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The Rise of Karen-ism Means This Lockdown Nonsense Needs To End Soon

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

One of the least appealing aspects of the American character is the residual Puritanism that still compels a certain percentage of our countrymen, women and others, to nag, pester, and generally annoy the rest of us by trying to make us conform to their stick-up-the-Lieu vision of propriety. These people – these obnoxious Karens, for lack of a better FCC-compliant term – are delighted by the Chinese Bat Biter grippe and the opportunity it presents for them to try to impose their arbitrary will upon the rest of us. These mewling Mussolinis need to be slapped back, verbally if not physically, but as long as we are under this lockdown, they will not stop. They live for this, the chance to dictate to and control us, and the problem is some of them have positions of power.


This is yet another reason – as if the failure of the “We’re all gonna die!” model and the mass economic devastation the Twitter blue checks ignore were not reasons enough – that we need to be focusing on coming out of this Wuhan flu funk. If would be a pity if pangolin licking not only killed thousands of our most vulnerable citizens but also our will to resist petty tyrants who presume to scold us for such crimes as worshipping our God, seeing our families, and buying tomato seeds.

This is not to say that the Chinese coronavirus pandemic is fake or unserious, nor that we should ignore it and pretend that it’s just another flu. It is to say that there is more going on now than a respiratory ailment. There’s an economic ailment that most of us are painfully aware of, and there is a freedom ailment, where the Karens in everyday life and in the corridors or power are taking advantage of this crisis to let their fascist flag fly. 

When you have some petty official commanding Christians not to gather together in worship, that’s a line that they don’t get to cross. No official gets to ban religious services. My church is doing its services by video, because that’s what we decided. Government officials don’t get to decide. The question of whether they can ban religious services got decided by the First Amendment, and while they may think it’s a really, really good idea to tell us what to do, they don’t get to. As federal judge Justin Walker put it in a powerful opinion that every American of any faith, or no faith, should read in its glorious entirety:


On Holy Thursday, an American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter. That sentence is one that this Court never expected to see outside the pages of a dystopian novel, or perhaps the pages of The Onion. But two days ago, citing the need for social distancing during the current pandemic, Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer ordered Christians not to attend Sunday services, even if they remained in their cars to worship – and even though it’s Easter. The Mayor’s decision is stunning. And it is, “beyond all reason,” unconstitutional.

By the way, Judge Walker was appointed by Donald Trump and his confirmation was shepherded by Cocaine Mitch. Don’t channels the Fredocons by pretending that judges do not matter because you know there would be plenty of Clinton and Obama judges eager to rubberstamp the banning of Christian or Orthodox Jewish services by liberal political Karens seeking to own the normals.

In Michigan, Governor Karen O’Karenheimer decided that buying non-essential stuff should be outlawed, and guess who decided what’s non-essential? Well, dope appears essential, but dope smokin’ morons make up a lot of the Democrat base (and the Libertarian base too), so off course hopheads get a pass. But gardening supplies and seeds? Nah. Why? Because, that’s why. You might think it was mind-bendingly stupid if you did not understand her real motivation – it’s the giddy joy of bossing you around. To paraphrase a great line from Heat, which everyone should do as often as possible, the fascism is the juice.


The Karenists love this. Love it. And that’s why they are fighting tooth and nail to extend this lockdown in perpetuity. Oh, they have excuses and rationalizations to make it seem like this is for our own good as opposed for their jollies. “Safety.” “Lives at stake.” You know them all. And in theory, those are real considerations. But they are not the only considerations. Not for the Karens – they can want to save lives even as they gleefully get off on their own power – and not for us either. We need to balance all the considerations in deciding when this ends. Safety is an important thing, but not the only thing. If the standard is no life can ever be put at risk, say good-bye to cars, to steak, to swimming pools, to any kind of freedom to make choices. And to the Karens, that’s a feature, not a bug.

We need to come out of this and reopen soon, not just to save our economy – though we totally do need to save our economy – but to save ourselves from coming to believe that freedom is a luxury we can’t afford. Freedom is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Maybe a Karen’s life is worth living on its knees, but I’ve gotten used to being free and I’m thinking that if I can’t be free, then why bother being at all? How about you?

This is not to say that we should pretend there’s no pandemic. In fact, few people do or want to – that’s not what freedom requires. It’s to say that persuasion must be the default, not intimidation. Like most of you, I mostly stayed at home, wore a mask, and distanced myself, not because some Karen was going to jump my Schiff if I didn’t but because I decided that these were reasonable precautions that I should take for myself and my fellow citizens. That’s how we all started off, and that’s how we should still be doing it, but the Karens gotta Karen, and we’re not going to take it.


You look at half-wit pols dreamcasting that we’re going to sit in our houses like sheep for the next year awaiting their permission to live again, and you see vids of cops shamefully tackling unmasked people on buses and you know that we’ve turned a corner. These goofs have overstepped. Rampant Karenism is going to provoke a backlash, one that might include people disregarding legit medical precautions because YouTubes of Keystone Kops chasing lone joggers around empty beaches have nuked the authorities’ credibility. The clock is ticking on our patience. This needs to end.

The President should set a federal timeline, with federal objectives for reopening America. Now, he’s limited in what he can order – the vast majority of the responsibility and the authority is the purview of governors and local officials who need to be doing what’s right for their own uniquely situated communities. But the President can certainly spotlight who is moving toward normalcy and who is trying to wring the last drop of authoritarianism out of the Weird Stuff Eating flu. And in November, we’ll remember who is a Karen, and who is not.

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Karens start out nagging and end up much, much worse. Want to see how it goes if we don’t keep our freedom hand strong? Then check out my action-packed conservative novels about a dystopian blue state future, People's RepublicIndian Country, Wildfire, and Collapse! And join up with Townhall VIP for near-daily chats with your favorite VIP reprobates, get my podcast, “Unredacted” every Monday, and also check out my new Hugh Hewitt-5cafffiliated Salem podcast, “Fighting Words”!

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