Attorney General Bill Barr is receiving harsh criticism for comments made during a Constitution Day celebration hosted by Hillsdale College, during which he compared stay-at-home orders to abate the spread of Covid-19 to slavery. Yes, that happened.
Barr’s comments came after the event’s host asked Barr to explain the “constitutional hurdles for forbidding a church from meeting during Covid-19.”
“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest,” Barr said. “Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.”
This portion of a post is where a writer typically explains why a political or media personality’s comments are baseless, causing a stir, or plumb crazy. But in this instance, we leave it to the reader to figure out why staying at home, wearing a mask, and avoiding bars and restaurants to help save lives is very different than being captured in chains, stored in inhumane conditions, shipped across an ocean then sold as property to owners known for the cruelest of treatment imaginable to see why this comment is getting the following reaction.
A charitable explanation for Barr’s comparison is that he showed the sort of political hyperbole for which President Donald Trump is known, though the attorney general’s role in the U.S. government traditionally sits outside the realm of politics. But the Trump Administration has rarely abided by traditional precepts and neither has Bill Barr. As such, some blue checked accounts on Twitter were none too amused. To wit:
Bill Barr equates quarantine with chattel slavery as one of the greatest intrusions of civil liberties in American history. Statements like these make you realize many in this country know nothing about what it truly means to be oppressed. https://t.co/peGsxLoYH7
— Sunny Hostin (@sunny) September 17, 2020
Slavery “was a different kind of restraint” than public health-related stay-at-home orders, the United States Attorney General said, out loud, to a large group, intentionally, in September 2020.
He lacks reason, compassion, and dignity. pic.twitter.com/CboYxvaUhB
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) September 17, 2020
WTH… Attorney Gen Bill Barr said coronavirus lockdowns were ‘the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in US history’ since slavery. #COVID19
➡️ NO. How about WW2 Japanese Internment camps? Jim Crow laws? segregation? Tuskegee Syphilis experiments?
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) September 17, 2020
I am just hearing about #BillBarr’s historically tone deaf, historically ridiculous, historically offensive comments @Hillsdale about “civil liberties” saying that somehow victims like him have had their civil liberties “restricted” worse than any group since slavery. GTFOH!!!
— Sophia A. Nelson (@IAmSophiaNelson) September 17, 2020
On one hand you have slavery. On the other you have to do Curbside Pickup at Applebee’s. They’re basically the same, according to Bill Barr. https://t.co/R4513ACKfy
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 17, 2020
“Our evidence casts significant doubt on whether slavery existed in the United States.”—Bill Barr, next week, probably
— Mike Selinker (@mikeselinker) September 6, 2020
Oh, seriously, fuck you Bill Barr. The county trying to contain a mass outbreak of a killer virus is like SLAVERY? This guy is demented, a racist, and will kill or arrest us all in his pursuit of a right wing theocracy. https://t.co/YQ87Frk6Y1
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) September 17, 2020
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