Others, particularly in our academic establishment, endorse censorship as superior to Western freedoms. Writing in The Atlantic, two law professors suggested that in the “debate over freedom or control,” China “was largely correct and the U.S. was wrong.” Still others have suggested, due to Trump’s often bumbling or ill-informed remarks, that networks not cover presidential press conferences. This same spirit is being embraced by some of the internet’s moguls — Twitter, Facebook, Google and YouTube — to monitor and censor comments, even those of medical professionals, that are not considered congruent with the accepted iteration of “science.”

Although these efforts generally are aimed at the right, some liberals as well as many conservatives are frightened by the new drive for censorship. The notion of “brainwashing” the public already has been raised by climate-crusaders like former California governor Jerry Brown. Some environmentalists even see the nation’s lockdown as a “test run” for the kind of highly managed, centrally controlled society they consider necessary to preserve the planet’s health.

We are entering a very dangerous time. The digital oligarchs and their allies continue to expand their sway over the struggling remnants of the analog economy. The pandemic offers them an unprecedented opportunity, as in China, to monitor citizens to an extent never before possible. Google and Apple already are working on a venture to track social distancing and contact tracing, and both separately are interested in collecting our medical records.