The answer to the question “Will they ever admit to being wrong?” is of course: no. I’m speaking in particular of the architects of the lockdown and mandate policies that wrecked the rights and liberties of billions worldwide.
Now they want to pretend like it never happened or that someone else is responsible. And they do this even as they hammer out policies and treaties that normalize that exact response - OK, some tweaks here and there - in the future, while forging institutions that crush dissent.
Those people we know about. They are rather hopeless.
Let’s address a different case, the run-of-the-mill pundit who got it wrong and just cannot admit it. These are the people who should trouble us more because saying sorry in this case is completely cost-free. In fact, the opposite is true.
Readers would cheer their humility and congratulate them for honesty. The only cost would be psychological in some measure. They are supposed to be these great opinion leaders and cannot bring themselves to admit that they were so bloody wrong on such a huge topic.
This comes to mind because of an effusive and even absurdist article by Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. It was about how and why Taylor Swift is the greatest thing America has to offer.
The language here is intentionally over the top and she knows it. It’s a fun way to write. I know this because I used to write this way all the time, celebrating the glories of vending machine chicken salad or the McDonald’s cheese stick or what have you.
My argument here is not with the hyperbole as such. The problem comes deep into the article where she says the following:
“Downtowns across the country — uniquely battered by the pandemic and the riots and demonstrations of 2020 — are, while she is there, brought to life, with an influx of visitors and a local small business boom. Wherever she went it was like the past three years didn’t happen.”
Battered by the pandemic? Seriously? The pathetic pathogen never closed a single business, school, church, country club, arts theater, mall, stadium or public park. Governments did that, on the advice of crazed experts who pushed for this nonsense with no concern for public well-being.
Media got involved cheering the lockdowns and denouncing anyone who doubted their glories. Big Tech censored dissident voices.
Noonan could have fixed that sentence with the addition of one word: response. The pandemic response. It would be easy enough to type that word. Sure, that’s a bit lame but at least it is accurate.
Why does she refuse? You know the answer. She was among the panic-mongers who thought the lockdowns, masks and vaccine mandates were just fine. She wrote about it constantly.
I don’t know why, but she did. She has assiduously avoided admitting this for years now, even to the point of writing about the “great resignation” without ever mentioning lockdowns or vaccine mandates.
She mentions in passing that “at the height of the pandemic more than 120,000 businesses temporarily closed” but does not mention they were closed by force! She continually refers to the “shock of the pandemic” without mentioning that it was the shock of the pandemic response.
Her penchant here runs far back even to the vaccine rollout, which she called a “human and scientific miracle.” Whoops.
Even at the onset of lockdowns, she was all in:
“We should go forward with a new national commitment to masks, social distancing, hand washing. These simple things have proved the most valuable tools in the tool chest. We have to enter each day armored up.”
OK, Peggy, we get it. You bought all the propaganda. Many did. We corresponded at the time and it was very cordial… until you realized that I was on the anti-lockdown side. It didn’t matter after that whatever evidence I presented to you that the government was up to no good. I sent link after link and was very friendly.
At that point, you stopped replying, despite having many mutual friends. I was not being antagonistic. I was simply hoping that you would get ahead of the curve. You didn’t want to get ahead of the curve. You wanted to thread the needle of opinion very carefully.
The trouble is that the needle changed or went away completely. Now you are stuck with your old opinions of the past, which you keep trying to justify in the least auspicious way possible. The article I cited was the latest example. I assume that you are going to keep this up so long as the WSJ affords you the space.
I cannot say that I fully understand this way of thinking. But this much is clear: Peggy is hardly alone. Nearly every writer in every venue talks this way. Finally, the media is talking about ill health, learning loss, shut businesses, demoralized population, angry voters, loss of trust, inflation, you name it. Finally there is talk about all of this.
But universally, the prattle is the same. It’s always the pandemic, never the government’s response:
“9 Ways the Pandemic May Have Led to Precocious Puberty” ~ Psychology Today
“Kids Played Team Sports Less In 2022 Than Before COVID-19 Pandemic” ~ Forbes
“Walking Trips Fall Sharply in Portland Post-Pandemic” ~ Axios
“Mesilla Restaurant Owner Navigates Pandemic Recovery” ~ Fox
And so on it goes, as if to wipe out the history of the worst public health policy in the history of humanity. Plenty of people want to do that. Certainly most governments in the world would like that.
Regardless, pundits should not help them. Even if they were wrong in the past, nothing is stopping them from admitting the truth now.
It would be nice if we would get some truth from politicians too rather than this strange silence. No one has had the guts to grill Trump in particular on the details of why he green-lighted the mess.
That aside, the pundit class is paid not to be government propagandists but tellers of truth. In this case, it simply would not take much, only a bit more than claiming that a single pathogen among trillions floating around caused the whole world to fly into upheaval.
Truly, these writers discredit themselves with their contorted attempts to pretend that the microbial kingdom and not government itself is responsible for disaster.
The truth is nonetheless getting out there, even if you cannot read about it often in mainstream news. We have to get this history correct.
Everything depends on it.