First, let me say that I don't buy any of the conspiracy theories. They are all just that--theories. There may be a bit of anecdotal evidence in support of some, but there is no solid and reliable evidence that validates any of them.
Perhaps the wildest--and you may have seen it on Facebook--is that the COVID-19 pandemic is caused by 5G. For anyone not familiar, 5G is the name for the latest cellular network system. All four US cellphone carriers are eventually going to it, but for now, 4G is still more common. You can't use 5G unless you have a phone that's compatible, and they're expensive. Obviously, a part of the new 5G system is new equipment used to transmit signals. The conspiracy theorists began attacking it as soon as it was announced three years ago. Some claimed that the new network generates radiofrequency radiation that can damage DNA and lead to cancer; cause oxidative damage that can cause premature aging; disrupt cell metabolism; and potentially lead to other diseases through the generation of stress proteins. It was only natural that some of the conspiracy theory folks decided that it was responsible for COVID-19.
Some of those Facebook posts are ridiculous; others are just people worrying about something they don't understand and believing that the ones who are posting the foolishness know what they're talking about (they don't!). In one of the discussions we saw, one fellow went so far as to blame another epidemic on new technology--claiming that the spread of electricity had been responsible for the 1918 flu epidemic.
Other conspiracy theories are at least more plausible. Two in direct contradiction to each other are common: one blames COVID-19 on the Chinese, the other on the Americans. There is in fact a lot of talk (much like Facebook here) in China that COVID-19 was 'planted' in China by an agent from the US. On the other side of that germ warfare coin, quite a few in the US believe that COVID-19 was produced as a Chinese germ warfare experiment that got out of hand.
There is ZERO solid evidence to support any of those conspiracy theories--just as there is none to support the contention of some that President Trump and company are using it as a means to seize dictatorial powers or the opposite, that COVID-19 was a plot by the Democrats to wreck the economy and get rid of Trump.
Early on, some claimed that COVID-19 was a hoax..."nothing but the common cold." With thousands of deaths from the disease, that claim now sounds as ridiculous as it is.
COVID-19 is a disease that has spread across every continent except Antarctica. There have now been 1.6 million confirmed cases; there are probably more, not everyone who gets it knows it and not everyone who gets it gets tested. 94,000 people have died from it.
While it started in China, the US now has by far the most cases--nearly a third of all the confirmed cases worldwide.
The COVID-19 pandemic has closed schools nationwide, almost all states have stay at home edicts that have included closure of many businesses. Restaurants are forced to operate only as carry-out or delivery food sources. Gatherings of all kinds have been banned. Funerals, weddings, church services have all been cancelled.
On Thursday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper took the stay at home edict a little further. North Carolina retail businesses are now limited on how many customers can be in their stores at a time.
When Cooper made his initial announcement closing barber shops, hair and nail salons, theaters and gyms, Civitas, the conservative think-tank in Raleigh,
questioned the move. Civitas president Donald Bryson issued a statement in which he said, "State and federal governments do not own the silver bullets to help North Carolina out of this crisis, and bringing the economy, and the livelihoods that it represents, to a grinding halt will make things considerably worse for a number of our state’s workers and entrepreneurs. Businesses provide goods and services that North Carolinians need. Lawmakers must realize that crippling economic costs are to be avoided because, in reality, they represent human costs; families doing the best they can to provide for their loved ones."
In a news release Civitas said: "we ask that Governor Cooper not demand our citizens choose between saving lives and protecting livelihoods."
Lincoln County Commission chairman Carrol Mitchem agreed with them--saying that 'the cure may be worse than the disease.'
Mitchem posted an article on Facebook Thursday about something that happened i Mississippi. We checked it from several sources, and the information is correct.
The police in Greenville, Mississippi went to Temple Baptist Church Wednesday evening (April 8th) and gave everyone there a ticket for $500 because they had a drive-in service. Reliable sources say everyone was in their cars with the windows rolled up listening to pastor Arthur Scott preach on the radio. The city had adopted a new regulation that not only forbade gatherings of 10 or more people, it also prohibited drive-in gatherings. The mayor said churches could still have the pastor, music director and anyone else they needed--up to nine people--inside their church, but the messages or devotions had to be done via internet, telephone or other methods, there could be no gathering--even in cars.
I understand the danger of the disease; it's real and it's deadly. It's much more contagious than flu--and there's no vaccine, and so far no real breakthrough in treatment. Social distancing, wearing protective masks, and the other things that have been tried to stop its spread are having some effect; but it appears that the COVID-19 pandemic is far, far from over. The American Legion World Series has been cancelled for this year--that wouldn't have happened until August. There are many who expect Cooper to extend the stay at home order for another month.
I'm not criticizing Cooper or others who have taken actions to try to end the spread of this killer disease. I don't believe it's a conspiracy. I do, however, want to make sure that we avoid giving government too much control over our lives.
It has been credited to many, but I heard it first from the late Senator Everett Dirksen: "you put a frog in a pot of very hot water and he'll jump out; but if you take that same frog and put him in a pot of cool water and gradually increase the heat, the frog will say 'it's getting warm, but it's not so bad.' In time, you'll have a cooked frog!"
Giving over rights and freedoms to government edicts may be necessary in some situations. We had gas rationing and rationed some other items during World War II. By agreement through laws, you can't drive your car at any speed you choose. In times of violence, curfews have been enacted...but we would be amiss if we didn't note that sometimes what seem like reasonable ideas can go too far. Hitler's Germany wasn't the birthplace of eugenics; it was seen by many Americans as reasonable in the 1920s and 1930s before we realized the tyranny that it could become.
We must safeguard our free society while taking reasonable actions to get us through the COVID-19 pandemic and what I am convinced will be a longer than expected economic downturn it is producing.
America is at a crossroads that is unrivaled in recent history. It has happened before. In the 1930s, there were many Americans who believed that we should become a Communist nation. There were many who share Hitler's views--among them Henry Ford. Most readers aren't old enough to remember it, but for me, it brings back memories of the 1950s--when we could very easily have slipped into fascism by overdoing the fight against Communism on the domestic front.
I hope that those who have been spreading the many conspiracy theories--on both sides of the political scene--will stop! You need to realize the danger in what you are doing.
The phrase "we're all in this together" is quite appropriate. Not only our form of government but our very civilization is at risk.