The past couple of months have seen an amazing and unprecedentedly swift change in Americans’ way of life. Governments around the country have seized the opportunity presented by the COVID-19 virus to exercise complete control over their subjects’ way of life. Churches and schools have been closed, “social distancing” norms dreamed up and drilled into our minds, and all without anyone uttering a peep. Not only that, but numerous Americans took it upon themselves to snitch on their friends and neighbors, only too happy to report people and businesses to the police for violating social distancing policies that didn’t even have the force of law. Is the United States still a free country, or are we no better than East Germany?
The East German police state relied on a vast network of informants. Over the course of its existence, the Stasi relied on over 600,000 “unofficial coworkers” [Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter – IM], while also taking in information from “information people” [Auskunftspersonen – AKP] who would rat out their friends and neighbors. The AKPs potentially numbered in the millions, with up to 20% of the population in some areas of the country reporting to the Stasi. This in a country of only 16 million people.
Read through the archived material at SAPMO (Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der ehemaligen DDR) in Berlin, and you’ll see how ordinary mundane activity was reported to government authorities. Even things like wearing jeans, receiving visitors from the West, or reading Western newspapers was reported on a regular basis to the authorities.
We’re seeing the same thing happening in the US today, as hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans are only too willing to snitch on their neighbors to authorities. Despite social distancing norms not having the force of law, Americans have called the police in droves to try to get their fellow subjects in trouble. In Missouri, the names of 900 informants were made public after a Freedom of Information Act request from the media. It included employees complaining to authorities about their employers, and some of the snitches feared retaliation now that their actions to report others to the government was made known.
Those of us who know and understand history see the obvious parallels between today’s snitches and those in former communist nations or in Nazi Germany. We know that a country which encourages children to turn in their parents, neighbor to turn against neighbor, or that pays people to rat out others is a country in which civil society will be torn apart by those wishing to curry favor with the authorities. And that’s the problem with treating a virus like COVID-19 as though it is likely to kill anyone who contracts it.
Blowing an illness completely out of proportion results in a large number of people feeling it’s their civic duty to obey every government suggestion as though it were a dictate, and to obey dictates as though they were ordered by God Himself. Those people also feel morally justified in denigrating others who don’t social distance and who don’t wear masks, and feel themselves to be morally superior because they think that they’re doing something to help stop the spread of the virus. Similarly, they feel morally justified in tattling on others, convinced that their actions are actually helping people rather than harming them. But as we’ve seen, the overblown response to the virus has harmed the economy so much that we’re seeing more and more people succumb to alcoholism and suicide due to the economic shutdowns.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to seek the truth about COVID-19, and to spread news of the truth, in order to counteract the tendency of self-appointed hall monitors to do their mischief. If we allow disinformation and government propaganda to go unchallenged, we’re further allowing our society to slip from freedom into tyranny.