On April 23, Julie Appleby, a senior correspondent with the Kaiser Health News network, published a piece in the Los Angeles Times headlined, “Michigan’s Outbreak Worries Scientists. Will Conservative Outposts Keep Pandemic Rolling?” implying that both the sleepy Michigan town where I live, and the college I attend, are biohazards:
Michigan’s outbreak could be an anomaly or a preview of what will happen in the nation as it emerges from the pandemic. Will pockets of covid denialism and vaccine resistance like that in Hillsdale—where the local college newspaper ran an opinion piece against the shots—serve as reservoirs for a wily virus, which will resurface to cause outbreaks in nearby cities and states?
This is a disgusting and shameful attack. Appleby’s insinuation that the place I live and the people I love are a virus “reservoir” is an outright lie.
First though, Appleby needs to get her story straight. This piece wasn’t her first attack on the college. In January, Appleby alleged that far from being a reservoir of COVID denialism, the college had “jumped the line” to get vaccines to its staff. She also insinuated that Hillsdale bribed the local hospital by providing deep freeze storage for these vaccines.
Appleby’s first attack was also rooted in a lie. Hillsdale did not “jump the line” to get vaccines to its staff. The college received the shots because the local hospital had hundreds of unused vaccines it couldn’t give away to those higher on the priority list. Instead of keeping the vaccines in storage, it decided to offer the vaccines to local educators who, while lower in priority, were still eligible.
The local hospital CEO, Jeremiah Hodshire, justified this decision by pointing to the state’s guidance that “The phased vaccine recommendations are meant to be fluid and not restrictive for jurisdictions.” Hodshire argued that he was just trying to “get shots in arms,” as the state suggested. Hillsdale College was helping by offering shots to educators who, per state guidance, were at a higher level of eligibility than the general population.
Appleby needs to choose. Is Hillsdale bad because it “jumped the line” to distribute unused vaccines or is it evil because it isn’t properly concerned about the illness? She won’t, of course. Her obsession with a college in a region of the country where she has no obvious connection belabors a more deep-rooted hatred. Appleby’s “reporting” isn’t a good-faith criticism but an attempt to call down the Eye of Soros on her political enemies. She wants to destroy the way of life my neighbors and I enjoy.
It won’t work. When Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer illegally shut down all higher educational institutions a second time last fall, Hillsdale students and faculty simply continued to meet in their homes. Those who are serious about liberal education do not see any need to comply with the totalitarian edicts of petty fools.
Hillsdale College and the surrounding town are not “driving outbreaks” of anything. This part of rural Michigan has returned to normal because life is normal here. Deep down, this is what Appleby and journalists like her really abhor. They hate those who are immune to their ginned-up outrage and panic porn. The people of Hillsdale are too sensible to fall under the sway of far-off hysterics.
We do not live in fear because there is no reason to do so. So far, there have been 82 alleged COVID deaths in Hillsdale County amid a population of 46,000. In a normal year, around 514 residents die from all causes. The overall impact of COVID on excess mortality in Hillsdale is unclear—finalized numbers from the state have yet to be released—but the worst-case scenario represents a change from 1.1 deaths for every 100 people to 1.3 deaths for every 100. For comparison, during the Great Plague of 1665 in London, 25 out of every 100 citizens died of the plague.
Quite simply, the average Hillsdale resident sensibly refuses to live in fear over a statistical aberration in the death rate. Here in Hillsdale County, lived experience triumphs over hyperventilating talking heads on television. At the college, not a single student or staff member has been hospitalized because of the virus. Governor Whitmer’s masking regime is, unsurprisingly, in total collapse among the student body and the townspeople.
Life in Hillsdale has returned to decency and normalcy. Students go to class without masks. The college hosts events, fundraisers, and student activities. Young couples go on walks and fall in love. The on-campus coffee shop bustles with activity and laughter. People treat each other like human beings instead of plague carriers. Hillsdale is a reservoir of sanity and life—not disease.
Deep down, it is the spiritedness and liveliness of my fellow townsfolk that inspires the hatred of Appleby and her ilk. The ongoing insanity of the American elite’s COVID response is a sign of a deep-seated spiritual illness. The CDC’s recommendations for how to “defeat” the virus—hiding one’s face, avoiding human contact, and remaining in one’s home indefinitely—corrode the soul. These health experts took the list of symptoms for suicidal depression and made it a nationwide prescription. Spiritually healthy people do not live this way, especially not for a “pandemic” as overblown and media-driven as this one.
Americans everywhere would be better off ignoring the Julie Applebys of the world and returning to normal life. The people of Hillsdale know how to live the good life better than credentialled experts and their computer models. We deserve to be left alone. But if the Eye of Soros and its minions like Julie Appleby refuse to let us alone, then they will have a fight on their hands.
This is a warning to the enemies of decency and sanity. Do not tread on Hillsdale College. Do not tread on my neighbors. Do not tread on me.