This is my response to Let’s Declare a Pandemic Amnesty, by Emily Oster, published in The Atlantic on October 31st, 2022. After some personal anecdotes, she starts to approach the core point of her article.
In April 2020, no one got the coronavirus from passing someone else hiking. Outdoor transmission was vanishingly rare. Our cloth masks made out of old bandanas wouldn’t have done anything, anyway. But the thing is: We didn’t know.
Yet some of us did know. We explained our arguments against the efficacy of masks. We criticized the playground closures and outdoor activity restrictions. We pointed out the health benefits of exercise and going outdoors for fresh air. We were called COVID deniers and anti-mask fanatics in the pages of your publication, Emily. Dissenters found themselves doxxed and subjected to harassment, not because they were wrong, but because they were disobedient.
But most errors were made by people who were working in earnest for the good of society.
This is why we must always be cautious of self-righteous authoritarians who demand power for some greater good. They are flawed humans prone to error regardless of their real or stated intentions and expertise. That is precisely why it is times of emergency when we must be most skeptical of authority. We must listen to those who point out the unintended consequences of policies like lockdowns and arbitrary "social distancing" mandates.
We have to put these fights aside and declare a pandemic amnesty. We can leave out the willful purveyors of actual misinformation while forgiving the hard calls that people had no choice but to make with imperfect knowledge.
People always have a choice. People must accept the responsibility for the consequences of their choices, both good and bad, if they want respect and honor. It's easy to make "hard calls" when someone else pays the price. The label of "misinformation" has been used to dismiss criticism instead of offering real disproof. We saw time and again the mainstream voices finally admitting facts after months of social media banning us mere mundanes for pointing them out too soon.
Facebook meme, creator unknown
You still insist the MRNA vaccines were what ended the pandemic. You refuse to seriously address the skeptics even after all this time, and still consider us peddlers of misinformation intent on denying science and endangering others through disobedience. This undercurrent of pompous disdain runs throughout your essay, Emily. No data matched the mainstream consensus opinions and "scientific" predictions. There is still no obvious correlation between vaccine compliance rates and COVID rates.
The standard saying is that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. But dwelling on the mistakes of history can lead to a repetitive doom loop as well. Let’s acknowledge that we made complicated choices in the face of deep uncertainty, and then try to work together to build back and move forward.
You need to understand the mistakes of the past so you do not make them again. The Great Barrington Declaration and its signatories were ridiculed, not for denying the virus existed, but for dissenting from the approved response.
Yes, we need to work together to rebuild, but anyone outside the faction of unquestioning lockstep obedience has been smeared, insulted, and coerced for 2-1/2 years, Emily. There was real suffering as a result. People lost jobs, small businesses, and uncounted opportunities. They were kept from necessary medical treatment. Many were kept from the bedsides of dying loved ones. Others were driven to substance abuse or even suicide themselves thanks to the pressures imposed by your mistakes. You drove wedges between friends and families, inflicting scars that have not yet healed. That cannot be forgotten. It isn't even all in the past. You did this, and it can't be undone. The wounds remain.
You want amnesty, forgiveness, a clean slate. You do not demonstrate regret or repentance. You deny culpability, and do not offer even token restitution. Your pleas ring hollow, like those of every bully caught in the act, sorry only for not getting away with it. You frame the entire argument as mistakes on your side versus misinformation on the other. Do I sound bitter? I suppose so. I feel the pain of loss and suffering inflicted by you and your ilk. You want it all to just... go away.
You don't really own up to anything in your article, but for what it's worth, I forgive you, Emily. I will not forget what you have done, though, and I will do everything in my power to avoid being under your authority to do it to me again.
Readers, if you feel the same, this is your opportunity to take some steps toward more independence if you haven't yet begun.
If you are reading this, you are on HIVE, so you're presumably aware of alternatives to the legacy financial system that was used to punish Canadian protesters and bribe Americans with "stimulus checks" so they would turn a blind eye to unprecedented money supply inflation for the benefit of crony corporations.
The pandemic revealed how poor even the best public schools were, and students fell dramatically behind in academics. Seriously consider education without government schools. Khan Academy and your local library can provide a solid foundation with minimal effort.
Try to find a job or side hustle that can be recession-resistant and pandemic-proof. Build your community so you can cooperate with your neighbors instead of relying on distant bureaucrats in an emergency. Store food, water, and medicine. Work toward greater self-sufficiency and local resiliency.
We can learn the real lessons of COVID instead of just pretending it didn't happen.