Lessons in Totalitarianism During COVID-19

by Steve Golden —

Most of 2020 has been an education in how authoritarians take control of a nation. Unpleasant as it’s become to think about life and the travesty that is the “new normal,” lovers of freedom should act, not react, so that our interactions don’t turn into the tail wagging the dog. As the US continues its march into totalitarianism, it’s worth considering the many ways the government, big tech, and the mainstream media have managed to control every aspect of our lives since March, and what we can learn about opposing this tyranny in the future.

1. Propaganda, propaganda, propaganda. When it comes to COVID-19 data, the media has ostensibly become an arm of the government, in most left-leaning and some right-leaning states, pushing a narrative that people are dying in droves from COVID-19, that numbers are “surging” all over the US, and that anyone who does not comply with whatever arbitrary mandate has been issued that day is a “grandma killer.” Some of the more egregious examples of media propaganda are found in headlines that fail to capture the most important parts of a study or in the blanket revisions of data/stories with each about-face of the CDC.

When Dr. Fauci slammed masks as not effective in March and April, stories abounded showcasing over a decade of data that backed up Dr. Fauci’s claim. Try finding those stories now. Some have notices at the top stating they have been edited to reflect the latest CDC pronouncements on masks, and many were quietly removed altogether. (This does not even begin to address the issue of data the media simply doesn’t report, such as Hawaii’s surge in COVID-19 cases despite having the strictest lockdown measures in the country.)

Here are two more recent headlines that lacked honest evaluation of the studies in question:

“Narcissists and Psychopaths Are More Likely to Refuse to Wear Masks, Says New Research.” Newsweek chose to deceive casual scrollers and increase social division with this misleading headline. The studies, however, determined that personality traits had very little if anything to do with choices not to comply with COVID-19 mandates. Also, their participants were all in Poland. Not exactly generalizable.

“Best way to reduce coronavirus transmission is by wearing a face mask, study finds.” CNN and other outlets made these declarations after the authors of a poorly designed study made overblown claims. Multiple researchers requested that the journal retract the study because the data could not support that conclusion. 

2. Teach the public that only government-approved experts can be trusted. Dr. Anthony Fauci has been hailed by the media throughout the pandemic as the only expert we can trust, often juxtaposed against President Trump in stories where our commander-in-chief is presented as launching a “war on science, facts, and reality.” Dr. Deborah Birx was once presented by the media as an expert to be trusted, until she expressed concern about the CDC’s blatantly misleading COVID-19 death counts. News outlets regularly feature local doctors and top health officials whose claims mirror Dr. Fauci’s, such as Dr. Lee Norman in Kansas, while simultaneously discrediting any physicians who disagree.

Dr. Fauci participates in shutting out any experts whose opinions differ with his own. He made headlines recently for dismissing a reputable study by the Henry Ford Health System that showed more patients who were given hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tended to survive COVID-19 infection. The implication here? If it’s not politically expedient for Dr. Fauci, it’s not to be trusted.

3. Stifle scientific debate and censor data that doesn’t fit the narrative. In a piece for the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), Barry Brownstein discusses the book Bad Medicine by historian David Wootton. Wootton explains that scurvy was killing 50% of sailors in the British fleet. While other nations had discovered lemon juice as the cure, university-educated British physicians opposed the idea because they believed scurvy was caused by “bad air or an imbalance of the humours.” Those physicians pressured ship captains not to bring lemons on voyages, and thousands of avoidable deaths continued:

Wootton is clear; doctors were culpable: “When good arguments are beaten from the field by bad ones, those who do the driving must bear the responsibility.” “Bad knowledge drove out good,” Wootton argues. The advice of doctors was used as a shield by an inflexible government determined not to yield to the evidence.

Hydroxychloroquine has turned into the lemon juice of our time, banned as a treatment across the country in favor of the incredibly expensive anti-viral drug remdesivir (over $3000 per dose), which has done little to help patients, and by incredibly expensive vaccine development programs for a vaccine that’s not expected to be any more effective than the flu shot. A rushed vaccine also leaves safety concerns, with reports that the Moderna vaccine caused systemic side effects in 80% of participants. But don’t worry, because Bill Gates has reassured us those side effects were “not super severe.”

