Political Editors / May 13, 2022

In Brief: Won’t Get Fooled Again

“Americans should never again let public-health authorities deprive them of their liberties.”

Lockdowns over COVID cost us so much. Most of us know that now. Some of us — including in our humble shop — argued at the outset that the cure could be worse than the disease. Journalist John Tierney concurs:

No convincing evidence existed at the start of the pandemic that lockdowns, school closures, and mask mandates would protect people against the virus, but it was remarkably easy to make the public believe that these policies were “the science.” Today, thanks to two years of actual scientific evidence, it’s clearer than ever that these were terrible mistakes; yet most people still believe that the measures were worthwhile — and many are eager to maintain some mandates even longer.

Undoing this deception is essential to avoid further hardship and future fiascos, but it will be exceptionally hard to do. The problem is that so many people want to keep believing the falsehood — and it’s not just the politicians, bureaucrats, researchers, and journalists who don’t want to admit that they promoted disastrous policies. Ordinary citizens have an incentive, too. Adults meekly surrendered their most basic liberties, cheered on leaders who devastated the economy, and imposed two years of cruel and unnecessary deprivations on their children. They don’t want to admit that these sacrifices were in vain.

After briefly discussing the psychology of cognitive dissonance, Tierney continues:

It’s been a two-year-long version of Hell Week, especially in America’s blue states, with Anthony Fauci and Democratic governors playing the role of fraternity presidents humiliating the pledges. Americans obediently donned masks day after day, stood six feet apart, disinfected counters, and obsessively washed their hands while singing “Happy Birthday.” They forsook visits to friends and relatives and followed orders to skip work and church. They forced young children to wear masks on the playground and in the classroom — a form of hazing too extreme even for Europe’s progressive educators.

For those who clamor for more of this, Tierney says:

Facts alone will not be enough to change their minds. To undo the effects of the hazing, we need to ease their cognitive dissonance by showing that they’re not to blame for their decisions. The mental mistakes were not made by citizens who dutifully sacrificed for two years. They assumed that the Centers for Disease Control knew how to control disease and that scientists and public-health officials would provide sound scientific guidance about public health. Those were reasonable assumptions. They just turned out to be wrong.

Tierney continues through a litany of rational critique of the last two years, eventually concluding:

Those are the hard truths that Americans need to hear after two years of Covid hazing. It won’t be easy convincing them that they fell for a deception, but it can be done.

The whole thing is well worth reading here.

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