COVID-19 Jeopardizes Freedom Around the World

COVID-19 Jeopardizes Freedom Around the World

( – America continues to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic along with the rest of the world. Pockets of fresh cases continue rising in some parts of the nation, and the flu and cold season is around the corner. Inflation is on the rise, and getting enough people to fill current job vacancies challenges some industries. Of additional concern is the rise of autocratic governance and extremism around the globe.

On July 15, the Associated Press published a concerning article discussing the rise of authoritarianism in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The article begins with a brief recap of some of the things that happened worldwide while people were distracted by the pandemic. For instance, Chinese officials shuttered Hong Kong’s remaining pro-democracy periodical. Brazil’s government openly embraced dictatorship — nothing new to that part of the world.

Experts Weigh in on the Situation

Cambodian human rights attorney Theary Seng recently noted that the COVID-19 pandemic “is a dictator’s dream opportunity.” While the world is devoting its time and concern to battling the coronavirus and trying to keep its economies functioning, autocrats are ceaselessly working behind the scenes consolidating their power bases. For instance, Cambodia has expanded its use of taking political prisoners without offering any semblance of due process of law to solidify its otherwise precarious control.

London School of Economics researcher and author Luke Cooper agreed. According to him, dictators and aspiring tyrants are working overtime to “manage society” while their nation’s other resources focus on pouring health and social resources into combating COVID.

Continuing, Cooper noted that “authoritarian politics” spread globally over the last 15 years. Democracies are fragile and frequently lack the vision to cope with emerging 21st-century problems. On the other hand, dictatorships tend to follow a time-tested pattern. Regression knows no season, isn’t locked in an era the same way democratic institutions work.

Rana Mitter, a historian and Oxford University’s China Center director, noted that the current global pandemic showed China’s Communist regime it no longer had anything left to learn from Western democracies. As a result, it has plowed forward at a break-neck pace to try to wrestle control of global economic markets while cracking down on internal dissent and the expansion of democratic thought in outlying territories like Hong Kong.

Of additional concern, is the concentration of greater power in long-running regimes. The near-collapse of law and order in Cuba is but one current example of this problem in action.

The time to push back against the collapse of freedom and liberty is now. It’s time for the Biden administration to take another look at former President Donald Trump’s “America first” policies to keep dissent from creeping any further inside the US from other countries as they fade into dictatorships.

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