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More Salem than Thanksgiving

Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 25, 2020

By Heather Mac Donald, The Spectator 

Had King James’ Privy Council contained a proto-Anthony Fauci in 1620, there might not have been a Thanksgiving holiday for the current-day Fauci and his peers to cancel four centuries later. The transatlantic voyage that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth Rock would have been unthinkable under the ‘stay safe’ philosophy that now governs American life.

Nearly half the 102 occupants of the Mayflower died in their first year of settlement at Plymouth, sometimes at a rate of three a day. Such a mortality rate was predictable. The earlier outpost at Jamestown, founded in 1607, lost 66 of its original 104 settlers in its first nine months. 

Other early settlement casualties included the outpost of Roanoke, which simply disappeared. Overall, for every six would-be colonists who ventured across the Atlantic, only one survived, according to one estimate. Trying to establish a new life in the New World was most definitely not ‘safe’.

And yet the voyagers kept coming, driven by something beyond safetyism — religious zeal, ambition, passion for discovery, the desire for greater freedom. Those Americans who later spread across the continent, whether as solo explorers or in wagon trains, likewise eschewed a ‘stay safe’ philosophy.

Today, we are strangling American society in order to avoid a risk of death so infinitesimal — roughly 0.001 percent — for the majority of Americans that it would not have registered in any possible cost-benefit analysis governing both notable American endeavors and quotidian activities over the last four centuries. Our current Thanksgiving Day mantras — ‘Stay within your pod. Stay within your bubble. Stay within your household’ (in the words of a University of California, San Francisco, epidemiologist); don’t travel, don’t share food, don’t touch your family members or friends, speak only in hushed tones — make a mockery of the spirit that creates a country and sustains human life.

This present moment is less like that first Thanksgiving celebration and more like the Salem witch frenzy of 1692. To be sure, the coronavirus is real; witches were not. The virus has cost thousands of lives; witches did not. But the fear that has gripped much of the population over the last year, whipped up by sundry experts and authorities, is as disconnected from reason as that emblematic burst of hysteria in colonial Massachusetts and other such panics throughout medieval and early modern Europe. 

Read more at The Spectator. 

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