Editorial: Barr’s comments on lockdowns were harmful, misguided

Staff Editorial

U.S. Attorney General William Barr was speaking at an event at Hillsdale College Wednesday, and made some offensive and harmful comments comparing COVID-19 lockdowns to slavery.

Barr was asked to explain the constitutionality of restricting church services during a pandemic, a question which caused him to provide a startlingly tone-deaf response.

“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest,” Barr said. “Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.”

Democratic South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn responded to Barr’s remark in an appearance on CNN Thursday, saying that it was the “most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful thing I’ve ever heard.”

We at The Daily Eastern News also find Barr’s remark to be ridiculous and tone-deaf. There have been many controversial or offensive comments from President Trump and his administration over the past four years, but this one by Barr is certainly one of the most offensive we have heard.

COVID-19 lockdowns are temporary and necessary to help stop the spread of the virus.

Slavery was a horrific human rights violation against Black people that was a part of American life for more than two centuries.

Frankly this should not need to be explained to anyone, but especially not to someone in as prestigious and important position as Barr.

The comment he made either signals a shocking level of ignorance on Barr’s part or a purposeful method to fire up Trump’s base prior to the election. It did result in a round of applause from those in attendance, after all. But either way it is inexcusable.

Comparing anything to slavery is ill-advised at the very least, and potentially offensive and harmful.