Through Tuesday, Minnesota has 1,809 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and the virus is blamed for 87 deaths. As states go, those numbers are low, and a sign the stay-at-home order imposed by Gov. Tim Walz from mid-March through early May is working.
But are we really flattening the curve, as you'll hear from scientists and public health experts? Or are we just stepping on the American flag, as you'll hear from... well, several people with Facebook accounts.
Under an event page titled "Liberate Minnesota," conservatives are organizing a rally outside the governor's mansion to "demand Governor Walz and our state legislators end this lock down!" The protest, scheduled for noon on Friday, mirrors similar public demonstrations held in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Michigan.
Like Minnesota, those states happen to have Democratic governors, though the Liberate Minnesota page has a more pointed label for Walz, a former social studies teacher and football coach who served 24 years in the U.S. National Guard:
"The fact is, our freedoms and economy are under full blown attack by a radical anti-American Governor -- and we must act quickly if we are going to save them!"
The rally page asserts Walz has not ordered a stay-home order (among others) to "save lives," but is instead attempting to "launch a full blown attack on the citizens of Minnesota... to strip away and annihilate the freedoms that we enjoy!"
Organizers would rather take cues from Donald Trump, who, they write, "has been very clear that we must get America back to work very quickly or the 'cure' to this terrible disease may be the worse option!" (Warning: Do not read the Liberate Minnesota page if you have a preexisting condition triggered by exclamation points.)
Among the event hosts are Don Huizenga, a former candidate for the Minnesota Senate from Anoka; Michele Even, an activist who is afraid of both Muslims and social services; and Marni Hockenberg.
As the founder of Hockenberg Search, an "executive career transition" firm, Marni is described on the company website as a "sought after keynote speaker, facilitator, panel moderator, panelist and expert commentator." And folks, you're about to find out why.
Sociopolitically, Hockenberg was most recently a central figure in the fight over whether St. Louis Park should say the Pledge of Allegiance before conducting official city business.
Turns out Hockenberg (who in fact lives in Roseville) always has her sensors up for the erosion of fundamental freedom. First a suburb isn't yelling "under God!" before approving the zoning variance on an apartment complex, and the next thing you know, the government's trying to keep you from dying in a pandemic!
On her YouTube channel, where Hockenberg broadcasts almost daily to a network of 17,000-plus followers, she says attendees of Friday's rally would be "literally rising up," an apparent reference to Marni's intentions to vacate her home office computer chair.
Hockenberg's homemade videos are both dimly lit and clearly read right off some sort of document she has open on her screen. (Watch her eyes, though don't look directly into them unless you're not afraid to learn exactly how much God loves the S&P 500.)
She predicts the rally could draw "anywhere between 500 to 1,000 people," intoning the latter number with astonishment, as if she's only just learning about it. Marni welcomes people to join this "peaceful way for our fellow American citizens exercise our constitutional right to assembly and free speech."
She continues, in a tone that sounds almost exactly like a third-grade teacher warning students before a field trip:
Let's talk for a minute about personal responsibility. Use it. You are responsible for yourself, your health, your safety, your actions, your family, your property, and the consequences of your actions and anything, literally, that is in your own personal control. We are not responsible for anything that might happen to you or the people you are with. Only you are responsible for your current health situation, or future health, if you make the personal decision to attend. Compromised people need not attend. Friends, police yourself, and not others.
And there's their reasoning in a nutshell. You're responsible for you and your family, but not responsible for even the person standing next to you and your family, breathing the same air, expressing your fear of public health experts and your love of America in the same dangerous and deeply stupid way.