Ever get the feeling we’ve been here before? We have. At the height of the worst pandemic in American history – the Spanish flu of 1918 – cities across the country did something, modern America would find familiar. They issued mandatory mask mandates and punished anyone who didn't comply. "The man or woman or child who will not wear a mask now is a dangerous slacker," read a typical announcement from the Red Cross.
The city of San Francisco, took the rules so seriously that a city health agent shot a man who refused to wear a mask – he hit the two bystanders who happened to be standing behind the man. That seemed a bit much to some people, but many others went along with it. They were afraid of the virus. They wanted to do their part to stop it. Most of all, they trusted their leaders. If their leaders put a mandate in place, they assumed it was for a good reason and they wanted to help.
Then, a single picture changed everything. A photographer attending a boxing match in San Francisco snapped a shot of several high-ranking city officials – including the mayor, a member of Congress, and a senior health administrator – sitting at the event, all completely unmasked. The photograph went national. Americans were shocked to discover that the people making and enforcing the rules had no intention of following those rules. Mask mandates across the country ended shortly after. The public was willing to endure inconvenience, but not hypocrisy.
America is facing a similar moment right now. Once again, officials in California have been caught on camera exposing their own contempt for their own public health measures. Video has emerged from a Democratic fundraiser on Sunday morning in Napa Valley, just north of San Francisco. Nancy Pelosi was there. She’s got an estate nearby. So were other Democratic officials, as well as the party’s biggest donors, who paid $30,000 a ticket to be there. The first thing you notice about the group, other than how strikingly non-diverse it is, is that none of them are wearing masks. They’re breathing all the fresh air they want, like it’s 2019. The only people there in masks are their servants – faceless brown serfs, scurrying back and forth to bring them things. Nothing worse than having the help breathe on you. But that’s not a problem for Nancy Pelosi:
Maskless Nancy Pelosi at fundraiser Napa Valley, Ca - Sunday: But for now, the question is about how we reach out to young people.
It’s repulsive but revealing. It’s pretty clear at this point that Nancy Pelosi – our chief COVID enforcer – doesn’t believe a word she says about the virus. She’s 81 years old, deep in the risk range for the virus. She’s standing at a crowded event in Napa, which according to the Biden administration’s color-coded map, is one of the riskiest places in the country for coronavirus transmission. Yet she’s not social distancing, or wearing a face shield. She doesn’t even have a mask on. She knows she’s not in danger. There are no Republicans present, so there’s no reason to pretend otherwise.
As a reminder, here’s what she sounds like back in Washington:
Nancy Pelosi: Members and staff will be required to wear masks at all times // This is a mask (puts it on). From all over the country I’m getting these masks // Real men wear masks and masks are essentially important // The chair views the failure to wear a mask as a serious breach of decorum. // I have no advice for them except when they come here, they have to wear a mask. // But in any case (pretends to put mask on) I’m a big believer in wearing a mask and not sharing any air unnecessarily
The real justification for mask mandates was when she said, "Failure to wear a mask is a serious breach of decorum," and she means it. That’s why in Napa, the servants wear masks as they bring Pelosi her wine. Decorum demands it.
Has there ever been a clearer window into the society they’re trying to build? Our formerly middle-class nation now has a serf class. They’re the ones wearing the masks, being forced to take drugs they don’t want, being told not to communicate with one another, except through digital channels the Democratic Party controls. We now have two groups of Americans, not a broad middle. The favored and the unfavored. The saved and the damned. The vaccinated and the unvaccinated. That’s how the architects of all this see the country.
Michael Hayden once ran the two most powerful spy agencies in the country – the CIA and the NSA. Yesterday, a Twitter user asked him this question. Quote: "Can we send the MAGA- wearing unvaxxed to Afghanistan?" Yes, replied Hayden. "Good idea." That’s how contemptuous they feel about you. Shut up and fetch another glass of Riesling, serf. And be sure not to breathe on me, or you’ll be deported. These are bad attitudes and are accelerating. How far can this go, you wonder?
