More than 100 protestors showed up in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, Tuesday demanding that Gov. Roy Cooper “reopen" the state. They believe the governor's “stay-at-home" order is “unconstitutional overreach." People believe a lot of things that aren't true, like that Green Book deserved an Oscar.

From the News & Observer:

"We are in violation of Comrade Cooper's order," said Leonard Harrison of Mebane, dressed in an American flag shirt. "If I get locked up today, I'm OK with that. As North Carolinians, we need to get back to work."

There's a great moment in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five when someone suggests that Vonnegut write an anti-glacier book instead of an anti-war book, because glaciers are about as easy to stop (now even easier thanks to climate change). You might as well protest COVID-19, but perhaps on some level people understand that yelling at a virus is silly so instead they yell at the policies enacted to protect people from the virus.


Arrest made as protesters call for North Carolina businesses to reopen www.youtube.com

COVID-19 is a hurricane or earthquake no one can see and that lasts for what seems like decades. Gov. Cooper could irresponsibly lift his executive orders but that wouldn't make the virus go away — quite the opposite, as he warned yesterday.

COOPER: Some people want to completely obliterate these restrictions. It would be a catastrophe. The numbers are very clear that the interventions that we've entered into — social gatherings, limitations on bars and restaurants, the stay at home order — those kinds of things are working.

Also, the adage “if you build it, [they] will come" doesn't apply in a pandemic. Few people are going to put on a mask and risk exposure to a deadly disease for even the nicest gourmet ice cream. They'll stick to eating Breyer's on the couch where it's safe. We've seen evidence of this in Seattle, Washington. Although Gov. Jay Inslee didn't start restricting gatherings large public gatherings until March 10, businesses were already feeling the pinch. Amazon's corporate staff had started working from home the week prior and that was enough to shutter restaurants and cost hundreds of people their jobs.

ReopenNC, the private Facebook group that organized Tuesday's protest, contends that we should make our own stay-at-home decisions during a pandemic. This isn't how a functioning society works, and unless everyone suffers a bad breakup at the same time, you won't have enough people hiding away in their homes for long enough to make a difference.

Perhaps not surprisingly, conservatives online were supportive of this protest, which they didn't even dismiss as a “riot." They don't see the problem with violating a stay-at-home order so they can protest a stay-at-home order. That's just good-old civil disobedience, which conservatives normally hate unless it apparently helps spread an infectious disease.

Matt Walsh with The Daily Wire claims the protestors were “properly spaced, outside." It doesn't look like they're wearing masks, and it's not as if the protest was a well-choreographed flash mob performance. This is needlessly risky behavior that endangers lives. During Jim Crow, racists might've believed black people had cooties but a white person wouldn't actually die if a black person sat next to them on the bus or at a lunch counter.

Protestors were arrested, and because North Carolina can't afford telekinetic police officers, this put the officers at risk because they had to violate social distancing. Conservatives usually defend cops shooting black children with toy guns, but they didn't suggest the cops shoot the nice white lady protestor from a safe distance because she might be packing corona.

Walsh insisted it was “absurd" to arrest people protesting the government because North Carolina has a population of 10 million but only has 400 COVID-19 hospitalizations. The entire reason North Carolina is managing the crisis better than the similarly sized but Republican-led Georgia is because of Cooper's proactive measures. COVID doesn't just prefer Georgia to North Carolina like any other sensible tourist.

Some protestors called police nasty names but conservatives still considered it a “peaceful protest," even though public gatherings of any sort aren't safe right now. No one even claimed that George Soros is bankrolling ReopenNC. Go figure.

[The News & Observer]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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