Editor's Сhoice
September 24, 2021
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The Dutch must now show their papers to live a normal life; it will not stop with Covid.

By Eva VLAARDINGERBROEK

Beginning tomorrow, September 25, everyone in the Netherlands above the age of 13 will need a “Digital Covid Certificate” in order to be allowed into restaurants, bars, theaters, cinemas, and concert halls. Basically, the things that make life enjoyable for most people, will be limited to those who are in possession of a Q.R. code that indicates they are either vaccinated, tested, or have recovered from Covid-19 within the past 160 days.

What is interesting—and, in my view, incredibly telling—about the Dutch situation in particular is that a whopping 85 percent of the Dutch population is currently already fully vaccinated. More than a year and a half into the Covid-crisis, it is estimated that 95 percent of the population has antibodies, and currently only 200 people are in the ICU. Yet it is at this very moment that our government decides to introduce the most far-reaching and invasive measure the Dutch have seen to date. This is only the beginning.

Apparently, the last 15 percent of the Dutch population needs to be jabbed—whatever it takes. The ones who, for whatever reason, choose not to be vaccinated are either doomed to the social life of a hermit or have to travel, sometimes quite far, to a certified test location to get a Q-tip shoved up their noses every single day. That is, if they want to ‘’earn back’’ their right to partake in everyday activities. So even though people are not yet physically forced to be vaccinated, what the government is doing now is something that can only be called coercion.

Since there is no official or legal end-date tied to the enforcement of the Covid pass, there is no reason to believe that the Q.R.-society that we’re turning into won’t become more restrictive, let alone that it will disappear. Just take a look at other European countries, like France, Germany, and Italy. I went to Germany recently, where I experienced first-hand what it felt like to be denied entry to a restaurant for being unvaccinated; the negative test results I had on me didn’t suffice. This will undoubtedly become the case at some point in Holland as well.

Although highly inconvenient and time consuming, testing is currently still an option in the Netherlands and it is still “free” (i.e., paid for by taxpayers’ money). But not for long. The Dutch government has already announced that, sooner rather than later, people will have to start paying for their own tests, making it impossible for most people, especially children and people with low or no income, to do it on a regular basis. It is also a given that the Covid pass won’t remain only used for “non-essential social and cultural facilities.” The Dutch government is currently looking for legal pathways to enforce vaccine passes in the workplace and for health care facilities, as is already the case in countries like France and Italy. As a result of this, many Italians who still refuse to get vaccinated are forced to take unpaid leave; it is a true Kafkaesque nightmare.

Legally, the enforcement of these Covid passes and the far-reaching consequences that they already have clearly form a grave breach of constitutional rights and civil liberties such as bodily integrity, the non-discrimination principle, and freedom of movement. It is often argued that these breaches do not technically form a legal ‘’violation’’ of our constitutional rights, because the breach is justified in view of public health. In my opinion, however, this is simply wrong.

First of all, if this line of argumentation would carelessly be accepted, any constitutional right could be set aside when the definition of a “justification” such as public health is stretched out far enough. This is something most people, especially legal scholars, are usually very wary of. Due to fear, behavioral manipulation, and a general fatigue when it comes to the Covid measures (‘’I just want my freedom back’’), a substantial group of people seem to accept or even want vaccine passports. In other words, people accept this drastic measure for all the wrong reasons.

Let’s start with fear. The Dutch government insisted on classifying the much less dangerous Covid-19 as a so called ‘’A-label disease’’—the same category as Ebola—as this provided them with a legal basis for far-reaching measures like lockdowns, curfews, and now the Covid pass systems. No wonder the government has often been accused of instrumentalizing the virus to enlarge its own legal competences and powers. After all, to most people the virus is not life-threatening at all, especially not to young people, who make up a very large part of the 15 percent of the Dutch population that is not vaccinated. Although of course some people can get very ill from Covid, the mortality rates are nowhere near as high as in the case of a virus like Ebola, which has a mortality rate of 50 percent.

No one will deny the fact that fear forms a great basis for inducing people to abstain from rational thinking and to accept disproportional government control. The Covid pass will not in any way slow down transmission of the virus, since both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can carry and transmit Covid. Yet only unvaccinated people are obliged to take a test in order to gain entry to public facilities. The system doesn’t just make a legally unjustified distinction between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated—discriminating between citizens on the basis of their medical data, which for privacy reasons should not be asked for in the first place—but it is also ineffective.

