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This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.


Wir müssen Ihre Dokumente sehen!
Dana Pico 7/21/2021 3:01 PM

 

A person sitting in a chairDescription automatically generated with medium confidence

    Max Boot, Image: Wikipedia

     

 

 

     What is fascism? The term is bandied about so much, but it does actually mean something. From the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Fascism

Robert Soucy: Professor Emeritus of History, Oberlin College. American historian specializing in French fascist movements (1924-39), European fascism, and 20th-century European intellectual history; French fascist intellectuals...

     Fascism, political ideology and mass movement that dominated many parts of central, southern, and eastern Europe between 1919 and 1945 and that also had adherents in western Europe, the United States, South Africa, Japan, Latin America, and the Middle East. Europe’s first fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, took the name of his party from the Latin word fasces, which referred to a bundle of elm or birch rods (usually containing an ax) used as a symbol of penal authority in ancient Rome. Although fascist parties and movements differed significantly from one another, they had many characteristics in common, including extreme militaristic nationalism, contempt for electoral democracy and political and cultural liberalism, a belief in natural social hierarchy and the rule of elites, and the desire to create a Volksgemeinschaft (German: “people’s community”), in which individual interests would be subordinated to the good of the nation.

     Max Boot, the Washington Post columnist and well-known neo-conservative, has stated, explicitly, that he believed Donald Trump was a fascist, and Mr Boot is educated enough to know just what fascist means:

     Trump is a fascist. And that's not a term I use loosely or often. But he's earned it. https://t.co/KSfADd5Ycq

— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) November 22, 2015

     Might one then conclude that the distinguished Mr Boot believes that individual interests should not be subordinated to the good of the nation? Well, if one did conclude that, one would be wrong.

Stop pleading with anti-vaxxers and start mandating vaccinations

by Max Boot | July 19, 2021 | 2:53 PM EDT

     It’s time to get serious about coronavirus vaccinations. Stop pleading and start mandating.

     For the past six months, President Biden, joined by every public health authority in the land, has been begging Americans to get vaccinated. The “pretty, please” approach isn’t working. According to The Post’s covid-19 tracker, in the past week, daily reported covid-19 cases rose 66 percent, covid-related hospitalizations rose 28 percent, and daily reported covid-19 deaths rose 20 percent. With the delta variant spreading across the country, every single state has seen an increase in cases over the past seven days.

     This is a preventable tragedy. Over 99 percent of covid-19 deaths in June were among the unvaccinated. Yet even as evidence grows that vaccines are safe and effective, resistance to them is also growing. A recent Post-ABC News poll found that 29 percent of Americans said they were unlikely to get vaccinated — up from 24 percent three months earlier. Only 59 percent of adults are fully vaccinated.

     Translation: "individual interests would be subordinated to the good of the nation."

     Persuasion, something one would think an OpEd columnist would favor, does not seem to be something Mr Boot accepts, at least not if some people don't agree with him:

     This is madness. Stop making reasonable appeals to those who will not listen to reason. (According to an Economist/YouGov poll, a majority of those who refuse to get vaccinated say vaccines are being used by the government to implant microchips.) It’s a waste of time. Start mandating that anyone who wants to travel on an airplane, train or bus, attend a concert or movie, eat at a restaurant, shop at a store, work in an office or visit any other indoor space show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test.

     We must show proof of vaccination or a negative test? Wir müssen Ihre Dokumente sehen!

     Boy, it sure is a good thing the Mr Boot does not use the term "fascist" loosely, or often!

     One would think that the son of Russian Jews, who fled oppression in the Soviet Union in 1976, when the iron-fisted Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev ruled, would understand the need for individual liberty. But, again, if one thought that, one would be wrong.

     For months, Republicans have been caterwauling about vaccine passports, even obscenely comparing them to the Holocaust. All this sturm und drang obscures the fact there has been far too little use made of vaccine passports. I downloaded a New York state app on my iPhone months ago to verify that I’m vaccinated, but I’ve never once had to show it. Instead, many stores have signs saying that vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks — but they don’t verify vaccination. That provides no incentive to get your shots. Los Angeles County is also treating vaccinated and unvaccinated alike by again requiring masks for everyone. Why not just mandate proof of vaccination or a negative test?

