Because they think only the other side needs it
Thank you for this! Reminds me of how, during the height of the pandemic, I heard Christian people on both sides talking about bearing with the "weaker brother." Funny how we always think the weaker brother is the other guy!
Hello! I am reading widely on substack today, interested in various responses to the Oster piece, including this one. There’s always something to take away from every perspective and I thank you for yours. The thing is, the “mistakes were made” stance is dismissive of real and measurable harm that never should have been allowed to take place. A majority of policies, including school closures, were strongly contraindicated in existing pandemic planning guidelines. Many countries opened schools sooner, some never closed them. That’s not “luck.” That was known and knowable information. If people want to rebuild trust in public institutions and public health, there needs to be accountability. A scorecard of how experts stack up is absolutely what we need going forward. Why should people who claim they were “in the dark” be allowed to dictate policy? What madness is that? There are a ton of experts with a scorecard that is full of wins. Not a mixed bag. Those are the people we should be listening to, not silencing. There should be an interest in preventing this from happening again. Oster’s plea is disingenuous.
I do think the pandemic was a dynamic situation in which learning and being able to adjust your priors to a rapidly developing situation was key. Absolutely, whatever amnesty means* for anyone who is at least somewhat circumspect about that.
Wider than just the pandemic, but with the pandemic serving as the most universal example, I am very not interested in whatever amnesty means for people who have destroyed good things by immersing them in or using them for leverage in culture war. Did it with moralized zeal in the (falsified) name of Jesus, still insist they are and were always right. Blinded by culture war, will never acknowledge that they did harm, much less make amends and adjust to improve going forward.
Sorry if that coming from me is surprising or disappointing for y'all. I'm sure people will think I should read the Bible, or, like, Peterson, or Keller's book on forgiveness, or whatever, that I'm denying fundamental aspects of biblical Christianity. Forgiveness doesn't have to depend on the perpetrator's repentance, bitterness only hurts the ones who don't forgive even more, yeah, yeah, yeah, I know all the go-to stuff. Culture war-ifying everything, preferring to ruin it instead of share it, hurt a lot of people really, really deeply and people did that in the (falsified) name of Jesus. It's not just fine with me because the pandemic was tricky and complicated. They're gonna do it all over again at the next opportunity. Seventy times seven, right?
But if you want to dangle whatever amnesty means as a carrot for people to express circumspection, talk about what they wish they'd done different, acknowledge that people who disagreed aren't and weren't evil, I think that's a good idea.
*not a sarcastic thing; I think there could be some interesting conversations and compromises about what amnesty does and doesn't mean and I don't want to bicker about those details.
Accountability first. Then, possibly forgiveness.
But amnesty? Nope.
Biden and Hochul are still making campaign appearances with Randi Weingarten, who likely did more harm to our children than any single person in American history.
Instead, she’s in The Atlantic today arguing that if we hold grudges against everyone who got something wrong, or everyone who critiqued us when we think we were right, we will be continuing the social damage COVID has done to our lives, our relationships and communities, and we’ll be contributing to a “doom loop” of reactionary impulses.”
Yes!!! I just wrote about this: https://blacksnakeofvanity.substack.com/p/fear-of-judgement
The Black Snake of Wounded Vanity
I think this goes with the reality that we are going to be learning more about the last three years over the next decade. We will learn the mistakes that were made because we were working with only what we knew at the time. It's so hard. I have friends with vulnerable children who were isolated for nearly two years. I know too many people who lost loved ones to COVID. I know people suffering from long COVID. I'm a teacher and holy cow, can I see the impact of school closures but I was also afraid to be in person because I knew my students and their families weren't taking precautions outside of school. I'm a mom whose kids are actually doing ok because they have the privilege of living with educated, white middle-class parents who made sure they didn't stop reading and learning even though they were at home. Ever human has a different story and that's also what makes this all so hard.