Well, too bad for that.
Making these kinds of guesses is a mug game. Still, it’s hard to think of a single opinion from last year that has aged as badly as that of Nichols: Hysterical merchants predicting a second Black Death, with tens, if not hundreds of millions of dead, to those who insisted it would. impossible to develop a vaccine quickly, very little of what experts have told us has inspired confidence.
First, we’ve heard that masks are not only unnecessary but actually bad, that no one should wear them. Then we were told what could be politely described as the opposite, that not wearing them, even outdoors, amounts to murder. Instead of going out in the sun, people were encouraged to stay indoors, where the virus was most likely to be transmitted.
The latter remained the consensus until practically the murder of George Floyd, when suddenly large-scale gatherings became not only permissible but imperative. (Only a week earlier, I had been lectured for allowing my kids to play on a merry-go-round because I hadn’t – no kidding – brought a bottle of disinfectant.)
When someone finally writes the story of that bizarre time, I hope the book cover photo is an image of a looter wearing a face mask, probably because he doesn’t want to spread the virus to those whose he steals the property.
Now in New York State, the same experts who introduced active COVID infections into nursing homes, resulting in thousands of deaths, have made it official policy for young children to wear masks in day care centers and summer camps. (After an uproar, they went from a warrant to a recommendation, which is still absurd.) Bureaucratic geniuses are kind enough to make exceptions when kids are sleeping or swimming.
The virus, which poses no significant risk to children’s health anyway, understands it’s nap time, just as it knows to stay away when eating at your restaurant table – But do not when you walk into the restaurant. Likewise, the virus knew it was only allowed to go out at night, which is why bars in New York were initially allowed to reopen provided they closed before the emergence of the nocturnal predator.
Living in the rural Midwest, where common sense doesn’t allow us to stoop to such nonsense, I find it hard to imagine children wearing masks. My own children never did and never will. They wouldn’t even do it if we told them to. Our cheerfully naughty 3-year-old regularly takes off his shoes and even his pants and shirt in public places, including churches. The idea that he would keep a mask on for more than five seconds, let alone wear it according to any guidelines that might make it effective (not touching or pulling it off, not using it as a bucket of sand or a slingshot). ), is laughable.
Not only were the experts wrong about everything from masks to outdoor transmission to the risk posed to children and young adults; they were also painfully naive about the consequences of the lockdowns. Last year’s increase in violent crime, child sexual exploitation, drug addiction, drug overdoses and other so-called “deaths from desperation” and unemployment was quite predictable. Now the same people who couldn’t spot these evils on the horizon are clearing themselves of all responsibility.
This is why one year I can say with confidence that COVID-19 did not make me or anyone else to trust the experts. The virus has probably done more to discredit the cult of expertise than any other event since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, when virtually all of that country’s major opinion-makers agreed on the basis of no proof that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Add to that the devastation of American industry by NAFTA and the supposed impossibility of the election of Donald Trump as president, and it is clear that the so-called adults in the room are the most childish of us all. .
Matthew Walther is editor-in-chief of The Lamp magazine.