(MPN) The very first executive order Joe Biden signed upon becoming the forty-sixth President of the United States was the national mask mandate he promised at the Democratic National Convention back in August. The order makes face coverings and social distancing mandatory on all federal property and a legal requisite for interstate commerce. The move signals a clear intent on the part of his administration to double down on the “authoritarian” emergency measures – as described in a recent paper from Oxford University – implemented in the wake of the pandemic crisis and sets the stage for what may be the greatest threat to human rights and civil liberties the world has ever known.
Under the cover of a public health emergency, governments around the globe have imposed a litany of authoritarian measures to curb freedom of movement, assembly, and association. The implications have not been lost on most of us and pockets of resistance have sprung up in various cities and towns across America and the world. Even academia has now begun to examine the risks these measures pose to the rights enshrined in international treaties like the American Convention on Human Rights or Pact of San Jose, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Arab Charter on Human Rights among others.
A study published in Oxford University’s Journal of Law and Biosciences explores how these restrictions are leading the world down a path of totalitarian rule, that threatens to eviscerate decades of hard-won social progress through the expansion of surveillance and the “excessive and disproportionate” application of emergency measures across different countries. The researchers expose troubling examples of how governments have availed themselves of indefinite curfews, quarantines, and public humiliation to target migrants or other marginalized populations, which the authors judge to be “are far beyond what would be necessary to contain and slow the spread of COVID-19, and in some cases bear little relation to that otherwise legitimate public health objective.
Additionally, the study’s authors underline the need for a more common-sense approach and decry the “Wuhan-inspired all-or-nothing approach to viral containment,” setting a “dangerous precedent for future pandemics and disasters, with the global copycat response indicating an impending ‘pandemic’ of a different sort, that of authoritarianization. With a gratuitous toll being inflicted on democracy, civil liberties, fundamental freedoms, healthcare ethics, and human dignity, this has the potential to unleash humanitarian crises no less devastating than COVID-19 in the long run.”
Reports out of Germany confirm that at least four states in the European nation are in the process of setting up detention camps for “repeat offenders” of that country’s health protocols. Rule-breakers will be held in facilities specially built for the purpose in three of the German localities, while a refugee camp will be used to hold offenders in the eastern state of Saxony, considered to be a “bastion of xenophobic and Neo-Nazi sentiment” by other German states, according to Al-Jazeera.
The idea that such extreme methods could come to the United States probably hasn’t crossed the mind of most Americans. After all, many still believe in a system of checks and balances that is designed to prevent such egregious overreach by the government. But, the trend is very clear for anyone who has been paying attention and – more significantly – the legal prerequisites are already in place for such an eventuality, as one unsuspecting veteran of the U.S. Navy would come to find out, and, which according to constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead and founder of the Rutherford Institute, allows the government “to rescind the 4th amendment rights,” removing the people’s right to be secure in their homes and protect against unreasonable searches and seizures, to name just one of the issues his story presents.
What Frank Peterson (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) thought would be a relatively quick visit to the local VA emergency room to deal with a couple of broken ribs turned into a shocking revelation about just how far the country he served has come to losing the freedoms that he, and generations of his family before him, enlisted to defend.
Frank endured broken ribs before and thought he could tough it out at home. Earlier that day, he and his fiancé had been driving back from the suburbs when they came across a terrible car accident. Always one to help, he pulled over and tried to check on the driver of the tow truck that had slammed into a tree at the bottom of a ravine. In the process of trying to put out a fire that had ignited inside in the vehicle, Frank crushed his rib cage while rolling down the big gully with a fire extinguisher.
The pain was too intense to sleep off and by 2:00 am he’d thought better of it and headed down to 1101 Veterans Dr. in Lexington, Kentucky for treatment at the VA health care facility. Frank informed them he had been feeling a bit under the weather. A slight cough and some fatigue. Following protocol, he was administered a COVID-19 test and given a general rundown of the precautions he should take while he waited for the results, which came back positive a few days later.
Along with the results came the Lexington-Fayette County’s Health Department (LFCHD) and an Isolation Order requiring Frank’s signature. The remarkable document sent to him via email stipulates the responsibilities he, as “a source of infection of a communicable disease,” must adhere to during the 14-day self-quarantine period. These include having prior approval of the LFCHD in order to leave the County, receive visitors, travel “by any public, commercial or healthcare conveyance” and numerous other restrictions.