This means war!

A lot of people, from Trump on down, and from all political angles, are in love with the “war analogy” with respect to this virus outbreak. I have rejected that analogy on its face for a number of reasons until now, but since so many insist on invoking it, let’s go there for a moment.

An enemy is at the gates. The entire citizenry is theoretically in danger – and that means much more than merely their physical survival. In fact, their physical survival would be in no danger at all if they merely, collectively, surrendered to the enemy.

In other words, if the citizens chose to make physical safety their top priority in the face of this invading force, they could probably increase their chances of physical safety quite easily – but only at the expense of much nobler and more essential priorities, such as the survival of their civil institutions and their way of life.

In this condition, the citizenry of a decently adult nation would not follow orders from their leaders to “stay in your homes and hide to protect yourselves.” And if their leaders said, “The only way we get through this is by surrendering our ideals and our way of life for the sake of physical survival,” that citizenry would quickly determine that those leaders were either cowards or traitors.

Of course, what really happens in such situations is that the people demand leaders who will rally them to fight, which is the opposite of hiding and avoiding the enemy. Fighting for the kind of survival that actually matters in the long run means saying — and having leaders with the courage to say —

“This enemy cannot be defeated without some personal risk, loss of life, and hardship. But the alternative is to surrender our nation’s institutions and principles, our way of life, to fear. We have to make a choice: accept some wounds and pain in the short-term for the sake of protecting our community, or sacrifice everything that makes our community great and beautiful in the name of mere physical safety. The choice should not be difficult, if we are still free men and women.”

That’s the war analogy, if we must defer to it. In this case, it would mean accepting that this “enemy” may indeed cause more short-term pain if we choose to preserve the institutions of freedom in the process of facing it. On the other hand, the institutions of freedom and civilized life will survive only if we have the courage to face that enemy head-on, rather than surrendering our way of life to appease it.

So the war analogy, if we must go down this road, actually supports choosing liberty over ever-expanding government “emergency powers,” which of course set a precedent for any and every future “emergency” which governments may (and will) decide to exploit.

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