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Washington state lawmaker Robert Sutherland (R-Granite Falls) took part in a protest at the state capitol in Olympia, calling for an armed rebellion if he couldn’t go fishing as a result of the stay-at-home order. I understand the concern over economic hardship caused by social distancing to slow the pandemic and try to give people the benefit of the doubt in regard to their motivations. But the more I watch how these extremists at “let us get sick and die” protests behave, I think all they’re really looking for is a chance to “defend” themselves. Many on the far right have been talking about “second amendment solutions” for years. They don’t want to go fishing or go shopping. They want to kill people they hate and are trying to make it look like self-defense.

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The right-wing lieutenant governor of Texas said, “There are more important things than living.” And he’s right, at least as far as these extremists are concerned. And that more important thing…is killing.

I think of police officers who shoot unarmed motorists and then plant a gun on the body. I think of “good neighbors” who start a fight with someone “suspicious” and then “have” to kill that person in self-defense. Yes, not all officers are horrible. Not all neighbors are wannabe killers. But some are. And the evidence accumulates daily that these extremists who want to “liberate Minnesota” and “liberate Michigan” and “liberate the country” are driven more by hatred than the desire to see a movie at the theater.

If all you want is to see a movie, why are you waving a Confederate flag while you protest? If all you want is to go bowling, why are you shoving and beating journalists who are simply recording you exercising your First Amendment rights? If all you want is to go fishing, why are you threatening to kill your colleagues at work?

I’ll admit, there are some people on the far right who I don’t like, a few I might actually hate. But I don’t spend my days coming up with ways to justify killing them. I hope to reason. I hope to persuade. I hope to rally enough voters who are open to reason and persuasion to vote. But I don’t look for opportunities to kill.

When it first became apparent that ICE detention centers were going to be overrun by the virus, concerned citizens began demanding that asylum seekers be released. But I knew it was never going to happen. Those on the right might never say it publicly, but many of them are happy the families they’ve put in concentration camps are going to die. Some will act deeply offended and scream their denial, the way they pretend Trump was only joking about shooting up bleach. We all know the truth, but we’re pressured into believing we’ve signed a social contract to keep pretending we don’t. So even if the offensive comment is true, perhaps “civility” dictates an apology on my part.

The same civility that has right-wing politicians keeping people imprisoned as the virus spreads through the camps. Sure, a few children are released, a few parents are deported, but tens of thousands of human beings remain trapped as the infection spreads.

“Leaders” throughout the country are also “working on” ways to release non-violent offenders from state and federal prisons. And as they “try” to “work out” the details, the infection rate at some prisons has already reached 75%.

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Because really, though no decent person would say so out loud, this virus is serendipitous, a perfect way to get rid of so many people those on the right don’t like.

You know, like the black and brown people in major cities—and on reservations—who die in disproportionately high numbers. Sure, we’ll get around to providing tests and ventilators and treatment eventually, but let’s allow the riff raff to die off first. We can just say it took longer than we’d hoped to get ourselves organized. Better yet, it was those stupid Democratic governors who couldn’t get their act together. If anyone’s to blame, it’s them.

Anne Frank wasn’t “murdered” during the Holocaust. She died of typhus, as did her sister Margot. Was it really the fault of their captors that these teenage girls got sick? Disease is simply a part of life, after all.

It’s hardly natural, though, if you deliberately create the conditions where the disease can kill those you don’t like in massive numbers.

People say that love is blind. But it turns out that hate is blind, too. Some of these extremists are so driven by their hatred they can’t grasp the fact that many of the people they love will also die because of their actions.

The right-wing lieutenant governor of Texas said, “There are more important things than living.” And he’s right, at least as far as these extremists are concerned. And that more important thing…is killing.

I only hope that for the rest of us, there are more important things than complaining. Or pretending.

Like organizing, striking, protesting. And voting.

Johnny Townsend

Johnny Townsend