Postcards From a Pandemic, Part Six: Bad Times for Little Hitlers
Some of us are going to have to find something else to put our judgy pants on for.
If there’s one group of people who’ve flourished in the global pandemic, it’s the judgy among us.
I use the term “Little Hitlers,” an English pejorative for those who never seem happy unless they are pointing out the flaws in others’ behaviour, and making constant suggestions, however unwanted, for the self-improvement of their neighbours.
Global pandemics, environmental crises, and world wars are tailor-made paradises for the Little Hitler. As we began the year, the primary occupation of the Little Hitlers among us was climate judginess. Who’s taking transit or riding a bike? Who’s using plastic bags or straws? Who drives electric or carpools?
In this recently passed era, the overlord of the Little Hitlers was Greta Thunberg. Remember her? I am sure she desperately wants you to. CNN does, too, having put her on an “expert” panel to discuss the COVID-19 outbreak despite her not having finished the 9th Grade. She had all the trademarks of the classic Little Hitler:
-absolutely convinced in her own righteousness
-deals in absolutes
-with us or against us mentality
-dramatic and emotional
Does this remind you of some people you know? I’m not talking about rational people saying, “Stay at home,” or “wash your hands,” I’m talking about people shrieking on YouTube or Facebook about “Why is everybody on this road?” Or, “Why is everybody at the beach?”
The question I always want to shout in response is; “Well what the hell are you doing there? What’s your excuse?” You see, Little Hitlers always assume their motives are pure, and yours are suspect. They are heroes, and you are villains at worst and sheep at best.
COVID-19 has in many ways brought about the Golden Age of Little Hitlers. We’ve all surely been submitted to much judginess by our Facebook pals, the main bullet points I tend to see over and over being:
-This is life and death. If you don’t follow all the rules without question, you don’t care about life.
-If you want the economy re-opened one second sooner than the leaders want, you don’t care about life.
-If you ask questions about the science, or about China’s role in the outbreak, you’re a “Virus Denier.” Sound familiar?
We’ve all got some friends like this. Perhaps some of us have found ourselves acting a bit like this sometimes, too. It’s an easy trap to fall into; judginess can feel so good. It makes us happier about own pathetic efforts. We’re on the right side, they’re on the wrong.
The problem is, in this case, that the “enemy,” if there is one, is a mindless organism so primitive it can’t even reproduce itself. It’s not people; for all the war analogies people are bandying about, this is not a war. Yes, we can certainly upbraid people for foolishly flouting social distancing or travel restrictions, but are we at the same time asking ourselves, “What’s my report card score?” Little Hitlers don’t tend towards introspection much.
To be sure, there’s much idiocy and stringency on display from those who want to fly free. People who believe it’s a “Plandemic” tend to be cut from the same cloth of those who never believed in climate change, or moon landings, for what it’s worth. However I may find the Little Hitlers irritating, I can’t excuse heavily armed idiots gathering in large groups to “peacefully” protest restrictions.
It’s not a peaceful protest if you bring an AK-47, fool.
So, the hectoring of the Little Hitlers hasn’t been entirely off the mark. But now, we’ve reached a crisis point. A growing consensus is building that it’s time to relax the restrictions. What on earth will the Little Hitlers do now?
For many jurisdictions, the crisis point will be after restrictions on movement and gathering are relaxed, and the dreaded “second wave” of infections arrives. I have no doubt that many will be calling for a return to lockdown.
This would be a colossal mistake. Many people, including I believe, most of the Little Hitlers, have failed to discern the purpose of the lockdowns. It was never intended to prevent the disease from infecting anyone else; everyone in public health knew that the virus would never completely disappear. No, it was to gather breathing room for the health care system to process COVID-19 patients, and to buy time for the development of vaccines and therapies.
When each jurisdiction feels that time and room have been obtained, hopefully, that is when they will begin to relax. I say “Hopefully,” because I realize there will be competing pressures and a hefty dose of politics involved.
But it’s not a choice between jobs and lives. Jobs are essential to life. What will we do if our food system collapses? It’s already showing serious strain. The emotional position is “One death is too many,” the rational position is, “What is an acceptable loss rate for a reopened economy, and at what point do we simply have to take a leap?”
Notice that one position is a statement. The other is a question. I don’t pretend to have the answer, unlike some. But I know we can’t live without food. Our kids need to go to school. Our government can’t keep handing out 2000 $ cheques for nothing.
But spare a thought for the Little Hitlers. Once things start opening up, what on earth will they lecture us about next?
Well, there’s still that climate emergency. Somebody, somewhere, may decide to build a pipeline. And we’ve all been using too many plastic bags!
My advice to the Little Hitlers is this: gargle for your vocal cords, get some rest, and start following Greta Thunberg again. There’s always something to lecture us about somewhere.
Grant Patterson is a retired law enforcement officer and author. He is the author of thirteen books, including the Will Bryant Thrillers, and the recently released alternate history “Slowly, the World Burns, While I Help to Fan the Flames.” His books are available on Amazon.com. His most recent book, “A Life on the Line,” a memoir of his time in the Canada Border Services Agency, has recently been serialized on Wattpad.com.