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Rachel Marsden: By curtailing basic rights, Western nations resemble authoritarian states

Tribune Content Agency logoTribune Content Agency 10/20/2020 By Rachel Marsden, Tribune Content Agency
a room filled with furniture and a table: The empty terrace of a Paris bar on September 25, 2020. © Lafargue Raphael/ABACA The empty terrace of a Paris bar on September 25, 2020.

PARIS — Two signs on the glass front door of a municipal swimming pool in the Parisian suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie the morning of Oct. 17 perfectly captured the current times in Western civilization. One sign detailed new COVID-19 sanitary provisions. The other featured the triangular red “Alerte Vigipirate” symbol conveying the current alert level for terror attacks.

Not only were terrorism and COVID-19 juxtaposed in place but also in time, as just hours later, a schoolteacher who had shown his class caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed was beheaded in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, followed soon after by an indefinite closure of the swimming pool due to new COVID-19 restrictions.

Radical Islamic terrorism and sanitary terrorism may have more in common than it seems.

The 18-year-old Chechen refugee alleged to have killed teacher Samuel Paty, 47, was shot dead by police shortly after the attack. The suspect, Abdoullakh Anzorov, posted a photo of the victim’s head on Twitter and referenced the teacher’s educational use of the now-infamous cartoons that other jihadists had used to justify the murder of 12 people at the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine on Jan. 7, 2015. Charlie Hebdo had published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in 2012,

Rachel Marsden wearing a dress shirt and tie: Rachel Marsden. © Provided by Tribune Content Agency Rachel Marsden.

In August, a monthly magazine produced by ISIS supporters urged followers to take matters into their own hands by emulating the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Hey, France, listen up! Jihadists want you to protect their feelings!

Earlier this year, the French government, led by President Emmanuel Macron’s majority party, attempted to extend the state’s reach even further by curtailing online speech that could be considered “hateful.”

Radical Islamic terrorists want French citizens’ fundamental freedoms to be curtailed in order to ensure zero offense to their sensibilities. Every other special interest seems to be getting the restrictions on speech and expression that they ask for from the government. This has apparently left jihadists feeling left out and wondering why they should run the risk of encountering something unpleasant — such as a cartoon they consider to be in poor taste.

After all, we’re living in a time when governments in France and elsewhere are limiting, suspending or revoking fundamental freedoms at the whim of unelected interests. French society now bears a striking resemblance to that of Saudi Arabia.

Think that’s an exaggeration? In Saudi Arabia, a theocratic autocracy imposes clothing restrictions on women, controls who you can mingle with, prohibits dancing and drinking, and decides who’s allowed to wear a swimsuit in public.

In present-day France, the government has ordered mandatory face coverings, has announced that no more than six people should be around a table in private gatherings, has closed bars and nightclubs, has imposed a 9 p.m. curfew in most major cities, and has forced gyms and indoor swimming pools to close.

“Sure,” you might say, “but Saudi Arabia does it for the wrong reasons. France and other countries imposing restrictions are doing it for the right reason — to protect people from COVID-19.”

How much curtailment of your basic freedoms are you willing to accept in order to reduce your chances of catching COVID-19? If you’re willing to live a more restricted existence than the citizens of nations known for flagrant violations of human rights, then perhaps it’s best that you just emigrate to them already. Because they’re only too willing to take away all of your basic freedoms to ensure zero risk to you, your community or (perhaps most critically) their authority.

The terrorists and the sanitary ayatollahs have the same worldview — one that imposes their mindset on all non-believers. Governments have willingly given into the demands of the virus-obsessed through endless virtue-signaling, selling out the average citizen and our way of life, little by little, piece by piece, law by law, all while claiming to be unafraid.

Except that governments are afraid. They fear falling out of line with conventional wisdom and the thinking that has paralyzed Western societies through political correctness and sanitary fascism. But until they fear a massive backlash by those of us fed up with their actions, we can expect our countries to increasingly resemble the authoritarian regimes that we so often denounce.

(Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist and host of an independently produced French-language program that airs on Sputnik France. Her website can be found at http://www.rachelmarsden.com.)

© 2020 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

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