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What would you say was one of the worst periods of American history? Anything involving slavery is probably a good starting point, but it’s not like there’s any shortage of options. Our short history includes all kinds of shameful atrocities, from internment camps to atomic bombs to voter suppression.

Whatever the case, we can safely say there’s a wrong answer to the question, and it’s the one given by former Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann, last seen claiming the January 6 insurrection was the fault of “paid rabble-rousers” and the “Progressive Left.”

She was speaking to Marjorie Jackson of the Family Research Council after their “Pray Vote Stand” conference on Wednesday:

Quite literally, the government has turned to fascism. That’s what we’re in. I believe we’re in a coup right now, which is a illegal takeover… and I believe that’s what we’re in the middle of…

When you have government forcing private businesses to fire people because the people aren’t complying with what government says, then you’re denying people the right to earn a living. In the Book of Ecclesiastes, it says when you deny someone the right to their living, it’s the same as murder. And so our government is engaging in some of the most horrific actions we have ever seen. If you take all the bad actions of government throughout the entire history of the United States, and you put them all together… they pale in comparison to what we’re seeing now.This really is the absolute worst times.

No. Not even close. While the pandemic is historically awful — made worse by Donald Trump‘s initial downplaying of its seriousness — a Democratic president who calls for vaccine mandates in order to save lives is reason for praise, not “literally” fascism.

In Bachmann’s mother’s lifetime, women couldn’t attend most colleges or dream of holding the kind of political power that Michele Bachmann once held (and continues to have in a more limited capacity). That era was much worse than our current one when you might need to get your shots before stepping foot on campus.

Needless to say, no one has some inherent right to spread a deadly plague. And if Bachmann is so upset about mandates, then she should have encouraged people to wear masks or remain quarantined last year. Conservatives, by and large, didn’t do that. Which is why we’re in our current situation.

On a side note, does anyone have any clue which verse in Ecclesiastes she’s talking about?

***Update (from Hemant)***: According to our colleague James McGrath, Bachmann may have been referring to a passage from the Book of Sirach — a Jewish collection of ethical teachings — also known as the Book of Ecclesiasticus. That book includes the line, “To take away a neighbor’s living is to commit murder.”

(via Right Wing Watch)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.