The real problem with the manufactured coronavirus liberty protests – Seattle Times

Theres a dead giveaway that these coronavirus liberty protests around here are political theater, and not real outrage.

It has to do with a certain sense of dj vu.

Take, say, our newly famous state Rep. Robert Sutherland, R-Granite Falls, who is in the national spotlight now for taking to the state Capitol steps in Olympia last Sunday and seeming to foment armed rebellion in the middle of a pandemic.

The ruling state government here is hell bent on destroying the rule of law, Sutherland told the big crowd. If you try to defend your rights, they will kill you without hesitation.

Yep, fighting words. But these are unusual times, and you can sense the heightened passion in his oh wait, Im sorry. Sutherland actually said that at an Olympia gun protest a year ago, in April, 2019. My mistake. Heres what he said, pistol tucked in his pants, at last weekscoronavirus protest:

Were starting a rebellion in Washington Governor, you send men with guns after us for going fishing, well see what a revolution looks like you send your goons with guns, we will defend ourselves.

Sutherland was joined in inveighing against this new government tyranny by Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen who had also joined Sutherland in decrying the old government tyranny back at the 2019 rally.

Or take Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley. You know your liberty rally is part of an ongoing vaudeville act when he signs up. Oh look: May Day Mutiny, read a flyer that Shea was circulating online last week trying to whip up more protests, according to The Spokesman-Review of Spokane.

RE-OPEN THE ECONOMY GOV. INSLEE. May 1st, if you wont we will rally in our counties to get them to re-open, Shea wrote. Freedom is the cure.

I dont know, if anything feasts on freedom, its this virus. But setting that aside, how genuinely oppressed by the coronavirus restrictions can one claim to be when you were exactly as oppressed by other perceived tyrannies, like five minutes ago?

I bring all this up because it feels as if were heading once again into idiocracy territory, with the hard political debates we need to have instead getting hijacked by theater performers like those mentioned above.

Yes, the government shutdown orders are onerous, and yes, some of them dont make much sense (I can go running but I cant go fishing?) But nobody is being ticketed for violating any of them, let alone confronted by goons with guns. Thats because they were issued in an emergency fashion with an acknowledgment that they werent perfect, so it was thought everyone deserved some slack.

But the bigger problem is they are a total sideshow to the real political problem we face now one that actually is worth protesting. Namely, that government is failing to ramp up enough testing to allow a social and economic reopening.

This one I truly do not understand. America, with more than 50,000 deaths now and bearing down on a million infections, still is only testing fewer than 200,000 people a day. That doesnt rank us in the top 20 countries for per capita testing.

Epidemiologists have been shouting about this deficiency for months now. Its vital because its only way out. The virus isnt much chastened by guns or protests or bellicose threats, but it can be hunted down relentlessly and isolated, by science. Not doing so virtually guarantees more outbreaks.

I see test-trace-isolate as the only real solution to the problem were facing, says Trevor Bedford, an epidemiologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, who was one of the first to warn that a large-scale outbreak in America was happening. A mass testing operation is the Apollo program of our times, he called it six weeks ago.

Harvard scientists estimated last week that to fully re-open society and the economy, we need to be doing 20 million tests per day by this summer. Were currently doing 1 percent of that.

It remains a mystery then why months into this crisis, testing is still on the back burner. The president, who I recall is a builder, could declare himself the King of Testing and ramp up national production, then make a daily spectacle out of trumpeting his progress. Plagiarize Bedford and dub it Apollo, or No American Left Unswabbed whatever, hes the sales expert, he could come up with something gold.

Absent that and were definitely absent that maybe Washington, California, Oregon and throw in British Columbia could form a Cascadia Testing Project that could combine to do the regional production needed.

Some dramatic progress needs to happen, and soon.Because heres the thing: The protests are political theater, and theypoll terribly, but its simultaneously true that the target of their ire, social distancing, isnt a long-term solution. So without more testing, we may soon be facing another volatile contagion which is that increasingly desperate people may start feeling the protesters have a point.

Originally posted here:

The real problem with the manufactured coronavirus liberty protests - Seattle Times

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