One Year Later, Vindication for Lockdown Skeptics

One year ago, I tweeted: “This is what the Left wants. They want people stripped of wealth, isolated, and terrified. They want sources of joy—church, sporting events, vacations, large social gatherings—eliminated. This is how they get control. And it’s far scarier than any virus.”

It was not a popular sentiment at the time.

My initial reaction to government-ordered lockdowns, promoted by politicians on both sides and President Trump, was in the slim minority to say the least. “Flattening the curve” required deep personal sacrifices, we were warned.

Anyone skeptical of the alleged effectiveness of lockdowns or concerned about the long-term consequences was condemned as a bloodless “grandma killer” or “greedy capitalist” defying science and lacking compassion.

But from the start, “the curve” was bogus stagecraft. As I explained last year, the curve the authorities presented to Americans wasn’t accurate. 

“It’s not unreasonable, in fact, it’s necessary and responsible, to consider that COVID-19 has been in the states since the first of the year,” I wrote March 19, an assessment we now know is true. “If this is the new normal, where incomplete data and media-fueled panic rule the day, that is an even more frightening prospect than what’s happening right now.”

Sadly and shamefully, it has been America’s new normal for one year and counting.

An Explosive Issue on the Right

My experience covering the hyperpartisan scientific community for years taught me to view coronavirus fearmongering and lockdown orders with skepticism. The credentialed class declared war on Donald Trump the night he won. Scientific “experts” cannot be trusted to separate their political agendas from their professional obligations, which they proved last summer when the “social distancing” dogma they foisted on the rest of us suddenly didn’t apply to mobs of “social justice” protestors and rioters enraged over George Floyd’s death.

Coronavirus hysteria and its cure—shutting down the national economy, including schools—quickly evolved into an explosive issue on the Right; longtime allies were at each other’s throats. Pundits and journalists who were compatriots during Trump’s tumultuous first term fought on social media in a very public feud. The battle, in some cases, became highly personal.

The tiny handful of us who denounced the lockdowns from the start found ourselves at odds with a president we routinely defended. I was stunned when the president, based on untested models using flawed data, complied with Drs. Anthony Fauci’s and Deborah Birx’s demand to keep the country shut down throughout April.

That month, I argued Trump should sideline Fauci, Birx, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams for constantly changing their guidance while insisting the country remain closed. “President Trump should let them go back to their desk jobs for now while he quickly devises a plan to restart this cratering economy, free Americans from house arrest, and get life back to as normal as possible. They had their chance—they have failed.” Staying six feet apart—the basis for keeping businesses, restaurants, and schools closed—is untested pseudoscience, as I reported in April.

It was a fraught time for everyone, of course, but early lockdown skeptics faced especially harsh condemnation from all sides since we bucked the clichéd “we’re-all-in-this-together” groupthink. The blinders were on for lots of otherwise smart people who were either ignorant or naïve about what the Left is capable of doing or perhaps too frightened of the virus to be honest with themselves.

Foreordained Failure, Zero Accountability

One year later, we are vindicated—yet there’s no cause for celebration. Only in time of war has this country endured more permanent economic damage, more reckless government spending, or more widespread human suffering. This has been an unnecessary self-inflicted wound from which millions of families will never fully recover. And it’s ongoing to this day.

Lockdowns were doomed to fail: with a few exceptions, humans have been unable to conquer debilitating viruses—pathogens outsmart us every time; there is nowhere to hide. And the quarantine of healthy people, especially children, set the world’s most advanced civilization back to the Stone Ages.

But the “party of science” wisely seized the opportunity. The strong overpowered the weak in the biggest political power grab in modern U.S. history; the young sacrificed for the old. Our most vulnerable citizens, children and the elderly, were betrayed, in some cases killed, by the very same political interests purportedly devoted to protecting them.

Even I underestimated the wickedness of the Left, how far they would go to exploit the crisis. I also underestimated the cowardice of so-called conservative leaders who not only refused to confront catastrophic, liberty-crushing lockdowns but went along with those authoritarian government orders. Republican governors, for the most part, have acted as badly as their Democratic counterparts.

