Brown University professor Emily Oster has created quite a stir with her recent article asking for a “pandemic amnesty.” In it, she calls for “both sides” in the COVID debate to forgive each other so we can focus on solving current problems. If Oster wanted exposure, she certainly got it, with commentators far and wide responding to her plea. If she wanted to heal wounds and close chasms, however, she failed miserably. Many have told her to go pound sand.
Genuine calls for forgiveness are noble, but, Professor Oster, you (and your critics) miss a significant point here: Forgiveness does not obviate punishment. Were it otherwise, following Jesus’s “70×7” prescription would mean emptying the prisons and hurting our beloved children by never holding them accountable for misbehavior.
So I’ll do my best to forgive, Professor Oster, but forgetting? No! I speak for many in saying that your plea is rejected — and offensive. And for there to be even the beginning of a rapprochement, there are two requirements (I’ll speak in this piece of “two sides” even though, of course, there’s much variation within each):
- You must hand over your “leaders” for judgment and justice.
- You must issue a genuine mea culpa and demonstrate that you’ve learned from your mistakes.
This matters immensely. Many on my side are angry, but I’ll nonetheless do what I and others did during the pandemic — not what you did, professor. I’ll react based on reason and not emotion and say that I’m not seeking retribution, viscerally pleasurable though it may be. And reason’s application informs that, as Herbert Spencer put it, “The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools.” Thus must the foolish and often fiendish pandemic puppeteers be in the dock — and thus must their erstwhile puppets demonstrate that they’ve learned from the past.
Unfortunately, though, professor, you appear to have learned virtually nothing. You speak as if the COVID battles were some kind of mutual misunderstanding that degenerated into an ugly rift. This is yet another slap in the face. There was nothing mutual about it, not in terms of misunderstandings or malevolence or power or persecution.
Though many of us counseled against COVIDian madness, my side was content to let you and your fellow travelers wear a mask, or three masks; take a genetic-therapy agent (GTA) shot, or five; social distance by six feet, or 60; shut down your businesses and lock yourselves indoors for one month, or six; and generally behave like mysophobic Chicken Littles. But that wasn’t good enough.
Not only did you impose your mask empire and distancing fancies on us, but you shut down our businesses as part of a COVID regulation regime; destroyed livelihoods; impoverished people; caused untold numbers of lockdown-induced, secondary-effect deaths; and tried coercing us into taking the GTAs under pain of career destruction, firing tens of thousands of Americans who resisted your will. Why, CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, cheered on by millions of you and speaking for many more, actually said that people such as me, GTA realists, should be prohibited from participating in society and banished to our homes. You also censored us when we dared explain our dissent, said we were killing people and impugned our character and patriotism.
By the way, Wen more recently renounced much COVIDian theology and wrote an article about how she no longer believes in masking children because her young son suffered mask-induced developmental problems. Yet as with you, professor, she issues no apology for her ill-informed, life-rending prescriptions.
Speaking of which, Professor Oster, you wrote of our correct prescriptions that in “the face of so much uncertainty, getting something right had a hefty element of luck. And, similarly, getting something wrong wasn’t a moral failing.” “We didn’t know,” you protested. Well, speak for yourself, professor.
Of course, some did oppose COVID regulations based purely on a desire for liberty or relied on instinct. Yet a twist on a famous saying comes to mind here: The more I research, the “luckier” I get.
Was it luck, professor, when I cited Dr. Knut Wittkowski — former longtime head of the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at the Rockefeller University in New York City — as warning in an April 1st and 2nd, 2020 interview that lockdowns were counterproductive? He also provided sage but unheeded prescriptions for managing the disease.
Was it luck, professor, when I cited experts as saying in February 2020 that the vast majority of us will contract the coronavirus, that most cases are mild and that “vaccines” wouldn’t save us? This information, by the by, was printed in the liberal Atlantic, the very magazine that published your piece! Did you miss it?
Was it luck, professor, when I cited early data out of Italy showing that the COVID mortality victims were aged 79.5 on average and more than 99 percent had comorbidities, again indicating that it wasn’t a disease imperiling the majority? Was it luck when I, presenting research, warned in 2020-’21 of masks’ lack of efficacy and the perils they pose, especially to the young? I could mention additional data, studies and experts I and others drew upon, but the point is this:
You could have known, professor. But you didn’t show due diligence. You had your head buried in establishment media and wouldn’t pay any mind to those who dared contradict it. Hey, only Ivy League input need apply, right, professor?
This matters because the problem isn’t that you fell victim to COVID propaganda; it’s that you’re the kind of person who could fall victim to COVID propaganda. And unless this changes — unless you learn from past mistakes — you’ll just make similar ones again during a future crisis. In fact, we see the same phenomena even now with climate change.
You also say, professor, that we should be willing to move on because most of those adopting bad policy had good intentions. Yet even if this were true, it’s irrelevant. A doctor can have the absolute best intentions but still be sued into oblivion for malpractice.
What of your claim, however? Does it reflect good intentions
- when politicians, such as Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.), imposed onerous COVID restrictions on us but then arrogantly violated those rules themselves?
- when officials said we knew little about a “novel” virus but then made continual cocksure pronouncements and, colluding with Big Tech, censored anyone contradicting them (including the aforementioned Dr. Wittkowski)?
- when an effort was launched to turn COVID “heretics” into second-class citizens?
- when even today some schools have GTA mandates for young people, despite the well-known health risks?
- when Dr. Anthony Fauci and other officials continually lied to America while accusing dissenters of peddling “misinformation”?
Of course, it’s true that man is complex and people rationalize — aka, lie to themselves — perhaps more than they lie to others. But if the above is the result of good intentions, professor, who needs bad ones?
The point, however, is that these COVIDian “leaders,” such as Fauci and Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.), must be held to account and not survive, in power, to tyrannize another day. Yet our pseudo-elites instead continue to fail upwards, with your support, professor. But, then, you enjoy the same benefits, don’t you? Why, you say you’re now actually co-teaching a college class on COVID. Talk about an idiocracy!
In conclusion, Professor Oster, you opened your article mentioning that in “April 2020, with nothing else to do, my family took an enormous number of hikes.” This brings us to my response to your amnesty proposal: You can go take another one.
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.