I love my freedom. To write like this. Uncensored. Free. It feels good knowing that no one will come knocking on my door and then take me away for a little ‘chat’.
But some of us feel governments are restricting their freedoms in the most extreme form. Their freedom not to be vaccinated is diminished because they cannot travel easily or eat out anymore unless they get tested. They think it is unfair that governments are asking them to pay for testing rather than having testing paid for by the taxpayer. They sometimes feel so strongly about this that they use terms like Corona Apartheid, Covid Gestapo, or Corona Dictatorship. Are strong terms like this really justified?
My Dutch grandfather was forced to work as a forced laborer in Hamburg during the dictatorship of the National Socialists in Germany. He died in Hamburg during an allied bombing raid. He had no choice, he had to go to Hamburg or face imprisonment.
He was discriminated against. Only Germans were allowed to seek protection in a bombing raid shelter. He was Dutch and had to stay outside. It cost him his life.
That is what dictatorship means to me. You have no choice. You are a 2nd class person. You might be imprisoned, tortured or murdered if you belong to the wrong group of people or disagree with the dominating ideology.
Some bloggers and social media authors saturate the web with catchy terms like ‘Cyber Dictatorship’. But just the fact that they can do this in Europe and the Western world in general, is proof that we are not living in a dictatorship. The fact that no one is being forced to be vaccinated is proof that there is no such thing as a Covid Gestapo. Try posting some anti-government slogans in China and see what happens.
Sure, wearing a mask is inconvenient. Having to pay for testing if I choose not to be vaccinated is another inconvenience. But why should the mostly vaccinated majority continue to fund that choice when the science is clear that vaccines protect us from Covid?
Masks, testing – these are minor issues compared to the tragedy that occurs in a real dictatorship. It is a far cry from the suppression of freedom of speech in a totalitarian state. It holds no comparison to the torture, suffering, and pain people endure in a totalitarian state.
I recognize that the definition of the word ‘dictatorship’ is fluid. Each one of us will have a different understanding of the word. Maybe we are lucky if this current generation thinks that masks and covid-tests are the worst that can happen to a person if these are the actions and consequences of a Corona Dictatorship and their Covid Gestapo.
But the memory of world war two, the Bosnian war, and recent events in Afghanistan show a reality that is different. Real dictatorships still exist. But here in the EU we are not living in one of them. We can speak freely. Though Hungary and Poland are exceptions. Freedom of the press and an independent judiciary are under threat in these two EU-member states. Perhaps those of us who are really so worried about our freedoms should focus more on what is going on in Hungary and Poland and be less concerned with the perceived restriction of liberties due to Covid. We can choose not to get vaccinated and instead get tested. We are not anywhere near the Corona Cyber-dictatorship some would have us believe.
Having said all that, I accept that some people prefer to think of Corona prevention measures as actions imposed on them by a Corona Dictorship. In our democracy, they are free to write and say this. But I do not agree with them. Their comparison lacks respect for all the victims that suffered in a real dictatorship. For example, my personal data would not be safe in a dictatorship. Nor could I write this freely about a topic like this in a totalitarian state. And while the EU and its member states made mistakes during the pandemic, most of us are safer now with the vaccine and the EU Covid QR-code than we were at the beginning of the pandemic. And that’s a good thing. Full-stop.