The authoritarian’s delight
This has gone way too far. The government of Macedonia — ostensibly led by Oliver Spasovski but whose power behind the throne is and remains the name and identity-changer Zoran Zaev — is enjoying its authority during this crisis a bit too much. Let us count just three of those ways:
-Using the Army of the Republic of Macedonia to police the streets in Prilep to physically keep people two meters apart. Not only does this send a very bad signal to Macedonians (the army — of any country — is there to protect from outside threats — not to police the citizenry), but it’s just bad optics for an international audience (not to mention the question of, “is it constitutional?”).
-Imposing an Easter curfew of 85 hours. Let me repeat that: 85 hours. Starting on Friday, April 17, at 4 pm and continuing until Tuesday, April 20, at 5 am, citizens throughout the entirety of the Republic of Macedonia will not be allowed to leave their homes. No visits to the grocery stores, pharmacy, gas stations (and why would you be driving?), parks, nothing. And, not to put too fine a point on it, but the government has stated that these weekend curfews could go on through the middle of May (granted, “only” lasting from Fridays at 4 pm until Mondays at 5 am). Why? The rest of the planet recommends and, indeed, mostly observes, the two-meter social distancing rule. Encourage the faithful to celebrate Easter from their homes, in parks (while social-distancing), and let people be creative. But locking them up in their homes? Something else is afoot.
-Physically wrapping up city park benches with plastic wrap to prevent people from sitting on them. We have seen this time and again throughout the world. Some government official, who was probably the hall monitor in high school with a badge and a wee bit of authority, now finds it euphoric and gets a dopamine hit while shutting down city parks, lakes, entire national parks, and now, park benches. This is not the appropriate role of government now, or ever. And yet some people with low self-esteem but just a little bit of power find it thrilling to tell the citizens where they can, and cannot, sit while outside.
There is more, of course. But this is insane. And it is not necessary.
And yet the government of Macedonia, made up of the political party of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia — before 1991, the League of Communists of Macedonia (and together with their junior ethnic Albanian party, the Democrat Union of Integration, which, before it was a political party, was a terrorist outfit, the so-called “National Liberation Army” though “liberation” from what was never explicitly said) — is pushing these policies, and more, aggressively, using the excuse of the coronavirus.
Most experts — around the world — agree that shutting down schools and large gatherings and practicing the so-called “social distancing” is enough to, in the phrase of 2020, “flatten the curve.” But keeping people, physically, locked in their homes for 85 hours — and over Easter weekend? No, these are the diktats of an authoritarian government.
American commentator David Harsanyi writing for National Review Online notes that “Free people act out of self-preservation, but they shouldn’t be coerced to act through the authoritarian whims of the state.” Which is true but begs the question: are Macedonians a free people? Do they want to be free?
The good news — if there is good news — is that at some point this madness will end. At some point parliamentary elections (which were scheduled to be held on April 12, originally) will be held. And at that point, the people will have their say.
My question is: will the people meekly accept their fate at the hands of the SDSM/DUI government and re-elect the authoritarians? Or will they reclaim what is rightly theirs — liberty and freedom?