Related to the above point is big-tech- and government-driven censorship of scientific data. Many of us saw the breathtaking speed at which big tech platforms like YouTube and Facebook removed videos of America’s Frontline Doctors presenting their experience with using HCQ on COVID-19 patients as prevention and in early disease. Not only were their claims not discussed, but the data supporting HCQ claims (including the NIH’s own 2005 study showing chloroquine’s effectiveness in treating SARS-CoV viruses) is dismissed entirely by government experts.

4. Silence dissenters. Dare to speak out about censorship, economy-crashing COVID mandates, or treatment alternatives? Healthcare organizations are terminating providers such as Dr. Simone Gold (founder of America’s Frontline Doctors), who spoke out about HCQ, or Dr. David Murdock, a veteran cardiologist who was fired for attending a protest against stay-at-home orders that were destroying the local economy.

Another tactic we’ve seen in spades is character assassination. Consider Dr. Stella Immanuel, the fiery physician from Nigeria who claimed that she’d successfully treated a few hundred COVID-19 patients with HCQ. Here’s a black woman who has gone to medical school and has a thriving practice, and at the height of protests and riots against supposed systemic racism, The Daily Beast runs a hit piece on her to discredit anything she has to say as a practicing physician.

5. Use social isolation and fear to force compliance. Not much needs to be said about this point, because we are all living it daily. From public shaming of those who don’t wear masks to local government threats to cut off water and power to residential homes that host a gathering, American citizens are experiencing a taste of what it’s like to live under totalitarianism. The Federalist sums it up well:

Pick a dictator, any dictator—Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Jim Jones (dictator of his own realm)—and you’ll find a common pattern of imposing aloneness and the terror of it on their prey. . . . Imposed social isolation is unnatural for human beings. It’s torture that makes us highly vulnerable to any social pressures that suggest some relief from it. Whatever their motives, today’s wannabe social controllers are clearly using the virus as a sort of obedience school where we can be conditioned through isolation to conform to their demands. Many likely comply in hopes of being rewarded—maybe we’ll get to go for a walk someday if we’re good dogs. The irony is that mindless conformity creates even more isolation and even more vulnerability, even as we believe we’re escaping it through compliance.

Stella Morabito, “How Forced Isolation Makes Huge Power Grabs Possible,” The Federalist

Americans’ continued compliance with these dictatorial mandates gives untrustworthy political leaders the chance to make incredible power grabs. Most blue state governors and even some red state ones rule more like despots than duly-elected leaders these days. COVID-19 mandates are the new fascism, but many Americans are eating it up.

6. Distract from actual issues. Hidden behind the fearmongering COVID-19 case counts and death tallies are real social issues that threaten the fabric of our society. How much have we heard about the Portland riots, which have gone on for over 60 straight days? What about the Los Angeles teachers union demanding Medicare for all, defunding the police, and bans on private and charter schools before they will reopen LA public schools? Then there’s the not-so-shocking revelation from the CDC that widespread lockdowns caused over 25% of young people to consider suicide, among other negative effects. These are just the more shocking events the media has given little to no coverage.

The media doesn’t want you to know it, but there’s plenty of good COVID-related news out there. Hospitalizations and mortality rates continue to hit all-time lows, and Minnesota Gov. Walz lifted restrictions on HCQ in his state.

Protest in Berlin against COVID-19 restrictions

Media sources downplayed them, but protests against COVID-19 restrictions broke out in Germany and Canada in the last few weeks, made up of thousands of people who want their liberty back. Freedom-loving Americans must do the same, calling out government officials for the destruction of livelihoods and loss of liberty. Otherwise, the collectivists win. Let’s use the lessons of the last 6 months to spot totalitarian tactics and oppose them with our votes, peaceful protests, and meaningful confrontation of our government officials.

†Photo by ev on Unsplash

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