In the summer of 1809, New Hampshire invited the aged and declining hero of the Battle of Bennington, General John Stark, to a dinner commemorating his victory in the Revolutionary War. Stark couldn’t attend but he wrote down a dinner toast and sent that instead.
“Live Free or Die,” Stark wrote. “Death is not the worst of evils.”
It was a common sentiment when modern democracy was new and tyranny was first doomed. French Revolutionaries, inspired by the American Revolution cried “Vivre Libre ou Mourir.”
In 1815, the English Romantic Poet William Wordsworth wrote, “We must be free or die, who speak the tongue That Shakespeare spake; the faith and morals hold Which Milton held.”
“Live Free or Die,” is the official motto of New Hampshire and day by day it is sounding like an exponentially radical idea.
You Know This
A plague is on the land. It is a potentially deadly chest cold called Covid-19. Nobody knows how deadly. The estimates of its fatality are a matter of simple arithmetic. Not math. Arithmetic. There are about 330 million people in the United States. None of us has any immunity to Covid-19. Sooner or later, until a vaccine is available, everybody who is exposed to it will catch it. Period.
About 80 percent of the people who catch this bug will suffer, at worst, very mild symptoms but they will still be contagious for about two weeks. About 264 million people in the United States will catch Covid-19, spread the disease and unless they are tested they will never know it.
Many contradictory voices explain this pandemic to us. The consensus is that about 20 percent of people who catch the disease will suffer from it. Sixty-six million people will feel very sick and be contagious. That is a t\staggering number. It is larger than the population of France. It is slightly less than the population of Britain. It is significantly larger than the population of Italy.
Nobody knows how many Americans will die from this bad chest cold. About 25 percent of the people who get very sick with the disease will get pneumonia, their lungs will fill with fluid and basically, slowly, they will drown. Nobody agrees about the number of people who will suffer this fate. It is common for talking heads, and it has been the experience in Italy, that the disease4will kill up to five percent of its unhospitalized victims. The magic of second grade arithmetic reveals this might amount to 16.5 million people which is also a very alarming figure.
Whether to avoid alarming the public or because they actually know what are talking about, many epidemiologists predict a much lower death toll. The Washington Post reported this morning that a study in Britain, that the Trump Administration has based today’s response plan on, predicts 2.2 million deaths in the United States and 500,000 deaths in Britain.
Shelter In Place
In response, many politicians and many talking heads are urging Americans to “shelter in place.” By this is meant that all right thinking people should behave as if they are the targets of an artillery barrage rather than the potential sufferers of a very bad chest cold.
The other terms you hear thrown around are “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” and one can only achieve these obtuse goals if one imprisons himself and isolates himself from everyone else in the world: Don’t go to movies. malls, stores, bowling alleys, school, work and only walk your dog when absolutely necessary. Many talking heads for the last two days have excoriated college students who are swamping the beaches in Florida. Similarly, the same commentators are appalled that people in San Francisco, who have been ordered to shelter in place, are jogging and in radical cases even playing Frisbee when they SHOULD be home sheltering in place.
This can’t last long. This tension between what authorities say people should do and what people naturally do will break soon. One way things could go follows the Communist Chinese model, China managed to quarantine 50 million people using the Army and police. People who went outside without a mask were beaten and locked in their homes without additional provisions. The other alternative, the traditionally American alternate, the alternate of what Winston Churchill called the English Speaking Peoples, is to live free with the threat of death.
Nobody knows how long this plague will last. It is certain that it will last until everybody has been vaccinated against Covid-19 or they have been exposed to the disease and they have either lived or died. That is the sort of hard truth Americans have been avoiding since Vietnam. It is pretty safe to conjecture that most Americans want it both ways. They want to be free and they want to be safe.
TRIGGER WARNING! I AM ABOUT TO MENTION PRESIDENT TRUMP! TRUMP CULTISTS ARE STRONGLY URGED TO STOP READING , COCOON IN THEIR SAFE SPACES, SPRAY THEIR ELABORATE HAIRDOS AND PLAY WITH THEIR ORANGE MAKEUP KITS! IF YOU HEAR RINGING IN YOUR EARS OR YOUR NOSE STARTS TO BLEED, TRY TURNING ON A LIBTARD TELEVISION STATION LIKE CBS OR NBC AND SCREAM “COMMICRAT! DEMOSHOVIK!” AT THE SOCIALIST PROPAGANDISTS ON YOUR SCREEN UNTIL YOU CAN BREATHE NORMALLY. IF YOU CONTINUE TO DISPLAY SYMPTOMS OF A HEART ATTACK TRY IMAGINING THAT NEW YORK CONGRESSWOMAN ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ IS LECTURING YOU ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE AND THE METHODS YOU MIGHT EMPLOY TO SHUT HER UP. TRIGGER WARNING!
The other day President Trump’s dismissive tone about the pandemic dramatically changed. He urged Americans to avoid traveling and gathering in public spaces in order to slow down the spread of Covid-19. The idea is to prolong that length of the pandemic in order to diminish its intensity. It is widely assumed to be reasonable to discourage the most vulnerable victims from dying all at once.
CNN political correspondent Dana Bash reported that the reason for Trump’s sudden change of tone about the pandemic was his increased workload. The President must attend to numerous details about the outbreak each day which severely limits the hours he can devote to watching Fox News. Instead of learning about the pandemic from Sean Hannity the President is now briefed about the crisis by actual experts.
Trump who had previously assured Americans the crisis would be over very, very, very soon, warned that the pandemic might last until “July or August. Probably July but maybe August.”
“If everyone makes this change, “ the President promised, “or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus.” Trump added “We’re going to have a big celebration all together.”
Obviously, Orange Satan was talking about the Black Hills motorcycle rally which is scheduled to start in Sturgis, South Dakota on Friday August 7, just under six months from now. Last year, 470,000 people attended the rally.
According to television station KOTA, “The coronavirus is impacting many events throughout the country, and even here in South Dakota. But when it comes to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, that is still on.”
Rally director Jerry Cole said, “We’re hoping that things will get under control, and we will go from there. If things change, we will let people know.”
Cole’s statement raises very, very, very many provocative questions. Like for example: Is everybody supposed to stay locked up and out of work until August? Will there be toilet paper and canned goods by August? Will the traffic jam to get into the gun store parking lot last until August? Will the police be authorized to shoot me if I go to the beach before August? How many people will die by August? How many people will die after August?
And the big one, are the kind of people who go to Sturgis going to put up with this crap indefinitely?
The people who go to Sturgis aggressively project a rugged, iconoclastic, independent, tough guy image. Are they really not going to go? If 470,000 people just curse authority and ride out to the middle of nowhere in the middle of the country, who is going to stop them?
America’s biker counterculture is important. It is important because it is a reservoir of traditional American ideals. The big question is, is that counterculture willing to walk the walk or just talk the talk.
I don’t think it is over-dramatic to call this looming moment six months from now a turning point in American History. Are we still a nation of free people who would rather die than lose their freedom?