An article in The Atlantic asked America to “Declare a Pandemic Amnesty, Let’s focus on the future, and fix the problems we still need to solve.” The problem noted was that we just did not know enough and there was so much uncertainty surrounding each issue during the pandemic. We didn’t know that social distancing outdoors was unnecessary because outdoor transmission was rare, we didn’t know that the risk to children contracting COVID (and subsequently shutting down schools) was a lessor risk to the children’s mental well-being and educational progress, and we didn’t know the risks of each of the vaccines. The author then went on to say we need an amnesty because “dwelling on the mistakes of history can lead to a repetitive doom loop…” I strongly disagree with this premise. The reason we study history and fixate on it is not to endlessly opine, it is to make sure that we are learning and evolving. History is something we should seek not to repeat. The heart of the issue surrounding COVID is it does not seem that we as a society learned the lessons that we should have. Mistakes were made, and instead of acknowledging the mistakes to learn from them, we are asked to ignore, forgive and forget. We listened to the experts, locked down livelihoods, sacrificed Liberty at the altar of “For the Common Good,” and what have we learned from it? To just give a blanket “It’s alright, you had good intentions so I will forgive you?” That just will not do. In order to get my and the American people’s forgiveness, you will have to give us some conditions just like we gave you “two weeks to flatten the curve.” You will get your amnesty if you agree to give up all the power that made that amnesty necessary: a collusion of the press with government, the power of the government to suppress liberty, and to disband the morality police.
Journalism and news organizations cannot look any worse as a profession than they do right now after seeing study after study invalidate their “scientific facts” regarding the pandemic. They spent the entirety of the pandemic preaching the experts opinions and relaying them as facts and suppressing those who have enquiring minds as misinformation or COVID deniers. Social media was even shown to suppress free speech at the request of the government, trampling on a bedrock institution of this country which could have prevented some of the post pandemic disasters we are seeing now. The founders wanted to ensure the freedom of the press not so they could suppress the citizenry, but rather as a check against the government. The press is supposed to be the watchdog, protecting the people from the usurpations of the government. The press is supposed to be the defender of freedom and protector against force. The founders worried about political demagogues manipulating the people, and instead of the press doing its job and questioning the demagogues, the press instead put them on a pedestal and gave them a podium. The press was supposed to be asking the questions that the people were asking during the pandemic. The press is supposed to question the experts, seeking what their financial incentives might be, and seeing what companies had the most to gain from government actions. Therefore, my condition of amnesty is this: for every article in which you defend the government’s actions, you must have a counterpoint article that questions them. Maybe start some of your articles on the premise that the government is not operating with society’s best interest at heart, no matter how vociferously they argue that they are. You will get amnesty when you start investigating government collusion and manipulation, not when you sit in the pockets of bureaucrats.
This second condition of amnesty is the easiest to request but the hardest to attain. The first aspect is for those in power to relinquish their power. Health agencies need to amend their codes, so they are no longer allowed the authority to shutter schools, churches and businesses. Local and state governments need to change their emergency powers, so they are not unbridled and unlimited. Federal officials need to be held accountable for their actions so they cannot promulgate the barrage of unscientific statements like we saw Fauci make. And if these agencies and governments cannot agree to relinquish their powers, then we the people need to make them. This condition is so difficult because it requires people in a position of power to relinquish their power. The founders created our government to specifically prevent the COVID travesties, but we no longer have a populace that understands nor desires this foundational aspect of the human condition. We need a revival in the core civic knowledge of our citizenry and an adoption of the other virtues that could have prevented this pandemic travesty: self-reliance, self-restraint, and self-assertion. This condition is as much an expectation for the citizenry to rise up and regain power as it is an expectation of the powerful agencies to realize their proper roles in a Constitutional Republic.
The morality police said we did not love our grandma unless we wore masks outside. We didn’t care about children or teachers if we did not shut down schools. We did not care about coworkers unless we got vaccinated. That we did not care about the common good unless we shut down “non-essential” jobs for months. They used our loved ones as cudgels for conformity, beating us over the head if we even peeped the words freedom to choose, liberty, or even why. We begged them to just see us for what we are: people who feel and love just as much as they do but those who have different opinions on how love is shown. We begged to be treated as individuals who are free to choose and instead families were ripped apart and decimated by haughtiness. This last condition is the hardest one to guarantee because it is within human nature to be divisive. This last condition requires more soul searching and a commitment to study history and get a self-education in civics. We must ask for people to check their morality and if it derives from bureaucracy or from the individual. It is never moral to use force to take away someone’s freedom even if that is what the “science” predicts. This last condition requires a rebirth of freedom in this country and a commitment to the somewhat scary principle of freedom of choice. The last condition is that we treat each other as equal humans and not rank others on a morality hierarchy.
Thomas Jefferson once wrote to James Madison, “the people are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” This was written upon the birth of a nation that stood upon the principles laid out in my conditions above. The people are to hold a press accountable, the people are to hold the elected and the government entities accountable, and the morality of freedom and individual flourishment is from within individuals not from within the government. During the pandemic, the people were taken out of the equation. And the equation will never be solved until we the people realize our rightful place.