In her essay titled “Let’s Declare a Pandemic Amnesty,” Emily Oster asks readers to “acknowledge that we made complicated choices in the face of deep uncertainty, and then try to work together to build back and move forward.” We all chose to face the COVID pandemic differently, she writes, so let’s “focus on the future” without rehashing old debates or opening old wounds.
This argument comes from a position of profound privilege, from a person whose greatest sacrifice during the pandemic seems to have been forgoing crowds and instead going on long, fully masked hikes with her family.
Meanwhile, a lot of Americans were suffering – really suffering – because of the heavy-handed lockdown policies espoused in the pages of TheAtlantic and other rarified media outlets. Thousands of Americans were unable to attend the funerals of their loved ones. The elderly, like my own great-grandmother, were separated in nursing homes, quarantined, and died in solitude. On the other end of the age spectrum. a generation of children suffered learning loss from school closures that is only beginning to be documented - and from which they may never recover.
Our organization, Feds for Medical Freedom, represents thousands of federal employees and contractors who have chosen not to be vaccinated or disclose their vaccination status. Some of us did so based on deeply held religious convictions. Others because they believe in bodily autonomy (or that medical decisions are private matters between a patient and their physician). All of us were, as Oster puts it, making “complicated choices in the face of deep uncertainty.”
Because of those choices, jobs were lost, and careers were cut short. Lifelong public servants playing vital roles as diplomats, border patrol agents, VA nurses and TSA screeners were treated as enemies of the state and run out of their agencies. Most of us experienced a work environment that was openly hostile and demeaning, and those of us who have not yet been fired still do today. We’ve been segregated, harassed, added to new databases and watchlists. Some have had their security clearances permanently revoked. Those who dare to file whistleblower complaints face swift and harsh reprisal.
The Biden Administration, meanwhile, despite declaring that “the pandemic is over,” continues to defend its “jab or job” mandate in court and continues to threaten unvaccinated employees with loss of their livelihoods. In the face of overwhelming evidence that the vaccinations do not prevent transmission, this dogged commitment to a mandate is not “following the science.” It is, rather, kowtowing to a minority of COVID zealots whose worship of masks, vaccines, and social distancing - and expressed desire for violence against those who don’t conform - resembles religious extremism.
Ms. Oster wants us to “focus on the future.” But how can we, when our present is defined by the professional and economic uncertainty that comes with a Commander-in-Chief whose stated position is that we should all lose our jobs?
Ms. Oster also argues for “amnesty” for those with whom we disagree. Amnesty, however, is defined as “a general par
don for past offenses.” There can be no amnesty granted until leaders like President Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci and even media figures like Ms. Oster acknowledge that they are indeed guilty of ongoing offenses and miscalculations that continue to cause pain and suffering. According to the most basic tenets of my faith, true forgiveness can only happen where there is sincere repentance.
The correct course of action is not for Americans to issue a “pandemic amnesty” and move on. It is for the perpetrators of unscientific lockdowns and mandates to stop what they are doing and apologize. Then we can have a conversation about forgiveness.
By Marcus Thornton
Marcus Thornton is a federal employee and the president and co-founder of Feds for Medical Freedom. He is the recipient of multiple awards for work defending religious freedom, advocating for human rights, and fighting against human trafficking. All opinions are his own and do not reflect those of his employer.