Nearly two decades ago, a well-known figure gazed into one of C-SPAN’s cameras to answer a question during a live call-in program. “[Y]ou can’t control people’s behavior, but what you can do is you can educate, and you can try to modify behavior,” the figure advised. “[T]he only way you can do that effectively is to create an environment in which you don’t force people who are the subjects or the targets of your education and behavioral modification . . . underground.”
“You’ve got to create a situation where people understand that they’re not going to be stigmatized, that they’re not going to lose their human rights when they find out they’re infected,” the figure argued. However, “[i]f you make your education in an environment of oppressiveness, you’re not going to get to the people that you need to get to.” The key is “[n]ot oppressing or forcing people to do things because it doesn’t work that way.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci wasn’t quoting a monologue from Atlas Shrugged during his July 2002 appearance on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. The future “America’s Doctor” was trying to answer a caller’s question about the link between behavior, including bathhouse sex, and the spread of AIDS. The caller wanted to know “how we can control the behavior of people in foreign countries when we can’t control the behavior in our country.”
Fauci flatly rejected the notion of controlling people’s behavior and invoked human rights and individual autonomy. Given his support for shuttering houses of worship, closing businesses, banning mass gatherings, mandating masks, and other government edicts to control COVID-19, Fauci’s 2002 views on behavior and AIDS are curious to say the least.
The Revolution Was — And Still Is
“There are those who still think they are holding the pass against a revolution that may be coming up the road,” Garet Garrett wrote. “But they are gazing in the wrong direction. The revolution is behind them. It went by in the Night of Depression, singing songs to freedom.”
Garrett, a critic of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his Brain Trust, was describing the New Deal’s impact on American life — a development which brought about a permanent American bureaucratic class, what is referred to now as the administrative state. Regardless of whether you think that is a good thing or a bad thing, no one can dispute that the New Deal altered the relationship between the American people and the federal government in significant, lasting ways. It was, in one word, revolutionary.
What’s happened throughout the world since March 2020, but particularly in America and the West, has been no less revolutionary. As late as February 2020, the libertarian Mises Institute’s Jeff Deist could write that China’s policy of “cordon[ing] off whole cities by dictatorial fiat and impos[ing] wholesale house arrest over cities” was something “unthinkable in Western countries.”
And if such profound restrictions on freedom could happen in the West, they certainly couldn’t happen in freedom-loving America. Consider the following moment from a 2012 event hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences in New York City. The event featured a panel which included journalist Maryn McKenna and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Dr. Daniel Jernigan. McKenna, flanked by Jernigan, speculated that the measures implemented in Toronto, Canada in response to SARS would be non-starters in America.
“In Toronto, one of the reasons that they managed to contain SARS, particularly the second time, is I think uniquely because it was Toronto,” McKenna explained to her Manhattan audience. “Because it was a place where the stated goals of the constitution are peace, order, and good government, not life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, where when you ask 30,000 people to stay home they do it,” she said, while the audience and her fellow panelists chuckled. “Would that have worked in the United States if SARS had come here? I think not.” [C-SPAN, Global Pandemic Prevention October 17, 2012, McKenna remarks at 1:02:22 mark.]
The unthinkable is here. The revolution is behind us, to use Garrett’s words, and perhaps here to stay. Many want to know about the origins of the coronavirus. Was the virus that causes COVID-19 made in a laboratory? Did the virus arise naturally in a Wuhan wet market? Did the Chinese Communist Party deliberately release the virus? Did gain-of-function research paid for by American taxpayers lead to the virus? Did Fauci lie to Congress?
These are worthy questions. But it would be a mistake to focus on those questions exclusively. There is a far more important origin story that must be explored, concerning the only thing about the COVID-19 pandemic no one can deny was manmade: the lockdowns, fashioned for the masses in the corridors of power, instituted in the name of fighting the virus.
For all his faults, Chairman Xi Jinping did not lock Americans down — our own leaders did. Even if it were proven beyond doubt that Xi himself personally developed the virus at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, walked out of the building, and released it into an unsuspecting world, he still wouldn’t be responsible for the enormous social turmoil the virus caused in America. That is entirely on the people who run the United States. And when the next public health crisis hits, our ruling class will bring the lockdowns back.
This Revolver report explores how the land of the free became the home of the locked down. Here we explore the U.S. public health establishment’s response to previous crises. This report shows that, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fauci and others in the U.S. public health establishment cast doubt on the effectiveness of shutdowns, questioned the use of masks to prevent the spread of respiratory disease, acknowledged natural immunity, and reserved school shutdowns only for the most extreme pandemic scenarios. What emerges from this portrait is that the lockdowns — the measures that consigned the elderly to die alone in nursing homes, sent people already living on the edge back into the clutches of substance abuse, and shuttered small businesses — were based less on science and compelling evidence than on pseudo-science and speculation. The smoking gun in this case is the body of statements and evidence from the “experts” themselves prior to 2020.