A CNN panel was stunned on CNN Tonight With Don Lemon Wednesday after Lemon read to them remarks Attorney General William Barr made earlier while speaking at Hillsdale College in Michigan. Barr compared lockdowns due to the ongoing coronavirus to slavery, though he admitted they’re not as bad.
“Putting a national lockdown, stay-at-home orders, is like house arrest. You know, other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” Barr said, garnering applause from the audience.
After reading Barr’s statement, Lemon went to Dana Bash for comment, who, at first, couldn’t even get out any words.
“I—I’m kind of speechless,” Bash said after a moment of shock. “I really am.”
Bash then went on to point out the very large hole in Barr’s comparison.
“When people were enslaved, when human beings were enslaved in this country, they were owned by other people,” Bash said. “I mean, civil rights was, like, the notion of having civil rights was a pipe dream. They just had to be free, and then they could think about civil rights.”
White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins countered Barr’s argument with the fact that, unlike slavery, Americans weren’t forced to do anything during the lockdowns, just urged to stay at home. People were still able to leave their homes for essential tasks.
“They’re comparing this, in a way, to slavery, which he says was, quote, ‘A different kind of restraint.’ Yes, it was very much a different kind of restraint,” Collins said. “And so, you know, to see how they responded to this, and as Sanjay was saying, no one was forced to stay in their homes in the United States. Those were recommendations made.”
“I just have a hard time, Don, I guess to your point, of conflating a dedicated scientific evidence-based public health response to some sort of civil rights intrusion,” Gupta said. “It takes us in the exact wrong direction.”
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