Calls are going out advocating “pandemic amnesty” for those who put Americans through two years of COVID-19 shutdowns and mandates. But critics of the idea are saying things like accountability and apologies need to come before just “moving on.”

Brown University economist Emily Oster got the ball rolling this week with an article in The Atlantic entitled “Let’s Declare a Pandemic Amnesty.” Among her statements, Oster says:

“We have to put these fights aside and declare a pandemic amnesty. We can leave out the willful purveyors of actual misinformation while forgiving the hard calls that people had no choice but to make with imperfect knowledge.”

“Moving on is crucial now, because the pandemic created many problems that we still need to solve.”

“Let’s acknowledge that we made complicated choices in the face of deep uncertainty, and then try to work together to build back and move forward.”

But Oster wasn’t the first to allude to a “fresh start” approach. In July, Washington Post columnist Alyssa Rosenberg wrote that “it’s not useful to focus on what should have been done to help children,” adding: “the better question is what can we do for them now?”

Reaction to making a fresh start varies. For example, Bethany Mandel – a homeschooling mother of five and a widely published writer on politics, culture, and Judaism – argues a proper understanding of forgiveness is needed first.

“In the Jewish tradition, we talk a lot about the fact that the first thing that you need in order to forgive someone is for them to ask for forgiveness – and we have not had that request,” Mandel tells AFN. “We have not had anything resembling an admission that mistakes were made, that an apology is due to many millions of Americans – to children who lost out on school, to businesses that were closed, to the people who were unable to attend to their loved ones’ last moments or their funeral.

“The list goes on endlessly,” she laments, “and we’ve never had an acknowledgement from the powers that be that mistakes were made.”

For those who may not budge on whether they were wrong, Mandel says there is plenty of data. “We have the data on child deaths; we have the data on learning loss,” she explains. “There are a lot of numbers out there that indicate very clearly that very deep mistakes were made – and as far as the children go, we’re going to be watching ramifications of that for the rest of their lives, [maybe] for the next several decades.”

Read Mandel’s column: The case against pandemic amnesty

Can’t forget the Left’s ‘power grab’

Conservative activist Gary Bauer isn’t a big fan of the suggestion of an “amnesty” for those who put the country through the misery of shutdowns and mandates. Bauer, chairman of Campaign for Working Families, says the “power grab” during the pandemic – at both the federal and state levels – must not be forgotten.

“Our churches were closed because these leftist governors and members of Congress decided that the freedom of religion wasn’t essential, but abortion clinics were kept open,” he points out.

“We had first responders … and men and women in uniform who are our heroes who lost their jobs or were kicked out of the military because they raised religious objections to taking the vaccine. That was outrageous.”

Something, says Bauer, needs to be done to make up for what happened to those people.

“Look what was done to our children,” he cites for an example. “You had the big teachers’ union conspiring with the CDC and the Biden administration to keep our schools closed. Our children suffered from that, particularly minority children.

“So, before I forgive those teacher unions and forgive the CDC for what they did, we all should want accountability,” Bauer concludes.

Mandel is onboard with accountability. “… I don’t think we need to hold a grudge against the Anthony Faucis and the Lena Wens of the world,” she offers, “but they shouldn’t be in charge of what they were in charge of over the course of the pandemic because they showed their judgment so flawed that we don’t want them steering the ship if there is another iceberg.”

Still, Mandel says she admires Rosenberg and Oster. While she describes them both as “brilliant women who are really wonderful, good-hearted people,” she also views their suggested post-pandemic approach as “misguided … when we have not really done the work of apologizing and moving forward.”


Copyright American Family News. Reprinted with permission.

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