Although our government is of course well aware of the fact that vaccinated people can still get Covid and pass it on, they still aim to ostracize unvaccinated people and mark them as the enemies of public health. Just like President Joe Biden told American citizens that the government has “been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” the Dutch minister of public health, Hugo de Jonge, stated that “the freedom of one group [those who do not wish to be vaccinated] cannot continue to threaten the freedom of another group [those who are vaccinated],” reminiscent of John Stuart Mill’s utilitarian harm principle.

This type of divisive rhetoric by the government is incredibly dangerous. Our minister puts forward a completely false dilemma: These two groups do not threaten each other’s freedom. It is actually the government and the government only, here, that poses a fundamental threat to both groups’ freedom. These losses of freedoms are imposed by policy. The vaccine does not protect anyone but the person who takes it. Nevertheless, plenty of people who aren’t afraid of the virus at all, or maybe have already had it and have natural immunity, have taken the vaccine because they fear the government and the social consequences of not being vaccinated more than they do the virus itself. Since when did we start to regard such behavior or choices as ‘’normal’’?

Frustratingly, only a very limited number of people in the West see what is really at stake here. Most fail to see that, once these Q.R. systems are enforced and people have become accustomed to them, these systems can be used for a variety of other purposes as well. It is most likely not a coincidence that a couple of weeks ago, suddenly, a nationwide poll was conducted to enquire how the Dutch viewed the possibility of a “personal carbon credit” system. Nevertheless, a large majority seems to believe—or want to believe—that all of this is for the common good, or that it is at least all temporary and won’t “get that far.”

I hope they are right, but I cannot help feeling that Tocqueville hit the nail on the head, as he often did, when he wrote that the type of despotism democratic people have to fear will in no way look like the despotism and tyranny our ancestors endured: “It would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without tormenting them,” he wrote in 1840. And, in a way, the fact that it happens more gradually is what makes it arguably even more dangerous. After all, a people that do not realize they are losing their freedom will not fight for it. They will simply let it slip through their fingers.

theamericanconservative.com

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.
The Covid Vaccine Pass Slippery Slope

The Dutch must now show their papers to live a normal life; it will not stop with Covid.

By Eva VLAARDINGERBROEK

Beginning tomorrow, September 25, everyone in the Netherlands above the age of 13 will need a “Digital Covid Certificate” in order to be allowed into restaurants, bars, theaters, cinemas, and concert halls. Basically, the things that make life enjoyable for most people, will be limited to those who are in possession of a Q.R. code that indicates they are either vaccinated, tested, or have recovered from Covid-19 within the past 160 days.

What is interesting—and, in my view, incredibly telling—about the Dutch situation in particular is that a whopping 85 percent of the Dutch population is currently already fully vaccinated. More than a year and a half into the Covid-crisis, it is estimated that 95 percent of the population has antibodies, and currently only 200 people are in the ICU. Yet it is at this very moment that our government decides to introduce the most far-reaching and invasive measure the Dutch have seen to date. This is only the beginning.

Apparently, the last 15 percent of the Dutch population needs to be jabbed—whatever it takes. The ones who, for whatever reason, choose not to be vaccinated are either doomed to the social life of a hermit or have to travel, sometimes quite far, to a certified test location to get a Q-tip shoved up their noses every single day. That is, if they want to ‘’earn back’’ their right to partake in everyday activities. So even though people are not yet physically forced to be vaccinated, what the government is doing now is something that can only be called coercion.

Since there is no official or legal end-date tied to the enforcement of the Covid pass, there is no reason to believe that the Q.R.-society that we’re turning into won’t become more restrictive, let alone that it will disappear. Just take a look at other European countries, like France, Germany, and Italy. I went to Germany recently, where I experienced first-hand what it felt like to be denied entry to a restaurant for being unvaccinated; the negative test results I had on me didn’t suffice. This will undoubtedly become the case at some point in Holland as well.

