“The official numbers are wrong,” explained our host, Vasilis, in his cheerful, nonchalant Greek manner.
“The government reported forty new cases last week… but we know the reality is more like five hundred. We know because we have friends who are nurses and doctors, people who work in the clinics and the hospital and see the reality first hand.”
We have no reason to doubt Vasilis’s assessment of the situation. Of course governments lie. It’s a critical component of their genetic makeup. Besides, the government here has a lot at stake. Tourism accounts for roughly one in ten jobs in Greece, or nearly 400,000 Hellenes.
If word got out that COVID-19 numbers were spiking, the planes and ferries, which yearly taxi millions of wide-eyed visitors from all over the world, might slow… or stop altogether.
And yet – somehow, someway – life goes on in Greece… as it has for hundreds of thousands of years, more or less. Families gather… friends convene… enemies squabble and bicker and, realizing it was hardly worth the trouble, eventually make amends.
And at the end of every day, the sun sets in the west, over the wine-dark Aegean, same as it did under the reign of Pericles… during the days of Diogenes… the age of Aristotle…
Out here on the islands, the dramatic seascapes draw their well-deserved crowds. Down on the golden yellow sand we hear French… German… Russian and Spanish, intermingled with the local tongue. Occasionally we hear English too, in both UK and American accents.
Conspicuously absent is the Australian twang… the Antipodean swagger… that colorful, unmistakable brand of Aussie larrikinism.
As you may have heard, the Land Down Under has of late become a land #LockedDownUnder. Reports from the former and present penal colony border on the absurd.
In the state of Victoria, Dictator-in-Chief Dan Andrews has warned citizens against leaving home to watch the sunset. Seriously.
“I’m sure it was a lovely sunset,” the ruddy-jowled tyrant grimaced at a recent press conference, referring to a rebel bunch of non-compliant peasants who dared escape house arrest to take in the cosmic miracle, “but it’s not in the spirit… it’s not in the letter of the law!”
Alas, Dan “No Sunset For You!” Andrews does NOT swim in a sneered-at, hyperventilating minority, mocked and derided by proud, upstanding individuals of even average moral fortitude. In a stunning display of mass, political Stockholm Syndrome, polls show a majority of Victorians remain loyal to their captor.
Up in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, a pair of hysterical doom mongers appear on television daily to peddle their Big Brother, anti-freedom messages, inciting panic and spontaneous spinal disintegration among their petrified constituents.
Witness NSW’s state premier, Gladys “The Wailing Banshee” Berejicklian, stamping on Sydneysiders’ necks with her statist jackboot: “You could be perfectly healthy in the morning and, by evening, be fighting for your life on a ventilator […] A visit to a friend or family member might well be a death sentence […] Do not go outside. Do not leave your home.”
And here is the state’s unelected chief “health” officer, the Charibdys-mouthed Dr. Kerry Chant, putting the Fear of the Gods into her cowering countrymen. [Full Clip]
“We need to limit our movements. We need to consider that everyone could carry the virus… So whilst it is in human nature to engage in conversation with others, to be friendly, unfortunately this is not the time to do that. So even if you run into your neighbor at the local grocery store […] don’t start up a conversation. Now is the time for minimizing your interactions with others…”
Similar authoritarian sentiments are echoed across the sunburned land. Western Australia premier, Mark McGowan, recently characterized his fellow countrymen as an “extreme risk.” Australia’s longest state border is now tighter than it was at the beginning of the pandemic.
The remote Northern Territory – an area roughly the size of France, Spain and Italy… combined – locked down after registering one single case. A man from Alice Springs (a distant outback post which at the time had yet to register a single case of the dreaded ‘vid) was accosted by the tin badge brigade for drinking a coffee… outside… alone… without a face mask. (How, exactly, does one drink a coffee with one?) After being stalked for a block by the boyz in blue, who apparently had nothing better to do that day, he was tackled to the ground, cuffed, thrown in the back of a police van and, after “processing” at the local precinct, issued a $5,000, on-the-spot fine.
Queensland’s Annastacia Palaszczuk, meanwhile, put the kibosh on an influx of desperate out-of-state refugees, referring to their relocation to “her state” as Queensland being “loved to death.” Needless to say, there’s no allowance for “love in the time of COVID.” Interstate arrivals have been banned for the next fortnight, a date likely to be extended, given the trajectory of other states’ case numbers and the prevailing paranoia permeating the populace.
Not to be out-isolated, the island of Tasmania’s Dear Leader, Peter Gutwein, has enacted some truly medieval measures of his own. A headline from the state’s Mercury newspaper reads, ominously: “We’ve got a moat, and we’re not afraid to use it!”
Talk about “mate against mate, state against state,” this fearful, fortress-like nativism leaves the yearly State of Origin football clash for dust!
But… But… BUT! we hear you say…
Wasn’t Australia “leading the world” in the fight against COVID-19? Didn’t their (admittedly simplistic) “go hard; go early” mantra stave off the virus for the past year, potentially saving thousands (why not millions?) of lives as the rest of the world perished in a fiery inferno?
In a word: no.
As usual, the papers got the story horse-about-cart. While the credulous statist sycophants in the MSM were slobbering over Australia’s draconian curtailments of human rights throughout most of 2020, the once-proud nation was busily surrendering liberties, riding roughshod over the rule of law, trashing individual rights and trampling virtually any freedom worthy of the name.
Like the dupe at a poker table, who tips her hand early and eagerly, Australia squandered her geographical dumb luck and, instead of conducting an open, honest, adult conversation about how to best maintain a balance of civil liberties and reasonable, common-sense approaches to “living with the virus,” instead forfeited all her hard-won liberties pursuing a non-starter “zero-COVID” fantasy, virtually ensuring exactly the kind of Huxleyan dystopic nightmare currently visited upon the helplessly disarmed population.
So while the rest of the world deals with the reality of the virus head on… making allowances for attending weddings, funerals, graduations and other events of common and traditional importance… Australia frets in the dark, wondering when and where the next sneeze might come from and which iron-fisted politician might impose a “snap” lockdown, shuttering businesses, severing livelihoods and making honest, hard-working individuals wards of an increasingly totalitarian police state.
As for your Australia-born editor, he remains hopeful his birth nation’s world class sense of F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out) might draw able-minded individuals out of their debilitating, bed-wetting malaise.
And so to my dear, brow-beaten countrymen I say: As long as you allow non-essential politicians to dictate the terms of your very, truly essential life, the rest of the world will continue to wonder…
“Australia, where the bloody hell are ya?”
Reprinted from the author’s substack