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SCHAEFFER: Quarantine For Thee, Not For Me

The obvious double-standard of the political elite will sow the seeds of resentment for years to come.
U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speak to members of the press after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at the U.S. Capitol August 7, 2020 in Washington, DC. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were unable to reach a deal on a new relief package to help people weather the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

A week of celebrations of Civil Rights icon Rep. John Lewis were recently held across two states and the nation’s capital, and were attended and viewed by many thousands. A decent man gone home to his God, having left the world a better place than that into which he was born in those trying times of racial inequality and Jim Crow. But John Lewis was not the only decent American to pass away recently. Unlike the revered Congressman, these many other decent and beloved people were permitted no such closure ceremonies…

It was hard not to be moved and impressed by the outpouring of farewells for Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), the Civil Rights era icon and Congressman who passed away on July 17 at age 80 after suffering pancreatic cancer.  His memorial service, held in Georgia, was the culmination of a six-day celebration of his life.  Along with family and friends, Lewis’ funeral was attended by three former Presidents, world dignitaries, and 50 members of Congress; they included House  Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), prospective Biden running-mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA),  Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC).

The formal remembrance took place at the Ebenezer Baptist Church after which John Lewis was laid to rest at the South View Cemetery.  A week of celebrations of the bona fide Civil Rights hero across two states and the nation’s capital, and attended by many thousands, was over.  A decent man gone home to his God, having left the world a better place than that into which he was born in those trying times of racial inequality and Jim Crow.

But John Lewis was not the only decent American to pass away recently.  Indeed, tens of thousands have also died over the past few months.  And they were just as important to their loved ones, friends, and admirers as Mr. Lewis was to his.  But unlike Mr. Lewis, they were permitted no such closure ceremonies…let alone a week of memorials attended by thousands.  This is due to the draconian dictates of state and federal officials that prohibit large gatherings, such as the very ones we saw for Mr. Lewis (let alone the riots and protests).  Many were not even permitted to visit their dying loved ones in hospital, so great has been the fear of this virus that kills less than one percent of those infected, as estimated by the CDC.

Maybe these unsung tens of thousands did not live lives as consequential as did John Lewis, but for those who cared about them, whose lives were touched by those lost to all sorts of killers from old age, to cancer, to heart disease/strokes, car accidents, and, yes, Covid-19, the loss is just as real, just as important, and just as worthy of remembrance and celebration.  But apparently they don’t matter nearly as much.  At least not to those who make and enforce the laws.  To wit, those in power.

If you or I lived in Washington D.C. and were to travel to Georgia, upon our return, by law, we would be required to self-quarantine for fourteen days.  This measure has been instituted by Mayor Muriel Bowser, who forcefully offers: “Our message remains the same: stay home.  Staying at home is the best way to flatten the curve and protect yourself, your family, and our entire community from COVID-19.”  The law applies to anyone not engaged in “essential” travel, government functions, or working at “essential” businesses.  Nor can D.C. citizens take part in any recreational activities not allowed by the Mayor’s Office.

Furthermore, anyone who willfully violates the stay-at-home order may be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, subject to $1,000 fines.  Wow.  So Mayor Bowser is serious about clamping down on this disease, no matter who it inconveniences…or how many funerals it prohibits.

As Georgia is one of the states deemed “high-risk”, it would stand to reason then that the bevy of Congresspersons returning from their colleague’s funeral in Atlanta would have had to comply and immediately go into quarantine for two weeks.  After all, although I am not a virologist, I think it is safe to say that a virus doesn’t know whether it is floating around a Congressman’s funeral, the seat of a bus, a coffee shop, a hair salon, or a restaurant.  But apparently Mayor Bowser must know something we don’t about science because upon their return from Georgia, that hot-bed of plague and infestation so deemed by D.C.’s own mayor, the 50 members of Congress were exempt from the quarantine protocols because “government activity is essential.”

Susan Castillo, Press Secretary for Mayor Bowser, explained: “Government activity is essential, and the Capitol of the United States is exempt from the Mayor’s Order.”  When asked by a journalist if attending Lewis’ funeral constituted “government activity,” Castillo said yes.  When further pressed if attendees at non-government funerals in high-risk areas would have to quarantine upon returning to D.C., Castillo again answered: “Yes.”

Got that?  And you thought we were a nation where, as the Democrats have repeated ad nauseum re: Bad Orange Man “no one is above the law.”

I recently attended a funeral for a man whose life was so decent and honorable, and who was so well-loved and respected by family, friends, and co-workers, that he could have easily filled to overflowing the viewing room.  Instead only eight — eight — were allowed to attend what passed for a wake.  And then for only two hours.  Later, when we arrived at the cemetery, only three cars with that magic eight number were even permitted on the grounds.  His own siblings, beloved grandchildren, friends for over a half-century, and those who came to pay their respects were not even privy to the brief prayer offered by a priest in the presence of just his two adult children and wife of over 60 years before his casket was unceremoniously whisked inside the sepulcher by a cemetery staff anxious they not break any laws and suffer the consequences.  The tiny group was left standing awkwardly in the carport of an empty mausoleum driveway.

