It’s been over a year since the first covid restrictions were imposed, and I wonder how long will Spaniards continue to be held hostage by their political class. A state of emergency criticized by prestigious constitutional experts and justices but defended to the hilt by the government and de facto by the main non-opposition party (PP) has suppressed our rights and liberties with the stroke of a pen under the alibi of an epidemic whose countrywide peak was definitively left behind twelve months ago. In the face of this outrage, our Constitutional Court continues with its clamorous silence (which resembles a dereliction of duty), without getting up from its siesta or shaking off its impudent politicization. The worst thing is that perhaps Murphy’s law will apply and that the ruling, if it finally comes, will nail definitively the coffin of the prestige of such a high court. And I ask myself again: when has it been necessary to sacrifice freedom and suspend the rule of law to confront a respiratory virus?
It is doubly disturbing that this state of emergency has degenerated into a police state accompanied, as it usually happens, by the usual figure of informers and collaborators, motivated more often than not by envy or malice rather than by altruism. Spain used to be a country where police scrupulousness in respecting the law and not crossing the line was the rule. Now we have seen policemen breaking down the door of an apartment apparently without warrant or flagrant crime to stop a gathering of 15 young people having drinks (opposed to lockdown rules), the same police who hesitate to ring the doorbell when it comes to ousting squatters. The only thing missing was a SWAT team abseiling down the façade and throwing stun grenades to control such a dangerous situation. We have also seen police jumping over the fence of a private property during the lockdown to demand a group of priests living together to stop walking in the courtyard of their residence not because they were breaking the lockdown law, but “out of solidarity”, and cocky interruptions of worship (a possible crime according to the Penal Code) in Catholic churches. The authorities have not condemned a single one of these events, so that many citizens, defenders of law and order, have begun to see the police as antagonists, a drift as logical as it is worrying.
Fear spreads like wildfire in a haystack. Thus, the constant hammering of the campaign of terror whipped up by the political-media-pharmaceutical conglomerate has provoked a generalized melancholy and a multitude of cases of depression, neurosis and hypochondria. Some citizens have even developed a Stockholm syndrome whereby they justify the curtailment of their freedoms “in order to save their lives”. This encourages the power junkies to increase their sadistic despotism (which is beginning to create addiction), since compliance with absurd rules is, above all, an exercise in submission, the more humiliating the more absurd the measure.
As it could not be otherwise, the virus continues to circulate at will regardless of closures, masks and confinements that have ruined tens of thousands of families and caused widespread mental depression without accomplishing anything to write home about. After a year of studying and sharing the best medical and statistical literature on covid that I could find (you can access the sources at www.fpcs.es), please grant me the license to vent just a bit: most of these totalitarian public health measures are unscientific, arbitrary and as useless as the politicians who dictate them. Remember the obsession with surface cleaning? Almost a year ago it was already known that this route of contagion was highly improbable (as I explained in Fear as an Instrument of Power, Expansión June 2, 2020), but the authorities have only now acknowledged it, and the same will happen with many other measures that belong to the realm of magic and superstition rather than science. The empirical evidence is so devastatingly opposed to these restrictions that only the panic created by the media and the sclerosis of critical thinking typical of our society explain their persistence. Almost two months ago, for example, with only 7% of its population fully vaccinated, the state of Texas returned to absolute normalcy without any masks or restrictions and covid cases have dropped by 50%. The futility of locking up perfectly healthy people is clear, even more so after the publication of a recent meta-analysis showing that asymptomatic people are not a relevant factor in the rate of secondary infections and hardly contribute to the spread of the virus (as is the case with other respiratory viruses). The indiscriminate imposition of facemasks (particularly shameful and harmful in schoolchildren) is another unscientific farce contrary to what experts have been advocating for years, and wearing them outdoors is sheer stupidity, as even the New York Times is beginning to recognize. Even today, despite enormous political pressure, the ECDC (the European authority on infectious diseases) is skeptical about the “limited” evidence in favor of their widespread use, and only recommends them, reluctantly, “in confined public spaces”, adding that, at most, “they can be considered in crowded outdoor settings”. Facemasks are known to be ineffective in preventing the transmission of other respiratory viruses (which is why they have never been used in this way before), and the only randomized study to measure their efficacy on covid in Denmark has yielded equally poor results. The comparative evidence between US states and its null result in Spain point in the same direction: except in cases of pure logic, the masks only serve as a talisman, as journalists (who do not wear them on the sets) and politicians (who do not wear them at rallies) seem to know. And the ban on eating more than four people at the same table in a restaurant? In addition to discriminatory to large families, it is a measure that experts define as “alien to any scientific evidence” and a product of “rolling the dice”. However, our political class continues to deny the scientific evidence (who are the covid deniers?) and to defend its theatrical measures, endowing them with a certain punitive character. For example, the politician-wardens justified the autumn restrictions “in order to save Christmas” and the winter restrictions “in order to save Easter”, but both dates came and they locked us in our cells and then brazenly blamed us for the subsequent seasonal upturn. How then do they explain that some Muslim countries like Turkey (obviously without Christmas and Easter celebrations) have suffered similar upturns?
Citizen weariness is slowly breaking the shackles of a spell based on ignorance, irrational fear and deceit. Statistics show that in a large part of Spain there is no longer a health emergency or excess mortality. Let us demand the end of this totalitarian experiment and the return to the rule of law and to scientific measures that focus on protecting the population at risk, the only one that needs to be protected.
Fernando del Pino Calvo-Sotelo