Liberate Michigan! Liberate Virginia! Liberate Minnesota! Liberate your home and neighborhood, your family before it is too late, your business and place of worship! Liberate your friends, co-workers, and don’t forget your pets! Liberate Main Street and the masses from unconstitutional tyranny!

But wait … there’s more: liberate trees from our forest prisons and fresh clean waters from the conniving ground and overregulation. Finally, let’s give COVID, along with its patent-free virus mutations, the respect and dignity it deserves – so it can roam free from sea to shining sea, and fulfill its destiny in liberating our very souls from our bodies!

Please excuse my ever-so-subtle introduction to a column about freedom. I had to liberate myself. Freedom is one of those impossible to grasp concepts – once you’ve got your arms around it, it makes its way free. Because of its wiliness, you can mold it to suit your purposes.While some conceive of freedom as the freedom from being exposed to a highly infectious, life-threatening virus, as its most rational form, others see their right to make a living and feed their families as a higher order of freedom.

In a wave of protests across the country, freedom is again being interrogated, kidnapped, gagged and tied to a chair by the usual suspects: American “patriots” – check that, mask-free “patriots.” Apparently, Batman and Spiderman along with other masked heroes are no longer in fashion. Our latest heroes don fatigues and brandish assault rifles inside our state capital buildings. They are, as their cult leader, Donald Trump, refers to them, “great people.”

Great people who liberate us all from the tyranny of oppressive nanny shelter-in-place governments. Great people like Texas hair salon owner Shelly Luther. Some may say (not me) that she is a modern-day Thoreau for defying a court order to close her business in the face of a 7-day jail sentence and hefty fine. By golly, if you are free to buy liquor and get an abortion, she reasons, “you [state governor] don’t get this control. We control you. We have the power.” And as if on cue, another self-styled freedom hero, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, swooped in to pay her fine. (As if she needed it – her GoFundMe campaign raised almost half a million dollars).

As author Mab Segrest views it, this historical pattern of social unrest might just be “the earthquake before the tsunami.” COVID, in this sense, is a link in the chain, a self-fulfilling prophecy for white nationalists like Larry Lockman, or government-tyranny luminaries like Ammon Bundy.

Power hungry political machines have a feeding frenzy with this level of paranoia. They scapegoat and actually foment social unrest. And their most powerful weapon? Silence. That’s something louder than words.

Silence is not the friend of freedom; it is a form of dishonesty and lends sanction to bigoted bullies. As states are now phasing in normality and denizens are emerging from their apartments, mobs are, as well, emerging from their bunkers. They pretend to speak on behalf of all true Americans. More troubling still, many bring a malignant form of Christian Nationalism into their cause – it seeps into their freedom propaganda. At the extreme, they see their only way out of tyranny is violence.

And at the risk of hypocrisy, I do condone a healthy and robust distrust of government. Though when distrust is heavily cloaked in ideology, you become blinded to the rational, to the “common good.” You become prone to lash out at those who truly want to help, like scientists.

But then again, might they too be a part of the plot to strip us all of our cherished freedoms?

After years of globetrotting, Todd J. Broadman finds himself writing from his perch on the Palouse and loving the view. His policy briefs can be found at US Resist News:

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