President Trump, who wanted to open up the economy and the schools in April, was hamstrung by his own team of advisors and experts; the man famous for firing incompetents allowed proven incompetents to run the COVID show and drive a thriving U.S. economy into the ground. Trump warned the cure could not be worse than the disease—but by every measure, it was.

The damage done by lockdowns—economic, mental, physical, emotional, educational—is incalculable. Once the shock wears off, the horror stories of what happened after March 2020 will be told for years. The number of victims of inhumane lockdowns will far exceed those impacted by the disease itself.

Yes, COVID-19 took a toll but we will never have an accurate number of how many died as a direct result of the virus. The public will never know how many people died in infected nursing homes and hospitals or because of deadly decisions to intubate patients early on. The mistakes made by public health experts and health care providers will be covered up instead of fully vetted and accounted for.

Treating Kids Worse Than Criminals

For now, the threat of the virus is fading.

The suffering from lockdowns, however, continues. Ten of millions of school children still languish under a “remote learning” regime isolated from friends, teachers, and activities. Teens appear to be suffering the most; a paper released this month detailed skyrocketing reports of mental health issues and drug overdoses for children age 13-18. In the northeast last summer, there was a 333 percent spike in self-harm claims between August 2019 and August 2020 in that age group.

The situation isn’t much better for college students, who live in a quasi-state of solitary confinement. COVID is the center of campus life; nonstop testing, insane restrictions on gatherings, shuttered bars and restaurants, little to no in-person learning. My niece recently spent nine nights alone in an “isolation dorm” after testing positive for COVID yet displaying not one symptom. Nonetheless, she was cut off from any human contact and could not even leave her room to take a walk outside.

We treat criminals better.

Just this week, two sickening stories give only a glimpse into the tragedy caused by lockdowns. A 10-year-old boy was beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend in a Harlem tenement. “Ayden, an only child, had been attending elementary school remotely during the pandemic . . . adding that he had been inside the apartment for months without in-person interactions with teachers, counselors or nurses,” the New York Times reported. Those are the people who usually report child abuse to the authorities but unions refuse to allow teachers back to the classroom.

A lengthy ProPublica article described the crushing toll in one New Mexico town, which resulted in the suicide of a high school football standout, straight-A student, devoted son, brother, and friend. 

“If normally lighthearted Kooper, despite a loving family and natural gifts, had been struggling so much, what about all the others?” his parents wondered aloud to the reporters. “He was a kid who had everything, and this is where we’re at. What’s going on with those other kids?”

No one, least of all the Biden Administration as I wrote here last month, seems to care.

Never Again

What’s truly alarming is how many Americans want this cruelty to persist despite its proven ineffectiveness at “stopping” the spread of the virus. According to a new Pew Research poll, 74 percent of Democrats would keep restaurants closed to in-person dining and 66 percent of Democrats would keep schools closed. The “party of science” continues to defy science, common sense, and compassion.

The only upside to the lockdown catastrophe is that the depravity of our ruling class has been fully exposed. Their crimes against Americans won’t be litigated in any courtroom, unfortunately, but we can hope the untold number of surviving victims will have the final word in the next election.

One year ago, the overwhelming majority of Americans acted in good faith to do what we were told was in the best interest of our country. That faith has been abused and squandered by people who didn’t deserve it in the first place.

This must never happen again.

About Julie Kelly

Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President. Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. After college graduation, she served as a policy and communications consultant for several Republican candidates and elected officials in suburban Chicago. She also volunteered for her local GOP organization. After staying home for more than 10 years to raise her two daughters, Julie began teaching cooking classes out of her home. She then started writing about food policy, agriculture, and biotechnology, as well as climate change and other scientific issues. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1990 with a degree in communications and minor degrees in political science and journalism. Julie lives in suburban Chicago with her husband, two daughters, and (unfortunately) three dogs.

Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

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