Flashback: Republicans who suddenly discovered ‘freedom’ in response to Biden’s vaccine mandate were painfully ‘authoritarian’ after 9/11
The United States has a long history of vaccine mandates, from public schools to the military. But countless Republicans have been laughably attacking President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate as an authoritarian power grab. Chicago-based journalist Branko Marcetic, in an article published by the democratic socialist website Jacobin this week, finds it ironic that Republicans have suddenly discovered civil liberties in light of all the ways in which they attacked them following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"For a country that's one of the world's leading democracies, the United States sure does have a government vested with some alarming potentially tyrannical powers: assassinating U.S. citizens by fiat, indefinite detention without charge or trial, a sprawling surveillance state that collects data on practically everyone in the world, and a security apparatus that can be deployed domestically to infiltrate and put down dissent, just to name a few," Marcetic writes. "All of this could, at the hands of a semi-competent authoritarian leader, be used to seize power and establish a nightmarish totalitarian state."
Marcetic continues, "If you're a right-wing media or political figure, however, none of this is an issue. The real threat to freedom and democracy, rather, is the life-saving vaccine developed to fight the pandemic that's cost at least 677,000 American lives this past year and a half. Since Joe Biden ordered a nationwide vaccine mandate to boost the country's flagging vaccination rate and prevent the thousands of deaths that are happening every day, the GOP and their allied media have suddenly transformed into the ACLU, warning of the mandate's threat to civil liberties and the country's imminent slide into fascism."
Biden's executive order doesn't say that every single U.S. resident has to get vaccinated for the COVID-19 coronavirus whether they like it or not, but it does mandate vaccination for employees of the federal government or companies with more than 100 employees. Employees of those companies, under Biden's mandate, have another option if they don't get vaccinated: getting tested for COVID-19 once a week.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 75% of U.S.-based adults have been at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19. But with the pandemic killing mostly unvaccinated people at this point, Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci (the Biden White House's top medical adviser) hope to see a lot more Americans get vaccinated.
Marcetic finds it laughable that The Federalist has attacked Biden's vaccine mandate as "textbook fascism" in light of all the civil liberties violations it has promoted in post-9/11 America.
Marcetic stresses, "You can pretty much go down the list of examples of civil liberties-violating government overreach in recent history…. Legislation attacking Americans' right to boycott a repressive foreign government? They're all for it. State laws criminalizing the right to protest? That's A-OK. Closing Guantanamo Bay? 'An affront to Congress and the Constitution.' George W. Bush's flagrantly illegal secret warrantless wiretapping scheme? Why, that was merely a 'program designed to mitigate terrorist threats in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.'"
Fox News has its own in-house vaccine mandate, but that hasn't stopped Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson and other far-right Fox hosts from slamming Biden's mandate as heavy-handed authoritarianism.
Marcetic writes, "Special mention has to go to Fox News, which accused Biden of being an 'authoritarian' and 'tyrant' for issuing the mandate. This was the same network that under Bush, became ground zero for vehement defenses of every Bush-era government overreach, from signing statements to spying on Americans to warrantless wiretapping — a policy Fox was particularly enthusiastic about. Its hosts repeatedly accused the press of undermining national security by reporting about these violations, even explicitly accusing groups like the ACLU of being terrorists themselves, and sometimes came up with their own authoritarian recommendations, as when they suggested Bush set up an 'Office of Censorship' to deal with pesky reporting on secret government surveillance programs."
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