Consider New Zealand, a famously placid outpost in the fast-shrinking Anglosphere. A single COVID case on the island – not a death from COVID, but a case of COVID – has shut down the entire country. New Zealanders have been told they are no longer allowed to talk to their neighbors:
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern, last week: Stay local and do not congregate. Don’t talk to your neighbors. Please keep to your bubbles. It comes down again to those very simple principles. We know from overseas, cases of the delta variant, that it can be spread by people simply walking past one another. So keep those movements outside to the bare minimum. Wear a mask and make sure to keep up that physical distancing.
By the way, Ardern is very popular with people like Michael Hayden. She’s super impressive, visionary really. Don’t talk to your neighbors – stay in your bubble! That’s New Zealand. But it’s freer than Australia.
In Australia, the government has implemented total lockdowns nationwide, and imposed martial law to enforce them. What’s the justification for this? Here are the numbers: From mid-July to last week, the entire country of Australia – a population of 25 million – has averaged about 1.5 COVID deaths per day. That has been enough to justify the end of Australia and totalitarianism. In one recent case, authorities executed rescue dogs – shot them to death – to prevent Australian dog lovers from traveling to adopt them. Leaving your home is not allowed, so they just killed the dogs. And the population put up with it. They were told they had to.
Nightly news in Australia now looks like a science fiction film. One recent report described a 27-year-old fugitive. Was he a mass killer? No. He dared to venture outside of his apartment complex. For doing that, the media showed surveillance footage of him entering his elevator and sneezing without covering his face. There was nobody else in the elevator at the time. For that, there's now a nationwide manhunt underway. An arrest warrant has just been issued. We’re not making this up.
And that man isn’t the only person Australian media and police are hunting down. One Australian news outlet just reported, quote, "A tip to Crime Stoppers has blown the lid on a church service at #Blacktown, attended by 60 adults and children. The gathering has been described as selfish and arrogant."
What else is selfish and arrogant in Australia? It's not just going to church or leaving your apartment or trying to adopt a rescue dog. Watching the sunset is also selfish and arrogant:
Daniel Andrews, premier of Victoria: There's a bunch of people down at the Rye Beach last night who thought the best thing to do was to watch the sunset. I'm sure it was a beautiful sunset. But that's not in the spirit or in the letter of these rules.
Scolded for watching the sunset. Executing rescue dogs. A nationwide manhunt for a guy who sneezed alone in an elevator. No one in Australia is laughing at this. No one is standing back far enough to see the lunacy on display – they’re too far gone.
This has been in the works in Australia for a long time, long before COVID. In 2016, the government of Australia ended almost all legal protections for public protests. At the time, people tolerated it; they trusted in their government. On Saturday, as protesters gathered in Melbourne, the government used its new authority to silence them:
Australian Police Violently Cracked Down on anti-lockdown protesters: (Protesters clash with police and tons of protesters run away) // (Police shoot rubber bullets and pepper spray at protesters) // Protester is arrested and yells: Why are you arresting me? Why are you arresting me? What law did I break? // Protester is violently shoved and arrested by multiple police and a bystander yells // Woman draped in Australian flag is shoved and arrested as police yell: Put your hands behind your back! // (Police arrest and shove protester as sirens go off)
If that were to happen in Tehran, we’d all tug our chins and say, "That’s the mullahs, they’re not like us." But it’s not Iran, it’s not North Korea – it’s Australia. What we thought was a rules-based society.
"What law did I break?" the protester asks. That would have been a good question a few years ago. It's too late now. We're seeing now what happens when countries tolerate authoritarians, even for a moment. You can either rebel immediately like San Francisco did in 1918. Or you can shut up and end up like Australia, and watch them shoot your dogs.
This article is adapted from Tucker Carlson's opening commentary on the August 23, 2021 edition of "Tucker Carlson Tonight."