No Amnesty for COVID Tyrants

With the coronavirus fading into the rearview mirror, the extent to which the pandemic was mismanaged by the powers-that-be remains impossible to ignore. The establishment would love nothing more than for you to forgive and forget. But simply moving on and pretending that nothing happened would be foolish. Let there be no amnesty for those who subjected us to years of biomedical tyranny.

A recent article in The Atlantic by Brown University economist Emily Oster offers us a fascinating look into the post-COVID mindset of many in the expert class. Titled “Let’s Declare a Pandemic Amnesty,” Oster’s piece serves as the closest to a mea culpa we are likely to receive from those responsible for the disastrous policies that wrecked America.

Oster begins her article by detailing the preventative measures her family employed while hiking in April 2020. “We had a family hand signal, which the person in the front would use if someone was approaching on the trail and we needed to put on our masks.” She also relates an instance in which her 4-year-old son shouted, “SOCIAL DISTANCING!” when another child got too close.

“The precautions were totally misguided,” writes Oster. “In April 2020, no one got the coronavirus from passing someone else hiking … But the thing is: We didn’t know.”

What a meager concession. In the early stages of the pandemic, people on both sides of the aisle were understandably concerned. After all, conservatives supported Trump’s China travel ban while Biden railed against “xenophobia” and Nancy Pelosi cavorted around Chinatown. But eventually it became clear that the regime’s response to the pandemic was grossly unwarranted.

Oster offers other concessions, as well, but they are equally meager. She writes that the medical establishment’s early preference for Johnson & Johnson vaccines “wasn’t nefarious” and admits that “schools in the U.S. were closed for too long.”

Glaringly absent from her article is any reference to the nightmarish lockdowns, the mask and vaccine mandates, and the merciless crackdowns on dissent during the COVID years. These are the establishment’s primary transgressions, and she knows it. But she is so intent to have us move on that she refuses to risk even reminding her readers of those offenses.

Oster’s article contains a fair amount of equivocation as well. The amnesty she seeks goes both ways. This implies blame on behalf of those of us who dared question the experts. The Ivy League economist appears incapable of addressing the subject without condemning “misinformation.” She writes, “Obviously some people intended to mislead and made wildly irresponsible claims … Misinformation was, and remains, a huge problem.”

Obviously, misinformation, by its very nature, is a problem. But when I think of misleading and wildly irresponsible claims, it isn’t lockdown skeptics who come to mind—it’s the expert class. These officials are the ones who pushed for laws preventing the unvaccinated from having jobs or entering many businesses—all in the name of “stopping the spread.” However, it would later come out that the vaccine actually failed to prevent transmission, rendering the whole strong-arm vax-campaign unnecessary.

A general attitude of suspicion regarding the establishment’s COVID policies proved to be the correct one. If you generally distrusted what officials told you—about masks, the vaccine, social distancing—you wound up being more correct than someone who listened uncritically to the so-called experts. This infuriates those experts to no end, for their legitimacy is derived from being seen as wise and all-knowing. Their response to the pandemic shattered that illusion in the eyes of millions.

Aware of this, Oster writes that “the people who got it right, for whatever reason, may want to gloat.” In her view, this gloating “continues to gobble up a lot of social energy and to drive the culture wars.” Given the facts, it is unsurprising that Oster—who as recently as December 2021 was penning articles in support of vaccine and mask mandates—would want us to move on from COVID. But for a few key reasons, it is important that we do not.

The first, and most obvious, is that the mismanagement of the pandemic constitutes a colossal blow to the regime’s credibility. Scientists, bureaucrats, politicians, and journalists got it wrong—period. How are we to trust them on anything else since they botched COVID this badly?

The second reason we shouldn’t forgive or forget is that to do so would increase the risk of history repeating itself. All regimes are power-hungry; ours is no exception. It would be a grievous error to think that our overlords wouldn’t jump at another opportunity—medical or otherwise—to revoke our liberties. We must therefore remain wary.

Third, COVID offers us a painful yet important lesson in the dynamics of tyranny. When a regime exercises power, one is able to discern the mechanisms by which it maintains control. We should seek to neutralize such means of control in whatever legal ways we can.

Finally, we owe it to those who were harmed by the lockdowns and mandates to not casually forget their experiences. The sheer scope of unnecessary human suffering during the COVID years is inestimable. Think of the elderly who died after New York Governor Cuomo moved COVID patients into nursing homes; think of the workers who lost jobs after refusing to receive the vaccine; think of the children forced to wear masks every day at school; think of the business owners who saw their livelihoods destroyed. To simply forgive those who perpetrated these grave injustices, without holding them accountable, would do a disservice to all those who suffered. 

Emily Oster’s ridiculous article concludes with a warning against “dwelling on the mistakes of history.” Yet this is precisely what we must do. We must dwell on these heinous acts, or we will never ensure that those responsible are lawfully brought to justice for their crimes.

“The pandemic is over,” President Biden said in a televised interview last month. Understandably, the regime is shifting attention away from its disastrous handling of the affair. All the more reason for us to stay focused on it, to keep exposing it to the light of hindsight. The welfare of everyone going forward depends on it.

(Correction: This story misspelled “Oster” as “Osten” several times when initially published on November 4, 2022)

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