The TownhallPolitics

There won’t be pandemic amnesty without an apology

By Matthew Delaney

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV.

I don’t say this often, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t: I told you so.

In February, I penned a piece for ScoonTv titled “If elites ever apologized for the pandemic, it’d sound like this.” I was trying to have a little fun because, after all the trauma and drama that was the heart of our Covid-19 hysteria, we were coming out on the other side. Those of us who were so tuned into the pandemic knew that any sense of self-motivated accountability from the experts and government officials wasn’t going to happen. So, I figured we should laugh about it.

Astute readers of that piece will notice two key words are missing from the mock letter I wrote from the perspective of The Elites — “I’m sorry.”

The list of “sorrys” is endless. Sorry for blue states siccing their Mr. Anderson’s on you — whether that be the grocery store cashier, the flight attendant, or the receptionist at your kid’s school — whenever your mask wasn’t fully over your nose; sorry for robbing you of milestones such as graduations, proms and major birthdays; sorry for keeping you from attending funerals, and visiting elderly loved ones in nursing homes, and running your business. But maybe most of all, no sorry for poisoning the little joys that we all indulge in, such as a drink at a bar, a night out at a restaurant, an intense gym session or hitting up a packed concert, without thinking that you were somehow helping print the death certificate for someone’s grandma.

This pandemic was ugly… but not because of the actual disease itself. It was the social disease of blind political hatred that is more pronounced in our left-wing institutions. If you desist from their greater wisdom, you risk being labeled a domestic terrorist or having your Covid sickness (and even death) cheered on.

That ugliness is something that needs to be addressed. Yet, surprisingly, that’s not what our string-pullers want. Instead, they want to call an armistice.

You’ve likely heard of The Atlantic article that’s rocketed around the internet titled “Let’s Declare a Pandemic Amnesty.” I don’t know why Brown University professor Emily Oster was chosen as the sacrificial lamb to write this piece, but I do know that if she is calling for amnesty, she likely didn’t suffer as much as she thinks from the stigma that was created for those went against our institutional deities (though to be fair, she said she was called a “teacher killer” for wanting to reopen schools).

School closures were one of the areas where Oster acknowledges the powers-that-be were wrong, as were lockdowns, outdoor masking, and closing the beaches. These were people acting earnestly to do what was right, she wrote, even if in hindsight they look like dunces. I assume she was coaxed out of putting sand-filled skate parks, chained up basketball hoops, and tying masks to special needs children because it would’ve been too damning for our nearly 2023 brains to comprehend.

But it’s toward the end of the piece that has riled so many people up. She says instead of yelling “scoreboard!” at our inept public health officials, journalists, and politicians who did nothing to improve the country’s handling of the pandemic, she wants us to drop that anger. Better yet, she wants you to put it toward something useful, like helping improve children’s test scores that saw dramatic drops, and getting kids to have their routine vaccinations for things like measles, which also fell off during Covid.

Her last paragraph really drove home the point.

“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.”

In other words, she’s telling you in a very polite, suburban mom-type of way to quit making such a big stink about the pandemic and move on

That said, I don’t agree with what many right-wing figures are saying that we need to have our own version of the Nuremberg trials to hold these people accountable. As terrible as Covid was, it wasn’t the Holocaust. It was a grave injustice on the basic dignity that we are supposed to treat each other with, but it wasn’t gas chambers and death camps. Going overboard in calls to mete out justice is just lame mimicry of the left’s righteous indignation about their own causes. It feels good in the moment, but it risks making our overall concerns appear unserious in the long run.

But the right is broadly correct that there does need to be some sense of accountability. Cooler heads have already expressed as much. There can’t be “amnesty” for those who so callously treated your time as insignificant compared to broader projects that involved keeping schools closed to benefit union lackeys, trying to get people fired for not taking a shot, or more viciously abroad, choking people unconscious who aren’t wearing a mask or releasing the hounds on people for protesting lockdowns. At least, not without a real, genuine apology and a commitment to reforming the broken mental models that had us at each other’s throats.

Oster could’ve actually done some good if she just said those two key words — “I’m sorry.” However, saying that would mean she (and plenty of others) would have been wrong. As you know, the left is never wrong. They’re just so passionate that they get a little too caught up in their own vision for a better world.

This nation won’t heal when the egos of a small, yet immensely powerful group of people are seen as more important than the lives and experiences of the masses. Oster may not want that “repetitive doom loop” to continue, but her calls for amnesty without any sense of contrition did nothing to stop it.

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Matthew Delaney


Matthew Delaney is a local journalist based in Washington, D.C. When he’s not questioning why he joined the media, he’s doing his part to restore some of its credibility with quality work

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