The fine folks at Fox News believe a “movement is coming," and it's a movement where Americans defy the law and endanger the lives of others. When desperate immigrants sought asylum at our borders, conservative pundits wanted to lock 'em up and build WALL. That was a national crisis. Now, Fox hosts valiantly defend the inalienable rights of white people to do whatever the hell they want, no matter the cost.

On the weekend edition of “Fox & Friends," Pete Hegseth, whose hands you should never touch, declared that people were “done" with the shutdowns, and it was their impatience that had let to some governors relaxing restrictions -- not any namby-pamby science.

HEGSETH: People are going to start to open up. They're done. They're done. They said, "I don't have a business if I can't open my doors. You've told me what experts told me to do, flatten the curve. Got it. I'm not waiting for the vaccine which you're telling me is the new standard.

Conservatives claim Democrats and medical experts are moving the goalposts, but a complete return to normal was never possible without a vaccine. Most Americans aren't going to risk large gatherings with thousands of strangers. We'd have also flattened the curve for nothing if we resume normal activities without a national testing and tracing program, which doesn't currently exist. Hegseth pointed to news articles about people violating social distancing guidelines as evidence people are fed up with COVID-19 lockdowns and that elected officials should govern according to the public's temper tantrums.

HEGSETH: This is going to happen. This is part of the reason why governors opened up. They knew people were going out either way. They don't want to look like fools, and this is the people leading the way.

It's not governors like Gretchen Whitmer and Gavin Newsom who are going to “look like fools" when this is over. It's the governors who buckled under to political pressure from a vocal minority of COVID-19 skeptics.

Maryland kicked off its first stage of economic reopening on Saturday, after Republican Governor Larry Hogan permitted nonessential retailers, barber shops, and salons to open at limited capacity. Maryland has roughly 10 times as many confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths as Oregon, but its population is not 10 times larger. A salon owner in Marion County, Oregon, was heavily fined for violating Democratic Governor Kate Brown's stay-at-home order. Brown doesn't believe it's safe for businesses in the county to reopen. This isn't like our dumb gun laws, where a Republican might argue there's some longstanding cultural tradition of spreading the coronavirus. The science is the same everywhere, and without a national standard, we're going to see this become more of a partisan issue.

Co-host Griff Jenkins mentioned speaking with a surf shop owner in Ocean City, Maryland, whose business usually makes "a year's funding in three months of the summer," so it's just “time for him" to reopen. Jenkins seems to think the tourism trade will function normally this year. Broadway theaters were only closed for a few days after 9/11 but decreased tourism to New York after the terrorist attacks shuttered many shows.

Co-host Jedediah Bila claimed New Yorkers are starting to go “stir crazy" in their tiny apartments. The lockdowns are affecting their “mental health." Conservatives love pretending to care about mental health whenever it is convenient for them. You know, like how gun control is never the answer. We need to address “mental health"! Of course, conservatives never actually address mental health.

Now we need to let everyone out of their houses before they go full Jack Torrance, even if it means people would die.

BILA: So I said this a long time, the second the weather gets warmer, you're going to have people who will just flood outside, because ...

HEGSETH: And they should. And they should.

They should not. This isn't responsible rhetoric from your friendly neighborhood state media outlet.

BILA: They can't help it. They know that they need the Vitamin D. They know that they need -- their sanity is suffering.

Vitamin D is available as a nutritional supplement. Look, we all know this sucks, but people were cooped up for weeks after blizzards. They couldn't leave the house, and sometimes didn't even have electricity. There was no high-speed Internet access or Zoom happy hours.

Bila said it just isn't possible to keep people locked inside “forever," which is significantly longer than the most conservative estimate for a vaccine. Who's moving goalposts now?

BILA: It's not possible. It's not feasible. So at some point you're going to have to open up and you're going to have to let the chips fall where they may, as terrible that sounds. I mean, listen, I'm very empathetic to this.

Yes, that does sound terrible. Only megalomaniacs (or libertarians) ever say “let the chips fall where they may." Bila and her husband have recovered from the coronavirus, so she's hardly “very empathetic" to people who are at risk of dying from the virus if we hastily reopen the country. She just doesn't see any reason to remain personally inconvenienced. She's survived COVID-19. Screw everyone else.

[Media Matters]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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