I’ve been in France since June 15, and the only regularly available English-language newspaper in the country is The New York Times International Edition.
The old and great International Herald Tribune is dead. The Wall Street Journal is no longer distributed here, so my default reading is The New York Times, a “newspaper” with very little actual news and so filled with anti-Trump columns and columnists that I keep a hospital bag handy. The opinions contained therein often cause intestinal uncertainty.
Firstly, you should know that there is a large and growing movement in France opposed to the Health Pass, the vaccines, the lockdowns, the mandates and all the rest of the paraphernalia that goes along with the Macron government’s response to the threat of the virus.
Last Saturday, I witnessed a march down the Place de la Republique to Place de Bastille.
Now, we’re not talking about the “thousands” that, say, NPR reported. Nor of even tens of thousands. We’re talking hundreds of thousands, an estimated 250,000, for example, who demonstrated last Saturday. They were waving French flags, carrying signs reading “Liberté,” and this being France, music was blaring from loudspeakers, featuring popular French hits along with classics from Edith Piaf, including “Je ne regrette rien” (I regret nothing).
It was an orderly crowd, or I guess I should say “mostly orderly” as apparently some of the peaceful protestors got carried away with emotion, and tear gas was directed and released at an unruly bunch of marchers. But the gendarmes, who were out in force, displayed typical Gallic demeanor and often smiled behind their shields and masks. They were, on the whole, friendly to most of the demonstrators.
Parades and marches against government policy concerning COVID-19 — including what are seen as mandatory vaccinations — are held regularly throughout Europe. Despite what you may read, it’s not just knuckle-dragging MAGA-hat-wearing Trump supporters leading the charge of resistance to vaccinations and other governmental restrictions. It’s an international phenomena.
Regarding that, the most recent issue of The New York Times’ International Edition begins with our old friend Paul Krugman’s regular column entitled “No bottom in sight for COVID denial,” prominently displayed on its front page, above the fold. And, since he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economic Science based upon his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity, his opinions matter. They are often passed around at the liberal table of nonsense as food for thought.
Mr. Krugman’s latest column taunts those who for various reasons have decided not to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
Firstly, he calls all those skeptical of the measures taken to combat the virus, “COVID deniers,” a la “climate deniers.”
Let’s just say for the record that nobody is a “denier” of anything. They can see the climate going through a periodic shift, as it has done for, well, for as long as Earth has been a planet with a climate.
There is no denying that.
What many deny — what many are skeptical of — are the apocalyptic claims of impending doom and the subsequent strategies of left-leaning zealots to “fix” the problem. So, in the case of COVID-19, what many are skeptical of (I got my two Moderna jabs in February) is the continuing effort by those zealots to maintain the mandates, restrictions and lockdowns that at this point do little or nothing to prevent the virus from spreading, but that do very much to interfere with living a human life.
“There are important similarities between the right’s response to climate change and its response to COVID-19,” Krugman notes, adding that while “climate denial was intellectually irresponsible and morally indefensible, it also made a kind of narrow-minded sense.” In one sentence, Krugman gets to call his detractors’ opinions “intellectually irresponsible,” “morally indefensible” and “narrow-minded.” Pretty good, but he’s been at this a long time.
Next, he attacks a couple of Republican governors: Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, for prematurely opening up their states and not continuing to promote or endorse “mask mandates,” and in fact for opposing such mandates, whereas most (all?) Democrat-run states still make such demands on their residents. Curiously, Mr. Krugman observes that because of this, “the modern GOP is more like an authoritarian political cult than a normal political party.”
Now, that’s rich.
Governors who suggest that ordinary citizens are generally responsible adults and should be the determining factor behind the wearing or not wearing of masks, the distancing or not distancing of themselves between loved ones and strangers, or whether or not to be vaccinated, are called “authoritarian.”
But governors who proclaim strict mandates, continuing lockdowns and mandatory vaccinations, then threaten to detain and arrest those who won’t follow their orders are what? They’re anti-authoritarian? It’s a ridiculous and contradictory statement, but consistency is not a trait of the left. Neither is rational thought.
Why there aren’t more Republican office holders like Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. John Kennedy and a few others who do what they can to counter such claims is baffling.
In any case, Mr. Krugman concludes by noting (sadly, no doubt) that “performative anti-rational COVID deniers” are leading the Republican Party and its followers into a continual anti-intellectual descent, “with no bottom in sight.”
To that, I toast to the health and wisdom of Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Abbott and offer a heartfelt “Bottom’s up!” to both.
James Buckley is a longtime Montecito resident. He welcomes comments or questions at email@example.com.