The #ReOpen rallies that occurred this past week are prime examples of the corruption present within the modern conservative American movement.
The #ReOpenPA rally intended to assemble Pennsylvanians at the Capitol in Harrisburg on April 20 to show Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf their displeasure toward his sweeping business closures. Although some present were well-intentioned and just wanted Wolf to safely open the state, the vast majority of attendees were angry and looking for someone to blame.
Conservative commentator and attorney Marc Scaringi addressed the crowd on the steps. I had a chance to interview him after the rally, during which he selectively referenced incomplete parts of news articles to insinuate Pennsylvanians had nothing to fear from the coronavirus. In our interview, he claimed “tens of millions” of Pennsylvanians already had an immunity to the coronavirus (simultaneously, he also claims the coronavirus is limited to certain geographic areas). He said this was because tons more were infected last fall; we just did not have access to testing yet.
After the rally, I pressed Scaringi for a source for his information. He provided articles from USAToday, Reuters and ABCNews. These articles are all filled with experts speculating that “maybe it is possible” the coronavirus spread around the world before it was identified by scientists. Some said it was possible but “extremely unlikely.”
However plausible the claim the information could be, it does not accurately line up with Scaringi’s claims. In fact, the articles specifically include quotes from doctors and other experts who say more information and research is needed before anyone reaches any conclusion.
It is patently irresponsible to disseminate false information to the public during a pandemic in which knowing the facts could be a matter of life or death. It is like encouraging someone to jump into a boiling pool of water by telling them, “It’s just a little warm.”
In addition to interviewing Scaringi, I had the opportunity to speak to Sen. Doug Mastriano of the 30th district. Mastriano claimed most of the protesters were wearing face masks and practicing social distancing. Scaringi seemed to agree with Mastriano and said, “Some are, some aren’t.”
Although I have to give credit to the hundreds of protesters who stayed in their cars and drove in circles the entire afternoon, we have to look at the crowd on the steps as well. Most individuals did not wear face masks. Most were also jammed together on the steps leading to the Capitol.
The message is pretty clear: Even public figures are embarrassed from the showing of their supporters. They are attempting to cover up and spin the narrative that the Capitol steps were filled with austere, passionate patriots. In reality, it was filled with a large fringe-showing of angry conservatives looking to blame somebody for the hardships we are all facing together.
I say this as a graduating senior whose job options significantly shrunk once the pandemic hit Pennsylvania in full force.
Local conservatives have a point: Many people who live paycheck-to-paycheck cannot sustain themselves through these business closures. Fair enough. But if you have to use emotional arguments, deception and bold-face lies to achieve your ends, either the ends are not justified, or you should step aside and let someone with more integrity champion the cause.
Do not besmirch the legitimate arguments presented by those protesters who showed up, wore face masks and tried to keep their distance.