The civil rights movement led to the end of legalized racial segregation and the beginning of the ability of African Americans to be free and equal citizens in the United States of America. But similar oppressive government injustice is happening in New York City today.
About a third of all citizens of New York City, among them the majority of African Americans, have not been vaccinated. De Blasio’s mandate to show proof of vaccination and IDs at NYC restaurants, bars, museums, gyms, theaters, concerts, and other indoor settings discriminates against millions of unvaccinated New Yorkers who will be prevented from engaging in normal everyday activities, and even students who are prevented from playing high school sports. Forced vaccination mandates will prevent many New Yorkers from keeping their jobs. Unvaccinated New Yorkers will be legally prohibited from traveling by subway, bus, or plane. But it also normalizes the outrageous mandate that people are required to show their private health papers and personal identification.
Mandated vaccines for all is the civil rights issue of our time. Government overreach has now created loss of privacy of our personal health information and has demonstrated that we can be fined and even jailed for not complying with their unconstitutional and illegal “laws.” But we know that these are not laws; they are government proclamations from the mayor and public officials.
So, what does civil disobedience and a civil rights movement look like in 2021? In the 1960s, the ACLU defended the civil rights and constitutional rights of all citizens. But they’ve gone silent today. Where do we go from here?
It will be up to individuals, community action groups, religious organizations, parents, and political clubs to defend and speak out in an organized and non-violent manner for the protection of our rights for which we have fought as a country for over 250 years. These government mandates are a slippery slope to further erode the rights and privileges of the individual.
The civil rights movement of the 1960s was successful in securing legislative protections for the individual rights of Blacks and all Americans. Sit-ins were effective methods of non-violent civil disobedience. African American students and protesters devised a simple plan to occupy seats at local segregated lunch counters inside department stores and requested to be served, and would not leave after being denied service. They stayed until the store closed or the police arrested them. These brave souls spawned a national movement that attracted widespread media attention, and was ultimately successful in overturning segregation policies and eliminating discrimination.
Are unvaccinated New Yorkers suffering similar injustices as their forebears of the civil rights era? While people are aware of the dangers of COVID, we have to balance that danger with not giving up our rights and freedoms that are endowed to us by our U. S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
Regardless of political affiliations and other divisions, let us stand together in solidarity for all our rights under which we are all united. Apathy and indifference are the enemies of civilized society. Let us stand as one in this present struggle and put our trust back where it belongs: in ourselves, in G-d, and in our local communities - not in government.
By Phil Orenstein
Phil Orenstein is the president of the Queens Village Republican Club. Established in 1875, it is America’s oldest Republican Club. Visit www.QVGOP.org.