Tuesday was #BlackoutTuesday, when high-end emporia and fashionable brands all blacked out their logos in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter. I'm thinking of starting #PlywoodThursday, when SteynOnline covers up its logo with a sheet of plywood in solidarity with all those convenience stores and all-night pharmacies trying to ward off the looters. Perhaps we'll get a hashtag - #FunctioningSocietyMatters, if only to a few of us.
The New Normal and the Old Normal operate simultaneously: it's illegal to barbecue a steak in your backyard but feel free to barbecue the entire supermarket you got it from. The internal contradictions of Lockdownistan holding state-approved riots are no problem for a skilled commissar like New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy:
He addressed the apparent disconnect between his own executive order shutting down nonessential businesses and his support for the protests, which concentrated populations in violation of social distancing.
'It's one thing to protest â€“ I don't want to make light of this and I'll probably get lit up by everybody who owns a nail salon in the state, but it's one thing to protest what day nail salons are opening and it's another to come out in peaceful protest overwhelmingly about somebody who was murdered right before our eyes.'
Oh, okay, then. In the new America, business is non-essential but riots are essential. Don't take it from a mere politician; ask an expert - like Gregg Gonsalves, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases) at Yale. Only a couple of weeks back he was raging against the utter irresponsibility of these deranged nail-salon habituĂ©s:
How many people will die this summer, before Election Day? What proportion of the deaths will be among African-Americans, Latinos, other people of color? This is getting awfully close to genocide by default. What else do you call mass death by public policy..?
Can they be held responsible under international law?
Gotcha. Genocide of blacks and Latinos. Sounds pretty serious. Need to take it to The Hague.
But that's so last week. Yesterday Professor Gonsalves signed the open letter (mentioned on The Mark Steyn Show) from over a thousand epidemiologists and other public health experts:
A public health response to these demonstrations is also warranted, but this message must be wholly different from the response to white protesters resisting stay-home orders. Infectious disease and public health narratives adjacent to demonstrations against racism must be consciously anti-racist, and infectious disease experts must be clear and consistent in prioritizing an anti-racist message.
White supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19.
The science is settled. So this "white protester" whining about his late loved one is wasting his time unless he wants to bury his mother in the middle of a #BlackLivesMatter rally in Trafalgar Square:
It's my mother's funeral in 12 days time. We can't have the church service she wanted and only 10 mourners are allowed. Would anyone mind explaining why? pic.twitter.com/SaZwitZRNXâ€” Jason Veloce (@V6_Veloce) June 3, 2020
The protests have now spread around the world - so that the same nation whipped into a frenzy by Dominic Cummings driving his autistic child to the grandparents is now packed shoulder to shoulder in the streets demanding Dominic Cummings show he cares by driving the kid, granny and a couple hundred of their closest friends to the farthest #BLM rally.
That picture is rather revealing. ď»żThe difference between America and almost everywhere else (though not Montreal) is that the international protests are peaceful. Which means even less social distancing. Because, at least on a riot, folks tend to stay on their toes, either to break off and lob a brick through a window or in case the adjoining chap has a yen to stab you. So, if there's anyone out there still interested in the whys and wherefores of Covid-19 transmission, it would seem to me that the above peaceful protest might actually be more infectious than a full-blown looting spree. Perhaps all those epidemiologists could weigh in.
Ah, but the experts have moved on, haven't they? #BlackLivesMatter, and the Black Death of the new plague is as non-essential as last week's fish wrap...
~In the midst of all this Covid and carnage, there is fortunately some good news:
A woman who is the first UK deputy district judge to wear a hijab said she hoped to be a "trailblazer".
Raffia Arshad, a member of St Mary's Chambers in Nottingham, received her letter of appointment as judge for the Midlands circuit last week.
"I don't just see it as a personal achievement, it is bigger than that," the 40-year-old said...
Judge Arshad, an expert in Islamic family law, said although the judicial office and appointments commission were doing their "absolute upmost", the judiciary "is still not diverse enough".
She's right that it's "bigger than that". Perhaps one day she'll be Lady Chief Justice or Mistress of the Rolls. Does the hijab go over the wig or under?
~On the subject of judges - or in this case "judges" - I used to say the FISA racket should go because the "court" is a rubber stamp. (I had the misfortune to appear in another setting before one of the "judges", Frank Maas, a most unimpressive fellow and one hopes below the general standard.) There are thousands of applications per year, of which I believe only two have been denied this century.
But now we learn that the formal petitioners before the rubber-stamp court are themselves rubber stamps. FISA applications are supposed to be signed by the most senior figures in the Justice Department -ie, the Attorney General or his deputy - because ensuring the boss is on board with it is supposedly a safeguard against abuses by rogue agents. From yesterday's hearing:
Rod Rosenstein: (01:16:02) Senator, my understanding is that these FISA applications followed a very rigorous process, and that they were accurate, that they were verified. The whole principle of having an agent sign it under oath is that you can rely on the facts.
Senator Mike Lee: (01:16:15) And the whole point of having the Deputy Attorney General sign off on them was to have somebody who would be accountable to someone who was in turn accountable to the voters, who could verify their accuracy. Is that right? And yet that did not happen...
Rosenstein: You asked me about reading the FISA. There are a lot of FISA applications that come through. Some are more significant than others. This one was unusual in that I already knew about it because of the Russia investigation. Most of the FISA applications that are presented to me, I'm the last eyes on them before they're filed to the court, and I know nothing about them. This one, I actually knew a fair amount about, and they gave it to me in advance so I could review it. I'm not sure I read every page, but I was familiar with what was in it.
Every year a secret court rubber-stamps secret applications rubber-stamped by impressively senior bureaucrats who don't bother reading them - and in order to open 24/7 surveillance on American citizens. But don't worry, say the experts; it's a "myth" that it's easy to get a FISA warrant:
Although it's true that statistics show judges rarely deny applications for FISA warrants or criminal wiretaps, the government rarely submits applications that aren't approved because there are are several rounds of conversations the Department of Justice must go through in order to obtain warrants.
By "rounds of conversations", they mean billets doux between Peter Strzok's and Lisa Page's cellphones.
Carter Page (no relation) should be as famous as George Floyd - and this court should be out of business.
~Please join me this evening for Part Six of our current Tale for Our Time - my reading of G K Chesterton's metaphysical thriller of policemen posing as anarchists and vice-versa, The Man Who Was Thursday.
Tales for Our Time is made with the support of members of The Mark Steyn Club. I'm very grateful to all our members around the world, from London, England to London, Ontario to London, Kiribati. If the looters are rampaging through your downtown and you want to self-quarantine for another month, we hope you'll have a think about joining our ranks and exploring in your imagination the boundless horizons of Conan Doyle, Jack London, H G Wells and more. For further information on The Mark Steyn Club, see here - and don't forget our special Gift Membership.