Years ago, when the Communist nation of Albania finally opened up to the West, a friend of mine was one of the first Americans to be posted to our new embassy in the Albanian capital of Tirana. One of the first things that struck him, as it does most visitors to the nation to this day, was the presence of concrete pillboxes everywhere. They dot Albania like strange manmade mushrooms guarding the beaches, sitting in the middle of plowed fields, watching over vacant lots.
My friend asked an Albanian shopkeeper one day about the pillboxes, eager to understand why they had been built. The response was startling and illuminating.
“They were built to keep you Americans from invading.”
No one ever contemplated invading Albania, a tiny, poor Balkan nation. It was never perceived as a threat to American national security. Its brutal, Maoist dictator, Enver Hoxha, however, knew what all good tyrants know. The best way to keep a population under control and to convince it to accept the loss of liberty is to convince it that it is under assault. A people cowering in fear of “invasion” will more readily submit, give up its rights and allow itself to be ruled by a dictator.
Hoxha knew this. Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania knows it too.
Earlier this week Wolf, whose coronavirus restrictions and edicts rank amongst the most draconian in the nation, turned the screws a little bit tighter. He announced that all school children in Pennsylvania over the age of two will for the duration of the 2020-2021 school year be required to wear face masks. In doing so, Wolf and his Health Secretary, Levine, explained that this measure was necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus amongst school children and widespread death.
None of this is true. The Americans were not getting ready to invade. Our children are not at risk.
First, the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s own data detailed below shows that deaths across the board are rapidly declining across the entire state. We are not in the midst of a crisis. We are well past the peak of this pandemic, and it is long past time to begin reopening.
Second, Wolf’s edict, like all his others, ignores the basic science of disease and pandemics. It is based upon the implicit and completely false representation that by wearing masks or hiding inside we can avoid getting the virus. This is a lie. It was always a lie.
COVID-19 will continue to spread throughout the entire population until we have achieved what is termed herd immunity. That means either we will have all been infected or so many of us will have been infected that the disease’s ability to spread from person to person will have been so inhibited that the epidemic will effectively be eliminated.
Doctors and scientists know this and have always known this. Lockdown measures were never instituted with the idea of preventing the disease from spreading. They were instituted to slow the rate of the spread so that ICU’s and other critical facilities were not overwhelmed by a rush of patients all at once. That never happened.
The fact that the disease will spread to virtually all of us does not mean there will be mass casualties. We now know that many, many people get COVID-19 and experience no symptoms. Others get relatively mild, flu-like symptoms and never require treatment by medical professionals.
Which brings us to the final, crucial point.
COVID-19 is effectively harmless to young people. A study of 100 children infected in Italy, for instance, found that none of them died. The statistics in Pennsylvania, shown below, are consistent with this finding. As of the date of the report from which the numbers were drawn there had been no documented deaths from COVID for anyone under 25.
Nationally, only 0-0.6% of all COVID-19 cases amongst children have resulted in death. Twenty states have reported no deaths amongst children. Even in cases where children have been reported to have died of COVID, there have often been significant questions about whether or not the virus was, in fact, the cause of death or if the child died of other causes and also had COVID.
Wolf knows all of this, so does his Health Secretary Levine. The edict that children must be masked is not intended to prevent a true health crisis. If these individuals were really concerned about that they would have long since turned their attention to the elderly and nursing home patients who are the only people truly threatened by this illness.
The school mask decree is intended to perpetuate amongst the public the irrational fear of a largely illusory crisis. It is particularly reprehensible because it pulls on the heartstrings of Pennsylvania’s parents. In doing so, it allows Wolf, no longer Governor but now apparently absolute ruler of the Commonwealth, to continue to impose his will, ignore the people and the legislature and extend the reach of his power.
The citizens of Pennsylvania have long since lost patience with this kind of madness. The legislature seems strangely silent except for a focus on a constitutional amendment, which while it would curtail gubernatorial power would not take effect for at least two years. That is two years too long.
If the people’s representatives in Harrisburg will not stand up and do what is required to end this insanity, then perhaps it is time for the people to take matters into their own hands. We began this country with the understanding that we, the people, would not allow a tyrant to trample us underfoot and that, when necessary, we reserved the right to disobey and refuse to comply. In Pennsylvania, the time may be fast approaching when disobedience and a refusal to comply may be required of all citizens.
Wolf seeks to rule through fear. Perhaps he needs to be told we are not afraid.