Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
For weeks, Democrat governors, their pet public health experts, and the media threatened the public with a “Thanksgiving surge” if people spent the holiday with their families. When the threatened surge never materialized, they ghoulishly kept holding out hope for more deaths.
“Mayo Clinic says a possible post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge is still looming,” is how a media outlet headlined a story reporting that the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients and positive tests had actually dropped at its facilities.
Because you’ve gotta have hope.
“The travel, the congregate setting, not wearing masks — the chances are that you will see a surge superimposed upon a surge,” Dr. Fauci had claimed. “What we’re doing now is going to be reflected two, three weeks from now.”
Early December brought with it a wave of, “When Will We See the Thanksgiving Surge of COVID-19 Cases?” stories, with reporters waiting breathlessly for the bodies that didn’t come.
“May be a little bit of blip, but we don’t expect to see the full brunt of it between two and three weeks following Thanksgiving, so I think we have not yet seen the post-Thanksgiving peak,” Dr. Fauci told the Today Show in the first week of December.
By December 9th, Wisconsin health officials were still suggesting that the surge might be incoming and complaining that they might have missed it because not enough tests were being done. If the devastating surge can be missed by insufficient testing, it’s not much of a surge.
A week later, like Tampa Bay Rays fans, the media had to admit it wasn’t going to happen.
Week after week went by and the headlines slowly changed from, “Potential COVID-19 surge following Thanksgiving could cause ‘humanitarian crisis,’” to “Post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge expected to show in data this week” to “Doctors say post-Thanksgiving surge could still be coming” to “Coronavirus surge feared after Thanksgiving has not appeared”.
Sorry Tampa Bay Rays and Coronavirus case fans. Better luck next year.
A new set of headlines marched in black and white across the country’s better class of birdcage liners. The surge that was to have surged had shown no signs of surging. It was an ex-surge.
“Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge unrealized, Wisconsin could be ‘moving in the right direction’”, “Evidence suggests Ohio’s feared post-Thanksgiving spike of coronavirus cases has not occurred, instead cases leveled off”, “Data suggests MN did not see Thanksgiving COVID surge”, “Colorado Appears To Have, So Far, Dodged A Post-Thanksgiving Coronavirus Surge”, and my favorite, “Michigan may have missed COVID Thanksgiving surge sweeping nation.”
It’s a good thing that Michigan avoided that massive surge otherwise sweeping the nation.
Public health experts wouldn’t be scientists if they couldn’t admit their mistakes and the media wouldn’t be journalists if they couldn’t come clean and concede that they got it wrong. Naturally, they claimed that they were right all along and the only reason there wasn’t a surge is because everyone followed their instructions to the letter. They weren’t wrong. They were so right that they saved the entire country from a surge that would otherwise have inevitably taken place.
“What’s really exciting is we didn’t experience the surge we were all predicting after Thanksgiving,” Utah epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn explained. “It shows people were adhering to social distancing and mask-wearing during Thanksgiving.”
But public health experts hadn’t been praising the public for performing splendidly after Thanksgiving. Instead, there was widespread bemoaning about the record travel numbers. So many people had broken the rules, they insisted, that a surge was inevitably going to happen.
“We know people may have made mistakes over the Thanksgiving time period,” Dr. Birx scolded the nation on Face The Nation. “If you’re young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to 10 days later. But you need to assume that you’re infected.”
In a matter of weeks, Americans had gone from health hooligans to shining examples of public health. The data was being made to fit the hypothesis. And the hypothesis is that the experts are always right. And that hypothesis of expert omnipotence had become an unfalsifiable cult.
If a Thanksgiving surge had taken place, it would have proved that the experts and the media were right. When it didn’t take place, it also proved that the experts and the media were right.
Since they were right, they’ve moved on to predicting a Christmas surge.
Dr. Fauci is back to warning of a post-Thanksgiving surge right before the “Christmas, Hanukkah potential surge.” And then get ready for the Martin Luther King Day surge, the Groundhog Day surge, and the Valentine’s Day surge.
“This is not just the worst public health event. This is the worst event that this country will face,” Dr. Birx claimed, while wearing a pink face mask and a jaunty red scarf tied in a bow. “We cannot go into the holiday season, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, with the same kind of attitude.”
If you thought the Thanksgiving surge was bad, get ready for the Kwanza surge.
But there’s no event so terrible that Birx doesn’t have the right accessory or warning of doom to go with it. When the Thanksgiving surge doesn’t work out, you bet on the Kwanza surge.
Amid the new wave of surge hysteria which ignores the old surge hysteria, complete with the calls to cancel Christmas, and warning people that family gatherings are a death sentence, there are two possible conclusions to draw from the surge that never surged. Either the predictions were wrong or people can actually be trusted to intelligently draw boundaries.
There have been a lot of coronavirus deaths, but few of those were caused by people behaving irresponsibly toward their loved ones. Many were actually caused by public health experts.
Some of the most depraved disregard for human life in this pandemic was the decision by assorted health experts to force nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of elderly men and women. The experts who made those decisions, like Pennsylvania’s Dr. Richard Levine, took care to get their loved ones out of nursing homes.
That’s understandable. People are much more likely to protect those they care about.
After all the lectures and scoldings by the state, it was state action that killed as many as a third of the victims of the pandemic. Those decisions were made by experts with no feeling for the lives of the elderly that they coldly sacrificed to their larger strategies and calculations.
It’s why these decisions should never have been put in the hands of a centralized class of experts who were eager for power and publicity, but had no skin in the game of public affairs.
The idea that people couldn’t be trusted, but that experts could, is the un-american idea that lies at the heart of the failures of the pandemic. The Founding Fathers did not create a nation to be run by experts. The opinions of actual experts, not the administrators, public relations specialists, and government officials with medical degrees who have been running things, are welcome. But people can and should be making their own decisions. That’s how America works.
When it comes to people keeping their loved ones safe, they are in the aggregate far more trustworthy than the expert class who flit from network appearances to press conferences, let alone the cold relentless bureaucracy which would kill millions to save a comma in a document.
Plato’s philosopher kings or public health expert kings make poor rulers. And Americans make poor royal subjects. This nation was founded on the proposition that ordinary people are more fit to rule themselves than any nobility invested with the mandate of heaven, whether it’s ‘dieu et mon droit’ or Harvard. And every time they’re allowed to prove it, Americans have done so.
Individuals in the aggregate aren’t always right, but they’re more often right than their rulers. People who make decisions do so with skin in the game which makes them more likely to be right than the experts who are operating on theory without any sense of the consequences.
And the pandemic, the one area where the expert class should have shone, has proven it again.
If you don’t believe that’s true, get ready for the warnings about the Groundhog Day surge.