If liberals here in New York City aren’t convinced that anti-plague rules are imposed in a capricious and authoritarian fashion, they should attend events such as the clash this past Sunday between protestor factions outside the Mayor’s mansion and listen to vigilante-activist Curtis Sliwa, self-appointed peacekeeper at such ruckuses, talk about his plans for immigrants.
The two main protestor factions were a right-wing “America First” bunch mainly there to denounce immigration and a masked, fight-seeking Antifa contingent. Sliwa, like the cops, was mainly interested in quelling any violence that might break out, but he was happy to share his views on immigration with a TV news crew, trying to sound moderate even as he suggested six months of detention for migrants at Rikers Island, the reportedly inhumane prison slated to close in four years. During those hypothetical six months of detention, said Sliwa, immigrants could be vetted and receive vaccinations.
Is that routine processing in his mind, or a just punishment for being a bunch of filthy outsiders? If it’s the latter—and especially if your left-wing impulses incline you to think Sliwa leans right-wing-authoritarian—consider the possibility that there’s a punitive bent in all the vaccine and social distancing regulation periodically inflicted on the public over the past three years, science notwithstanding.
As for the America First protestors, they might consider ditching the sign they had calling for Eric Adams to be made a one-term mayor, since Adams has been pretty sympathetic to their pet issue, saying that New York is too full to take any more migrants and entertaining the idea of putting them all on an island off Manhattan—an idea not so unlike Sliwa’s mandatory vaccination fantasy. Indeed, some of the right-wingers at the protest chanted “Pasty white liberals!” at Antifa and “America is full!” at any immigrants within earshot.
Instead of America First and any Adams supporters in the area finding common ground that day, though, the right and left throngs scuffled—or glowered and yelled at each other with enough ambient aggression to cause two peaceful-looking nearby dogs who were out for a stroll to start growling and barking at each other. They instinctively knew the mood in the area.
That little bit of political theater, a recurring event outside Gracie Mansion, is pretty harmless, though. The dogs are fine. The arrested protestors were likely quickly processed and released. The phony message about such tiny events, though, is that they portend potential “anarchy” in the streets, when it is far more likely that what lies in our near future is more “order” of the kind Sliwa and the healthnannies alike enjoy. The lockdowns of 2020 weren’t caused by a few loons throwing punches at each other but by powerful regulators and industry allies.
And if Covid’s so-called Eris variant—named for the Greek goddess of chaos who tossed a golden apple amidst the Olympian gods, causing them to fight over it—becomes the latest source of fear, or excuse for fear, it won’t bring chaos in the sense that cops and the likes of Sliwa tend to oppose, with hooligans brawling in the street. The real danger is that it’ll bring more pretenses of imposing order, rationality, science, safety, and mathematically precise permissible social interactions.
All that could change with hilarious suddenness during the Democratic primaries, if, say, Biden drops out for health reasons and, after a few months of scuffling with avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, anti-vaccination activist Robert Kennedy Jr. emerges triumphant to become the Democratic nominee. You know damn well that after a few years of condemning him and anti-vaccination rabble-rousers as science-hating mass-murderers, the instant he became the left’s standard-bearer, they’d do an about-face, declare Kennedy the salt of the earth and all his ideas quite reasonable once you think about it for a while, and cast their votes in fall 2024 because “the important thing is to stop [whoever the Republican nominee is].”
There’s always, in short, an apparent need to impose order on the unruly mob that’s your enemy while simultaneously liberating your own side to inquire, live life, breathe free, and be individuals.
Some fear the same shifting rhetorical tactics are at work in the government’s on-again off-again relationship to UFOs—a subject to be tamped down when it might incite the paranoid masses to rebel, a subject to be stoked when it might lead to increased defense spending. I’ll talk about that, among other reasons to remain skeptical on the whole subject, this Thursday, August 31, at eight p.m. at the Williams Center near the Rutherford, NJ train stop, when I join Lou Perez and Sean Donnelly on the Wrong Take’s panel on UFOs, if you care to join us.
Regardless of the political party or invasive organism under examination, trust no one, especially not the authorities.