For once, I agree with MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes.
In an October 5 tweet, Hayes suggested the need for “some kind of truth and reconciliation commission” to hold accountable the politicians and experts who mishandled the coronavirus pandemic.
Hayes, no doubt, had in mind the president and Republican governors such as Florida’s Ron DeSantis and South Dakota’s Kristi Noem, who have bucked the credentialed class’ ever-changing diktats on the never-ending crisis.
Hayes is right—just not for the reasons he imagines.
As the dust settles on one of the most destructive man-made events in history—it’s hard to think of an appropriate comparison aside from war—the grim reality of what a handful of people inflicted on the world is coming into clear view. And there is no question that the perpetrators of this catastrophe should bear responsibility.
While cable news fixates on the numbers of deaths and reported cases, other heartbreaking statistics go largely unnoticed by pundits and journalists who now think mask-shaming amounts to hard core reporting on the crisis. It’s been 216 days since Americans were asked to make extreme and unprecedented sacrifices to “flatten the curve” of the expected COVID-19 caseload. This two-week suspension of daily activities, which included going to school and operating businesses, was intended to protect frontline health care workers. “We’re all in this together,” we were assured. Horrifying scenes from China and Italy acted as powerful warnings of what could happen if we did not submit.
Seven months later, life is nowhere near back to normal. And as the human wreckage of their untested advice mounts, some of the earliest advocates of the pseudoscientific concept of “social distancing” that morphed into full blown house arrest are having second thoughts.
The World Health Organization, an early promoter of national lockdown policies, in April detailed a preposterous list of benchmarks that countries would have to achieve before they could reopen. The protocol included “control” of COVID-19 transmission, isolation, contact tracing, and stringent protective measures in workplaces and schools; only the most prosperous countries would be able to afford implementing WHOs costly, burdensome list.
But even WHO is now beginning to recognize the downstream impact of its inhumane policies on the world’s most vulnerable.
In a recent interview, Dr. David Nabarro, WHO’s special envoy on COVID-19, said the organization doesn’t advocate lockdowns “as the primary means of control of this virus.” Nabarro cited the crushing effect on tourism in the Caribbean and on smallholder farmers who can’t take their goods to market; he predicted that global poverty rates and child hunger would double by next year.
“This is a terrible, ghastly global catastrophe,” Nabarro told a British reporter on October 9. “Remember, lockdowns have one consequence that we must never ever belittle and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer.”
Sadly, that’s only part of the tragic future. Lockdown orders could reverse 25 years of progress on ending child marriages in southeast Asia and India, where one out of three child marriages occurs.
“But a harsh, long lockdown, which was implemented with just a few hours’ notice, left millions of daily labourers and migrant workers without any work, pushing millions more into poverty,” concluded a new study in The Lancet. “India’s economy contracted by almost 24% last quarter and schools remain closed across the country as tens of thousands of new COVID-19 cases continue to be recorded daily. Millions of families have been forced to consider child marriage to alleviate poverty.” One million more young girls are expected to get pregnant this year; childbirth is the leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19 in developing countries, the authors report.
Save the Children estimates 1.5 billion children are out of school with no access to remote learning. The crisis is causing a global mental health crisis as jobs, families, and the routine of daily life have been abruptly—and unnecessarily—upended with no relief in sight.
Dr. Scott Atlas, the newest member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told me last week that a “lockdown is a luxury of the rich.” How true. The hardest hit, both here and abroad, are the working class and the poor.
Nearly 100,000 U.S. businesses that were open in March will close permanently, according to a survey by Yelp. Workers in the restaurant and retail industries have endured the greatest job losses; it’s hard to see a full rebound any time soon as inane, unproven fears about potential spread in bars and restaurants continue to justify prolonged closures in several states.
No one has been immune to the cruelty of coronavirus “mitigation” measures.
College students are treated with less dignity than criminals held in solitary confinement. A painful article in the New York Times last week featured stories of lonely, depressed college freshmen adjusting to quarantine rules on campus. One first-year student at Temple University said he looks forward to the elevator ride to his 13th floor dorm room because “it’s the only time I get to talk to people.” A resident assistant at the University of Illinois was fired for refusing to go into a quarantine unit after the school notified him he had been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. (He tested negative.)
Remote learning is a joke, as any parent will attest, but that isn’t stopping teachers’ unions and gutless governors from sacrificing the well-being of America’s children even though research confirms what most knew a few months ago; schools are not super spreaders. Meanwhile, kids in disadvantaged homes and communities suffer the most.
After failing to protect vulnerable seniors in nursing homes, authorities continue to make their lives miserable by refusing to allow family and friends to visit. Residents in a long-term care facility in Colorado, many in wheelchairs, protested draconian rules for visitors, which prohibits any physical contact. Heartbreakingly, some held signs that read, “Rather die from COVID than loneliness.”
The stories of personal agony never end; we’re only now grasping the totality of what’s been done under the guise of science and the common good.
So, now that we know lockdowns have prompted an international tragedy comparable only to miseries suffered in times of war, and that almost none of it was warranted, who pays?
Will the unrepentant taskmasters of “social distancing” be forced to defend this disastrous Stone Age-era approach to a world in despair? How can small business owners in states demolished by capricious decrees imposed by power-hungry governors seek recompense?
Who will ask Anthony Fauci or Deborah Birx to step away from the media spotlight long enough to witness first-hand the dystopian climate their guidance has created on desperate college campuses or the empty hallways in high schools or vacant kindergarten classrooms? Fauci, after all, again this week bragged that he advised the president back in March to “shut the country down.” His only regret is that the country wasn’t shut down “completely.”
But Fauci isn’t living with the repercussions of his wrongheaded advice. To the contrary, he still receives fawning media coverage and now is embroiled in a battle with Team Trump over the use of his comments in a campaign ad. Ironically, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out in an editorial on Tuesday, Trump might lose the election because the president “listened to Dr. Fauci too much on lockdowns.”
Birx just warned that holiday family gatherings might be iced as she pondered aloud “how to bring that safety into the household.”
The “science!” and the experts we heeded in a moment of crisis turned out to be dead wrong; the world will suffer the aftermath for years to come. And their legions of victims deserve answers and accountability or, at the very least, an apology.
So, if Chris Hayes and the Democrats want some sort of coronavirus tribunal for crimes against humanity, I say, bring it on.