By Benjamin Ahdoot - lewrockwell.com
If you are like me, each day progressively you find yourself wondering what alternate universe we just warped into. Imagine if you could go back in time to 2015, back to the future style, and tell yourself that in the year 2020 a global viral pandemic would have shut down the entire global economy, you could get ticketed for walking on a beach, and stores wouldn't sell you food unless you were wearing a mask. What a time to be alive [insert sarcastic tone here.]
Perhaps, also like myself, you might find yourself flabbergasted at how submissive and obedient the members of our society have become. After months of coerced isolation (quarantine) people around this country are at last beginning to stand up and to say enough is enough. I witnessed such a display of civil disobedience on a cold mid April day in the great state of Michigan.
It started when I reached out to my friend Glen Jacobs, the mayor of Knox County Tennessee, informing him of my intent to leave Los Angeles for Knoxville. At the time, the Los Angeles Mayor's orders to close "non-essential" businesses had turned my city into a depressing ghost town with only the homeless roaming the streets. After spending about a week in Knoxville I got word that a protest against the "lockdown" was being planned in Lansing, Michigan. I knew that the mainstream media would never fairly cover this type of protest, so I decided to drive up to Lansing to see first hand what was going on there.
I was expecting to find only a small gathering, but instead I arrived at the scene of what was turning into an ocean of protesters. The governor's heavy-handed shut down of society in the state had caused so many people to decide that they had had enough. People drove in from all across Michigan on that cold day to peacefully gather and let their voices be heard. They were causing gridlock in front of the Capitol building, and traffic was going nowhere. I decided to get out of my car and video record what I was seeing. My face hung with an expression of absolute disbelief at the sight of thousands upon thousands of people who had decided to exercise their inalienable right to peacefully assemble.
As the protesters began pouring in, I was amazed at the raw diversity. People from all walks of life joined together in peaceful protest; it was quite the spectacle. White collar, blue collar, dentists, lawyers, banquet hall owners, florists, children, grandparents, black, brown, white, Trump supporters, and Bernie supporters all unified with a common message. I estimated an astonishing 20,000 strong gathered around their cars, peacefully protesting with homemade signs.
I decided to walk around to talk with people in their cars, read their signs, and see what grievances were being expressed. I talked to people who were complaining that they were being fined for traveling from one home to another. Others were holding signs demanding freedom and the right to go back to their businesses. Still others were saying that they were responsible for their own lives and were demanding their independence, saying that the spirit of liberty was still very much alive in them.
One man I interviewed said he had been out of work and that he was tired of being coerced to avoid leaving his home. He explained that he felt compelled to come out and demand that the governor open the economy. He lamented at the fact that the government has created an unprecedented wave of unemployment and that he rejects the notion that handouts would suffice. What he wanted was the opportunity to be productive again and to pursue his own welfare freely.
I met a couple with 18 grandkids. They said that their home building and banquet hall business had come to a halt, and they were out of pocket for about $130,000. They wondered why their employees could not work on building the homes with adequate distance between each other. Why must their business come to a complete halt? Why was it that they could not simply operate their home building business safely by using social distancing? They said they were protesting so their grandkids would know that they didn't just submit to the governor's arbitrary rules. They wanted to set an example for their grandchildren.
The Militia had a sizable presence at the protest. I estimated 100 militia members were in attendance. Contrary to what mainstream media may portray, their presence provided a sense of security for the protesters. I talked to a man who was carrying a rifle while he was there. He said he was with the Michigan Liberty Militia, and he was there to make sure that the people who had come to protest were kept safe and that things did not turn violent. He was there to make sure the state would not abuse its powers. Contrary to the popular narrative, love was the common motivating factor amongst these individuals. Love for their fellow neighbors and community. It is amazing how the walls of misconception crumble when one simply takes it upon themselves to get out and seek the truth in person.
Betty "Boop" a 94-year-old woman to whom I spoke said she had been there for five hours protesting the shutdown of the state. She said she was tired of not being able to see her family. I was impressed that a lady in her nineties showed so much enthusiasm for liberty and made the effort to come to the protest. Her daughter who was driving her held a sign out of the car window that said "OPEN THE DAMN STATE". Sitting in the passenger seat Betty remarked "I love this! I'm so excited! I got goosebumps coming out here!"
I then met a young man who said he was tired of the government not allowing him and his family to have access to their own property. He said that his family and friends had invested in their businesses and were on the verge of losing what they had worked so hard for because they had not been allowed to operate. He also said he had a friend whose family member passed away over Easter weekend due to a lack of stimulation and depression. This was devastating for me to hear. The man was not allowed any visitors in his nursing home, and at his funeral only 10 people were allowed to attend. As a result, he was not given any recognition for his 27-year service in the Military.
There was not only a spirit of defiance running through the protestors but also a desire to be understood and to make their grievances known to the outside world. It was frustrating to hear later that Governor Whittmer had called it a "political demonstration" in an article from CNN titled "Politics and public health collide in Michigan." There were certainly Trump supporters there, but the vast majority of the signs that I saw were demanding freedom and the opening up of the economy. Liberty and common sense were the underlying themes of this protest, not politics.
Prior to arriving in Lansing, I was honestly feeling doubtful whether there would be any significant turnout for liberty. Instead, what I witnessed that day renewed my optimism. It showed me that no matter how much the government tries to sell a false sense of security, there are people out there who value liberty more. These people were well aware of the dangerous trade-off between liberty and a false sense of security. They were thinking ideologically and knew that liberty should never be seen as a trade off.
They were choosing property rights over propaganda. They were choosing self-ownership and personal responsibility. They were choosing liberty over the false promises of government granted "safety." It was at this moment that I became keenly aware of this self-evident truth. So long as liberty is alive in the minds of a passionate minority, freedom will not die in this country. Perhaps the revolution will not be televised, but I no longer have doubt in my heart. The great state of Michigan rose up that day to proclaim proudly that liberty will forever persevere.