I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!
Ours was great. Our youngest was home from college, and my brothers-in-law came over, and my wife made an amazing meal. (Of all the husbands in all the land, I have definitely done the best job of marrying up.)
My oldest daughter – you may remember her from her beautiful wedding this last summer, and her saving her first life as a pediatric nurse last year — was saving lives in Denver, and so could not make it home. But her pre-Thanksgiving Facebook post tells you everything you need to know about her.
In her “Friendsgiving” pic, she and her new husband are in their living room with several dozen friends that they’ve made in the 3 months they’ve been in Colorado. (By contrast, I’m 116 and have lived in the same town for 36 years, and could assemble maybe 8 good friends for a photo-op, assuming they were willing to pose with me while I was wearing my “Let’s Go, Brandon” t-shirt.)
On Thanksgiving night, after our guests had gone home, I experienced a moment that made me self-consciously grateful. I was in our living room on the recliner, while my wife and our youngest were on the couch. The big screen over the fireplace was playing the Vikings-Patriots game with the sound off, and our tree was up in the corner, covered with ornaments gathered over 33 years of marriage.
Cassie the Wonder Dog was curled up on the floor beside my chair, and the three cats were dozing around the room. All of us have gotten on a language kick, and were playing around with Duo Lingo on our phones, which was oddly fun. I was doing my German (Mein hund ist schon und klug, thanks for asking), while the wife was working on Norwegian, and the daughter on Japanese.
As I listened to my family mumbling in comically difficult languages, in a house filled with people who love each other, I thought about lucky I am, and how lucky we all are to be living now, and in this great country. With all of its flaws, and ours, there is still so much sweetness in life, and meaningful work to be done. And Christmas is coming!
Speaking of things to be grateful for, Dr. Fauci made his farewell appearance at the White House last week, and it was an encouraging reminder of how nice it will be to not have to listen to him anymore.
Our mendacious kewpie doll of a WH spokeswoman – she’s into the curvy folks with the XX chromosomes, so your criticisms are invalid – was at her condescending best. She scolded journalists for trying to ask relevant questions, whining that they weren’t in charge, and that they were being rude to “our guest.”
By which she meant our highly paid employee, Dr. Science, Esq.
So if you were wondering whether the virus came from gain of function research in a Chicom lab, or whether we can finally admit that masks don’t work, or whether the potential downsides of injecting healthy people and children might outweigh the benefits, you got your answers.
And those answers were, “Shut up,” and, “How dare you?” and “Security!”
Watching that press conference brought me back to a much-discussed article from last month in the Atlantic magazine, in which lefty author Emily Oster famously called for “a pandemic amnesty.” Her thesis was that if we are to get along in the future, we have to get past all of the animosity that arose because of the vaccine, mask and mandatory lock-down wars. Her proposal is that we all extend some grace and forgiveness to each other, and move on.
Her appeal for reconciliation was at least momentarily tempting to me, and for several reasons. Morally speaking, my faith is big on grace and forgiveness. And politically and pragmatically speaking, she’s right about the need to reconcile; our nation has become so polarized, and I don’t see how our current state of growing animosity and division can end well.
I thought of the example of Lincoln, who after the bloodiest war in our history called for a binding of our wounds, and for moving on “with malice toward none, and charity toward all.” If he could call for accepting the former confederates back into the union after all that carnage, we should be able to reconcile with those on the other side of the covid wars.
But I can’t agree with her proposal as it stands, for several more reasons.
First, true reconciliation requires real admission of error. (Uncle Jesus calls that confession and repentance, but there are alternative secular/psychological terms for it, if you prefer.) And it doesn’t seem that very many of those on the leftist/alarmist side are willing to make that crucial first step.
To her credit, Oster comes closer than most of her allies. She admits now that early on she and her family over-reacted, and were wrong – and that’s not something that I’ve seen often on the left, even at this late date.
But her article has been so widely criticized because she also quickly excuses herself by claiming that we just didn’t know any better at the time. She suggests there was a lot of intentional misinformation being spread, and that some people were right, but “for the wrong reasons.” She goes so far as to say that getting some things right had “a hefty element of luck,” and that “getting something wrong wasn’t a moral failing.”
She’s being way too kind to her side, in a way that suggests continual – and I think intentional – moral blindness.
The best way to evaluate our virus response is to distinguish between behavior early on – say from March to May of 2020 – compared to everything that came after. During those first several months, we knew so little that it was reasonable to take all sorts of precautions, and we should all extend grace to each other for actions taken then.
But by the summer of 2020, a flood of data was coming in that contradicted the establishment left’s narrative. A few examples: Florida’s Disneyworld opened in June, and contrary to the left’s alarmist predictions, bodies didn’t stack up like cordwood in Orlando. By mid-summer we knew that the flu was dozens of times more deadly than the virus for young and healthy people.
In August, the Association of American Pediatricians – no conservative group! – released a strong statement saying that healthy kids K-12 should be back in school, since their psych/educational losses far outweighed the tiny risk from the virus.
In October some of the best epidemiologists in the world released the Great Barrington Declaration, giving scientific weight to the ideas that masks don’t work, and the smart path was to allow/persuade the compromised to isolate, but let the rest of society calculate their own risks and get back to normal.
By that time, people on our side weren’t “right for the wrong reasons,” and we weren’t “deniers,” and there was no “hefty element of luck” in our being proven right. We were following the science, and being gaslit and punished and fired and shamed about it.
And no, Ms. Oster, at that point – and ever since – you can NOT say that “getting something wrong wasn’t a moral failing.” Because for the last two years, the left writ large has politicized the disease, and used it to achieve its unpopular and coercive political agenda to greatly increase the government’s power, and to get their preferred candidate elected president.
That’s a moral failing. And until the left acknowledges and apologizes for that, reconciliation is not going to come.
But our primary goal going forward – even more than enforcing accountability on the bad-faith left that used the covid crisis rather than “letting it go to waste” – should be to make sure that this never happens again.
A good first step would be to reverse any lingering covid policy hangovers: ban any further mandates and rehire anyone unjustly fired; cancel any loan deferments speciously attributed to the “crisis;” return any unspent and unneeded covid “relief” appropriations to the treasury.
A good second step would be to expose and punish those who behaved badly and dishonestly, from Fauci on down. Not primarily out of a desire for vengeance – although that is a legitimate motive too – but “pour l’encouragement des autres.”
Because if Fauci gets the public arse-whipping he deserves – through investigating and publicizing his dishonest emails, responsibility for funding dangerous gain-of-function “research,” and dirty financial dealings – we’ll have made future potential power-grabbers a lot more gun-shy about trying this kind of stuff again.
We’ll know we’ve succeeded when the next arrogant fool who stands up and says anything as stupid as, “I am the science!” will be mercilessly mocked and then thrown off the public stage like John Wayne tossing a bad guy through a set of swinging saloon doors.
Here in CO nation, we stand ready on the mockery ramparts!