Democrats' Hypocrisy on Riots Reveals Political Nature of Coronavirus Lockdowns | Opinion

Viruses don't discriminate based on politics, but many Democratic governors and mayors sure seem to do so. Democratic leaders' sudden about-face in response to the protests, rioting and looting that have followed the tragic killing of George Floyd proves that their earlier condescending condemnations of anti-lockdown protesters were motivated primarily, if not entirely, by rank partisanship.

When state and local leaders first began issuing stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we were told that the lockdowns were necessary to "flatten the curve" and to prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed.

We appear to have largely achieved that goal—albeit at a staggering cost, as more than 40 million Americans were forced to file for unemployment benefits and businesses have required hundreds of billions of dollars in federal assistance to avoid bankruptcy.

Instead of easing the painful restrictions and striving to reopen America, many Democratic mayors and governors, infuriatingly, sought to extend them even further—sometimes in open defiance of the First Amendment and always in open defiance of the concerns expressed by ordinary citizens desperate to be allowed to go back to work and live their lives.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, for instance, condescendingly quipped that anti-lockdown protesters who want to earn a living should simply "take a job as an essential worker."

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, also a Democrat, was especially caustic, calling the protesters who showed up at the Michigan state capitol "racist" and fretting that they were spreading the virus by assembling in public.

"This is not appropriate in a global pandemic," Whitmer complained. "But it's certainly not an exercise of democratic principles where we have free speech."

Whitmer was especially distraught over the fact that some anti-lockdown protesters chose to exercise their legal right to openly carry firearms, interpreting the behavior as some kind of a "threat" rather than a visually poignant way for ordinary citizens to express their determination to protect their constitutional rights.

However, when rioters used the recent George Floyd protests as cover for violence, Whitmer issued a statement that completely ignored their actions. She then blatantly ignored her own pleas for "social distancing" while joining the marchers for a photo-op just a few days later.

Far-left Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was similarly dismissive of those anxious to reopen the city so they can go back to work, saying, "I don't think it's too much for people to be asked to wait until they get the all-clear to do the thing that's safe, to do the thing that's healthy because these numbers, these are about human lives."

The same tough standard apparently doesn't apply to the protesters deemed more "woke" by societal elites. De Blasio, whose own daughter was arrested for blocking traffic during a demonstration, made an exception for protesters but maintained lockdowns and curfews for New Yorkers who were not protesting, looting or rioting.

Protesters in New York City
Protesters in New York City Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

Saint Paul, Minnesota Mayor Melvin Carter, said that while he encourages protesters to abstain from destroying their own communities, he "want[s] to be very clear we're not asking you for patience. And we're not asking you for pacifism."

Mayor Carter certainly should have been asking for pacifism, though—it would have been better than merely "hoping" the rioters stopped laying waste to the city.

The liberal mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jacob Frey, is one of the most culpable local leaders, as he not only fanned the flames of the recent looting and rioting in his beautiful city, but he also effectively forced the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) to stand down and allow the city—including one of MPD's own precincts—to burn.

Other prominent Democrats, including more than a dozen staffers working for former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign, have even contributed to groups that are bailing out looters and rioters who were arrested for their crimes.

Democrats, as a whole, seem to have forgotten all about their dire warnings about the public health consequences of anti-lockdown protests—none of which devolved into looting, rioting or disorderly behavior. Now that the protesters are pushing an extreme liberal agenda, such as defunding the police, Democratic officials appear to have magically lost their "grave concerns" about mass gatherings.

The contrasting and hypocritical response from so many Democrats to the two recent protest movements makes it absolutely clear that their supposed concern about the spread of COVID-19 has little, if anything, to do with public health—and everything to do with politics.

Boris Epshteyn is the strategic advisor for coalitions on the Trump 2020 campaign and served in the White House as special assistant to the president and assistant communications director for surrogate operations.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

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