The idea that an American is a citizen of a country, not just a state, and at home in any part of the country, is something we take for granted. The Constitution may not have meant certain kinds of centralization to be a feature of life, but anyone from Georgia or New York was expected to feel comfortable traveling to and doing business in their respective states.
The Wuhan Virus is undermining that in the United States the way that it is in Europe.
There’s no especially easy answer with Rhode Island, Florida, and North Carolina treating out of staters as invaders and health threats. And we’re now seeing locals taking the law into their own hands against summer people.
It’s ugly, unfortunate, and inevitable.
People are running on fear. And we’re still not entirely certain how much of the threat is justified. But we failed to stop the invasion at the border, and we now have to live with the inevitable fragmentation, the internal checkpoints and quarantines. All the stuff we didn’t do to stop foreign invaders is now causing Americans to turn on each other.
There’s a tragic moral machinery at work here. But now is perhaps neither the time nor the place. The practical side of things is that people can’t really be prevented from trying to protect their homes and their loved ones. What we can do is prevent overreactions. When government can’t credibly assure people of their safety, they’ll take matters into their own hands. The state checkpoints are a cleaner answer.
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