March 22, 2021 Reading Time: 3 minutes

Have you noticed that the good guys are on the verge of winning the great struggle, certainly intellectually but also politically and culturally? It’s become nearly impossible for the lockdowners even to muster salience. Their statements on TV and writings in newspapers have become sheepish, hedged, pointlessly verbose and insulting – all signs of weakness when there is essentially no case left to make. 

We can all sense it: we are almost done. What can make the difference? Those who have been silent need to step up. Fact is, too many ostensible defenders of freedom (on the left and right: for example, where has the ACLU been? have sat out the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II. A few have even joined with lockdown authoritarians. This article offers all a form of redemption.

I shan’t call out any fair weather friends of liberty by name as the aspersions I could cast upon them would be nothing compared to the shame they must feel, the same sort of deep and abiding shame, I suspect, felt by those who silently watched the chains go round the necks of human beings being added to a slave coffle, who stood by, impotently, as the Trail of Tears commenced, who said nothing when innocent Japanese-Americans were being interned, or who countenanced segregation and other racially-motivated laws and policies.

Trust that I understand and empathize. A year ago it was difficult, especially for members of a tribe known for intellectual humility, to grasp fully the enormity of the situation, or to discern truth from lies from uncertainties spawned by a dearth of quality data or models. I know that people have careers, families, and reputations to protect and that some of us, myself included, were busy making bank by being willing to go places where less rational people feared to tread.

But today, thanks to the efforts of the Independent Institute, Judicial Watch, and, especially, AIER, there can be NO QUESTION that lockdowns were disastrous policies that imposed enormous costs for no discernible benefit and that government mask mandates have no scientific basis. I understand if you don’t want to follow me into abjuring private mask mandates but it does follow logically in this land of many laws that businesses with market power should not be allowed to impose medical devices on customers, even voluntarily.

AIER has tried to buck you up with optimistic articles every now and again and there are reasons for optimism, like the California recall effort. The forces of tyranny, though, remain too strong in some places and none of us can be truly free while some remain shackled to transparently unscientific “scientific” impositions on commerce, gatherings, travel, and so forth. 

So we need every lover of liberty, regardless of past (in)action on the Covid crisis, to now stand up and add his or her shoulder to the millstone and push! Push nonviolently of course, through letters to editors, social media posts, peaceful acts of civil disobedience (even smiling at masked people without a mask can work wonders), attendance at government meetings, making travel plans, dancing, social closening, rewarding businesses that don’t enforce mask mandates, and whatever other tactics you can think of. Then publicize what worked, when, where, and your estimation of why so that others less bold or creative can try as well.

What we do not need right now are internecine squabbles as if it were 2019 or scholarly writings aimed at purely sectarian audiences. What we need are rational people who believe in the precepts of liberty communicating with other human beings in a way that may induce those others to stop pestering their neighbors about masks and vaccines and maybe even to tell their leaders that enough is enough, that the time has come to live again.

If for whatever reason you cannot bring yourself to come out of the Covid closet so openly, I propose instead a Classical Liberal Green Corn Ceremony fashioned after the Cherokee Green Corn Ceremony. (For context and details, see Meg Devlin O’Sullivan, “A Family Affair: Cherokee Conversion to American Board Churches, 1817-1839,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly 64, 4 (Winter 2005): 270.) Similar to some Christian rituals, the Green Corn Ceremony was one of redemption and spiritual rebirth, a sacrifice that brought one back into the good graces of the community despite having sinned. 

The ceremony I have in mind is much simpler though. Just sign the Great Barrington Declaration and donate one percent of your 2020 income to AIER and/or one of the other organizations, like Judicial Watch, that have been fighting daily for an entire year for your liberty, and quite frankly, your safety from Covid, which can only be tamed by natural immunity and effective vaccines, not theatrical virtue signalling.

The Liberty Train is leaving the station, ultimate destination unknown but surely a better place than its current location. Climb aboard, or at least chip in for the fuel.

Robert E. Wright

Robert E. Wright

Robert E. Wright is the (co)author or (co)editor of over two dozen major books, book series, and edited collections, including AIER’s The Best of Thomas Paine (2021) and Financial Exclusion (2019). He has also (co)authored numerous articles for important journals, including the American Economic ReviewBusiness History ReviewIndependent ReviewJournal of Private EnterpriseReview of Finance, and Southern Economic Review. Robert has taught business, economics, and policy courses at Augustana University, NYU’s Stern School of Business, Temple University, the University of Virginia, and elsewhere since taking his Ph.D. in History from SUNY Buffalo in 1997. Robert E. Wright was formerly a Senior Research Faculty at the American Institute for Economic Research.

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