     If New York state provides an app to certify that someone has had the vaccines, and Mr Boot has voluntarily chosen to use that, hey, that's great, and an exercise of his individual liberty.

     Sturm und drang, huh? The expression refers to an artistic movement in the late 18th century, characterized by the expression of emotional unrest and a rejection of neoclassical literary norms. To use this expression, the esteemed Mr Boot is telling us just what he thinks of individual thought.

     Or at least it does if Mr Boot actually understood the reference, a fact not really in evidence.

     In the United States, the authority of state governments to mandate vaccinations is clear — it goes all the way back to a 1905 Supreme Court case that upheld a Massachusetts law requiring vaccinations for smallpox. More recently, governors have used their public health powers to mandate mask-wearing and social distancing to fight covid-19. They ought to now take the logical next step and mandate vaccinations for the use of indoor spaces outside the home.

     Except, of course, the public have rebelled. In the Bluegrass State, Governor Andy Beshear's (D-KY) mask mandate was so hated that when Republican candidates ran on the platform of ending his dictatorial powers in November of 2020, the voters rewarded GOP candidates with 14 additional seats, increasing the Republicans' state House majority to 75-25.((The state House districts were set, following the 2010 census, by a House which was then controlled by Democrats.)) Mr Boot has been all about democracy, in his condemnation of President Trump and his vociferous insistence on supporting Joe Biden, but it seems that when the will of the people isn't what he thinks it should be, democracy isn't that great a thing anymore.

     The distinguished Mr Boot suggested that President Biden should mandate vaccinations (not just negative COVID-19 tests) for:

  • Airline travel;
  • Amtrak travel;
  • All federal employees;
  • Everyone who enters a federal building (which would include a post office)[i]; and
  • Order all military personnel to be vaccinated.

     Mr Boot wants President Biden to use his authority to order people to get vaccinated, but he said that it was President Trump who was the fascist! And remember: it isn't a term he uses loosely or often!

     Granted, there are limits to the United States’ ability to mandate vaccines because many red-state governors are unlikely to go along. But even Republicans want to fly on airplanes and visit blue states such as California, Hawaii, Nevada and New York. Vaccine mandates will prove controversial, to put it mildly, but, like seat belt laws, drunken driving laws and motorcycle helmet laws, they will save lives. We should not grant an unreasonable minority the power to endanger public health.

     Good heavens! You know, people can get to California, Nevada and New York without flying. It's not that long a drive for me to get to New York or New Jersey or Virginia. Perhaps Mr Boot thinks that the state police in those blue states should stop all travelers at the border, and demand to see their papers. Sound far fetched? In March of 2020, then Governor Gina Raimondo (D-CN) ordered the Rhode Island State Police to pull over drivers with New York plates so that National Guard officials can collect contact information and inform them of a mandatory, 14-day quarantine. She also ordered the state's National Guard to go door-to-door in coastal communities to find out whether any of the home’s residents have recently arrived from New York and inform them of the quarantine order.

     Ve need to see your papers!

     For a man who does not use the term "fascist" loosely or often, the esteemed Mr Boot sure seems unable to recognize just how much he wants to subject the rights of the individual to the police power of the state. Or, perhaps he actually does recognize it, but just doesn't care, not as long as that police power is being used for something he thinks good.

 


[i] We have a post office box because the United States Postal Service will not deliver to our house. I have no idea how many people living out in the sticks as we do have the same problem, but Mr Boot would require us to be vaccinated just to receive our mail.


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Dana Pico
Dana Pico is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and alumnus of the Patterson School of Diplomacy and international Commerce, and has written for the Kentucky Kernel, UK's student newspaper, as well as a few articles for the Lexington Herald-Leader, all in the days just after Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. He is now retired and living on his small farm on the banks of the Kentucky River. You can find more of his writings at The First Street Journal.




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