Democratic South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn got right to the point when asked about Attorney General William Barr's comment on Wednesday that shutdowns to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus were the "greatest intrusion on civil liberties" in US history "other than slavery."
Speaking with CNN's John Berman on "New Day," the House majority whip distilled the absurdity at the heart of Barr's words.
"I think that that statement by Mr. Barr was the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful thing I've ever heard," Clyburn, the longtime Black leader from South Carolina, said on Thursday. "It is incredible, as chief law enforcement officer in this country, to equate human bondage to expert advice to save lives. Slavery was not about saving lives. It was about devaluing lives."
Give Clyburn a point for, almost uniquely employing the word "incredible" correctly, meaning "not credible," rather than simply amazing, tremendous, remarkable, startling, or the other ways in which "incredible" is commonly and improperly used.
Nonetheless, Barr did not equate lockdowns and slavery, instead claiming that the former is second only to the latter in infringing upon the freedom of Americans.
That itself, of course, is ridiculous given the slaughter of Indian tribal members, the Alien and Sedition Acts, segregation/apartheid, internment of Japanese-Americans, and probably other events of our national past.
But Clyburn is on the right track by slamming Barr for an inaccurate and offensive characterization of efforts to stop spread of the novel cornonavirus. This, however, is simply bad:
I'll tell you what takes away your freedom: not being able to see your kid, go to the football game, or see your mom or dad in the hospital. That's what is costing us our freedom. #BidenTownHall pic.twitter.com/YM57H8lv2K— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 18, 2020
Now, that's equating two things- going to a football game and visiting parents in a hospital- which should not be equated.
If you are unable to visit a parent in the hospital, the loved one may die- without even having the opportunity to speak to you. Moreover, some experts argue that the likelihood of recovery is greater if the hospitalized individual sees and hears, especially in person, someone important to him or her.
That is life and death; it is not a football game.
That’s better than Donald Trump’s view that football is more important than life. Joe Biden may learn that watching an athletic event ≠ visiting a sick patient in the hospital. As of now, he apparently (as Bill Clinton claimed to do), feels your pain- whatever it's for, life-threatening or trivial.