Although highly inconvenient and time consuming, testing is currently still an option in the Netherlands and it is still “free” (i.e., paid for by taxpayers’ money). But not for long. The Dutch government has already announced that, sooner rather than later, people will have to start paying for their own tests, making it impossible for most people, especially children and people with low or no income, to do it on a regular basis. It is also a given that the Covid pass won’t remain only used for “non-essential social and cultural facilities.” The Dutch government is currently looking for legal pathways to enforce vaccine passes in the workplace and for health care facilities, as is already the case in countries like France and Italy. As a result of this, many Italians who still refuse to get vaccinated are forced to take unpaid leave; it is a true Kafkaesque nightmare.

Legally, the enforcement of these Covid passes and the far-reaching consequences that they already have clearly form a grave breach of constitutional rights and civil liberties such as bodily integrity, the non-discrimination principle, and freedom of movement. It is often argued that these breaches do not technically form a legal ‘’violation’’ of our constitutional rights, because the breach is justified in view of public health. In my opinion, however, this is simply wrong.

First of all, if this line of argumentation would carelessly be accepted, any constitutional right could be set aside when the definition of a “justification” such as public health is stretched out far enough. This is something most people, especially legal scholars, are usually very wary of. Due to fear, behavioral manipulation, and a general fatigue when it comes to the Covid measures (‘’I just want my freedom back’’), a substantial group of people seem to accept or even want vaccine passports. In other words, people accept this drastic measure for all the wrong reasons.

Let’s start with fear. The Dutch government insisted on classifying the much less dangerous Covid-19 as a so called ‘’A-label disease’’—the same category as Ebola—as this provided them with a legal basis for far-reaching measures like lockdowns, curfews, and now the Covid pass systems. No wonder the government has often been accused of instrumentalizing the virus to enlarge its own legal competences and powers. After all, to most people the virus is not life-threatening at all, especially not to young people, who make up a very large part of the 15 percent of the Dutch population that is not vaccinated. Although of course some people can get very ill from Covid, the mortality rates are nowhere near as high as in the case of a virus like Ebola, which has a mortality rate of 50 percent.

No one will deny the fact that fear forms a great basis for inducing people to abstain from rational thinking and to accept disproportional government control. The Covid pass will not in any way slow down transmission of the virus, since both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can carry and transmit Covid. Yet only unvaccinated people are obliged to take a test in order to gain entry to public facilities. The system doesn’t just make a legally unjustified distinction between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated—discriminating between citizens on the basis of their medical data, which for privacy reasons should not be asked for in the first place—but it is also ineffective.

Although our government is of course well aware of the fact that vaccinated people can still get Covid and pass it on, they still aim to ostracize unvaccinated people and mark them as the enemies of public health. Just like President Joe Biden told American citizens that the government has “been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” the Dutch minister of public health, Hugo de Jonge, stated that “the freedom of one group [those who do not wish to be vaccinated] cannot continue to threaten the freedom of another group [those who are vaccinated],” reminiscent of John Stuart Mill’s utilitarian harm principle.

This type of divisive rhetoric by the government is incredibly dangerous. Our minister puts forward a completely false dilemma: These two groups do not threaten each other’s freedom. It is actually the government and the government only, here, that poses a fundamental threat to both groups’ freedom. These losses of freedoms are imposed by policy. The vaccine does not protect anyone but the person who takes it. Nevertheless, plenty of people who aren’t afraid of the virus at all, or maybe have already had it and have natural immunity, have taken the vaccine because they fear the government and the social consequences of not being vaccinated more than they do the virus itself. Since when did we start to regard such behavior or choices as ‘’normal’’?

Frustratingly, only a very limited number of people in the West see what is really at stake here. Most fail to see that, once these Q.R. systems are enforced and people have become accustomed to them, these systems can be used for a variety of other purposes as well. It is most likely not a coincidence that a couple of weeks ago, suddenly, a nationwide poll was conducted to enquire how the Dutch viewed the possibility of a “personal carbon credit” system. Nevertheless, a large majority seems to believe—or want to believe—that all of this is for the common good, or that it is at least all temporary and won’t “get that far.”

I hope they are right, but I cannot help feeling that Tocqueville hit the nail on the head, as he often did, when he wrote that the type of despotism democratic people have to fear will in no way look like the despotism and tyranny our ancestors endured: “It would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without tormenting them,” he wrote in 1840. And, in a way, the fact that it happens more gradually is what makes it arguably even more dangerous. After all, a people that do not realize they are losing their freedom will not fight for it. They will simply let it slip through their fingers.

theamericanconservative.com