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Progressivism and Public Health

My friend Todd Zywicki (of GMU Law) and I are on a couple of different private e-mail listservs with a number of other people who are dismayed by covid hysteria and the resulting lockdowns and mandates. On one of these listservs is also Laura Rosen Cohen, who recently penned this fine essay for Newsweek (to which I linked a few days ago). When Ms. Cohen shared her Newsweek piece with the group, Todd wrote the e-mail below. I share it here with Todd’s kind permission.

This is superb.

But there is a larger and more menacing lesson lurking under the surface here. From the origins of modern Progressivism and Public Health (in many ways the 2 go together) in the early 20th century, their defining motivation has been sort of a crude, reductionist utilitarianism that sacrifices individuals to the grinding wheel of scientific, cold, calculating management of society.

It is no coincidence that the same Progressives who readily threw your son overboard are also those who crusaded for eugenics and forced sterilization a century ago. “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” And encourage abortions for the mentally and physically disabled. And the Death Panels that were discussed during the Obamacare debates.

Jacobson beget Buck v Bell. And Buck v Bell beget Korematsu and the wholesale violation of Japanese-American civil rights during WWII for no reason other than their ethnicity.

These are the same people who never paused to force vaccination on those with natural immunity–it later came out that was because it would have just been “too much trouble” as a bureaucratic administrative matter to try to accommodate an exception for natural immunity.

What you and your son experienced is heartbreaking and cruel. But it is the logical working out of the cold utilitarian worldview that passes for “Progressivism.”

Oh yeah, the sole dissenting Judge in Buck v Bell was Justice Pierce Butler, a devout Catholic.

Todd J. Zywicki
George Mason University Foundation Professor of Law
Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University