That was it.  That was a good person’s final send-off.  No doubt there are literally tens of thousands of similar stories out there.  Too bad.  But hey, whatterya gonna do?  After all, there’s only room for 535 in Congress.

I am not saying John Lewis’ tribute was undeserved.  He was a truly brave man — a term I do not use lightly. In 1965, he was literally clubbed nearly to death by Alabama state troopers while peacefully (in the real sense of the word) marching for the sublime cause of racial equality, justice, and equal representation under the law.  And he was only 23 at the time; heck, at that age I was still grappling with such important matters as whether to be a Cubs or White Sox fan.  Mr. Lewis’ legacy is not in doubt.  The point is that everyone matters to God in Heaven and to someone on this Earth.  Thusly, everyone deserves to be sent off into the next life in the proper fashion that adheres to their faith and as per their wishes and those of their next of kin.

But such is not the case for any but the chosen few.  Consider the mere eight mourners allowed to view my loved one.  Now contrast that with the crowds gathered for Mr. Lewis from Alabama to D.C. to Georgia.  One could see that, despite “social distancing protocols,” other than a few chairs scattered here and there in the most controlled and intimate settings throughout the week, that there was no such thing.  One can pull up photos of Mr. Lewis’ fraternity brothers standing by his flag-draped coffin at Troy University standing shoulder-to-shoulder, some without masks, some wearing them, and of the latter at least one wearing it improperly.  Meanwhile, upon the passing of lesser mortals throughout the nation no such farewells of any kind are permitted.

This tale of two funerals — one for the powerful insiders for whom the term “public service” is an oxymoron, and one for the average Joe or Jane — is but an illustration of the larger issues raised in this pandemic without end…at least until Trump is defeated.  The arbitrary nature of so many restrictions were exposed quite clearly in a May ruling by Illinois Judge Michael McHaney who blocked Illinois Governor Pritzker’s stay-at-home orders.

Since the inception of this insanity, the following regulations, rules or consequences have occurred: I won’t get COVID if I get an abortion, but I will get COVID if I get a colonoscopy. Selling pot is essential, but selling goods and services at a family owned business is not. Pot wasn’t even legal and pot dispensaries didn’t even exist in this state until five months ago and, in that five months, they have become essential, but a family-owned business in existence for five generations is not.

A family of six can pile in their car and drive to Carlyle Lake without contracting COVID but, if they all get in the same boat, they will. We are told that kids rarely contract the virus and sunlight kills it, but summer youth programs, sports programs are cancelled. Four people can drive to the golf course and not get COVID but, if they play in a foursome, they will. If I go to Walmart, I won’t get COVID but, if I go to church, I will. Murderers are released from custody while small business owners are threatened with arrest if they have the audacity to attempt to feed their families.

Then McHaney gets to the heart of the matter.

When laws do not apply to those who make them, people are not being governed, they are being ruled.  Make no mistake, these executive orders are not laws. They are royal decrees.  Illinois citizens are not being governed.  They are being ruled.  The last time I checked, Illinois citizens are American citizens.  And Americans don’t get ruled.

The judge speaks for the people of Illinois, but the broader principle applies to every American who has been deprived final moments with cherished loved ones while politicians are treated to pomp and circumstance and public gatherings. This is an experiment in the limits of raw power being carried out by ruthless people for whom unbridled power is the end in and of itself, not the means to making this a better country.

Two days after returning from the Lewis funeral, a mask-less Nancy Pelosi was out in public speaking with reporters on Capitol Hill.  Quarantine for thee, not for me.  And as with so much of what has happened to this country over the course of this Coronavirus outbreak, the flaunting of protocols to accommodate one Congressman’s funeral, and then applying exemptions to government officials and those connected to them so they may engage in conduct that would have the average American fined and even arrested, has laid bare the schism and the myth of America. The simple fact is there are two sets of laws, two sets of dictates, even two sets of standards of behavior laid down by those in power today.  The average American is being told he/she must obey the law or be nakedly exposed to the wrath of a government led by the small-minded and the cynical who have somehow been allowed to wield far too much power where Civil Liberties are concerned.  But then there are those on the inside for whom terms like “social distancing” and “mandatory self-quarantining” are cute notions, but not intended for them.  Such an obvious double-standard will sow the seeds of resentment for years to come.

More from Brad Schaeffer: The Truth About The Black Lives Matter Organization

Brad Schaeffer is a commodities trader and writer whose articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, National Review, Celeb Magazine, Zerohedge, Frumforum, and other news outlets.  He is the author of the acclaimed World War II novel Of Another Time And Place (Post Hill/Simon & Schuster, 2018).

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