Can Tyranny Be Forgiven?
On a recent episode of HBO’s “Real Time” with Bill Maher, guest Scott Galloway sat across from Maher and the former Democrat governor of New York Andrew Cuomo and said, “I was on the board of my kids’ school during COVID. I wanted a harsher lockdown policy. In retrospect, I was wrong. The damage to children by keeping them out of school longer was greater than the risks.
“But here’s the bottom line. Myself, the great people at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), I’d like to think the governor, (Cuomo nods) we were all operating with imperfect information, we were doing our best. Let’s learn from it. Let’s hold each other accountable. But let’s bring a little bit of grace and forgiveness amidst the shitshow that was COVID.”
Scott Galloway is a professor of Marketing at NYU Stern School of Business and host of "The Prof G Pod with Scott Galloway." He’s an influencer with over 566,000 followers on X (formerly Twitter). Across from him was the man who was governor of New York oversaw some of the country’s most incompetent, deceptive, and draconian measures of the pandemic.
Cuomo was the one to have hospitals ship COVID-positive patients to nursing homes where the elderly, the most vulnerable population to the disease, were located. The results were both tragic and disastrous. Said progressive media site Slate.com, “New York has had the second-highest number of COVID-19 fatalities per capita of any state, trailing only New Jersey.”
He appeared nightly on his brother’s CNN show in something that resembled schtick more than a public health service. He shut down everything from stores and businesses, to churches, schools, and any venue where communities gather. He enforced the nightly shutdown of the New York City subway to disinfect months after infectious disease experts said COVID did not spread by surface contact.
Late in 2021, the Cuomo administration admitted it was manipulating the data by excluding nursing-home resident deaths because they didn’t die on site in those facilities from COVID. They died in hospitals after contracting the virus in nursing-home care.
To be sure, Cuomo and Galloway were not outliers. They were joined by countless other local, state, and federal officials, health experts, business leaders, academics, the news media, big tech, Hollywood, big pharma, and corporate America.
Against this backdrop, Galloway now says that, “We were all operating with imperfect information, we were doing our best.”
But Were They?
It appears they really weren’t doing their best, if by “their best,” they mean looking after the public welfare.
Everyone had the same information at that time, yet millions of ordinary people knew then that the government’s handling was incompetent and possibly duplicitous.
Early on, Anthony Fauci said no one needed to wear masks, then he changed course. He later admitted that at first he lied because he wanted to save the masks for healthcare workers.
Throughout the pandemic, the public was told to believe and do things that defied common sense. They were told herd immunity was a thing, and when the vaccines hit the market, they were told a different story.
When the vaccines arrived, they were told the jabs were “safe and effective” and that the vaccines would prevent spread. Shortly thereafter, it became clear that the vaccines did not perform as advertised.
How did the CDC respond? It changed the definition of “vaccine.”
The list of offenses, screw-ups, and deceptions is long. The lasting effects of the vaccines have yet to fully reveal themselves, but to even question them can still get you booted from some platforms, or if you are a health professional, be placed into exile.
Is Tyranny Forgivable?
People couldn’t go to work, to church, to the store. Their kids, who were least vulnerable to the virus, were locked out of school for years. Parents who tried to teach their kids at home were chastised by teachers who refused to reopen the schools. Small businesses went bankrupt by the thousands.
President Biden took one of the most tyrannical steps of any U.S. president in history by ordering vaccine mandates throughout society, and penalizing anyone who did not comply by having them fired.
The Orwellian concept of vaccine passports was introduced. Freedom of movement throughout America was restricted and policed. Worst of all, all the policies combined seemed to isolate Americans, divide communities, organizations and even families.
The world broke down into the “vaxxed” and the “unvaxxed.” Entire segments of society demanded that those who opted not to get the vaccine be denied life-saving care. Friends and family members quit talking. An environment was created to demonize anyone who still presumed they had bodily autonomy. It was open season on “the unvaxxed” to exclude them from daily life, to fire them from their jobs, to shun them from their social circles.
And yet, since the pandemic started and the vaccines were rolled out, nothing the experts decided, recommended, mandated or advised appears to have made a difference.
If, as Galloway suggests, they were doing the best they could with the information they had, why did millions of nonexperts seem to know better, instinctively?
And now when it is so vividly clear they were wrong in so many ways, when it is extremely clear that they practiced the art of deception at multiple levels, they seek “grace and forgiveness.”
What you haven’t heard is an apology. What you haven’t seen is full transparency that acknowledges in detail, an accounting of so much of what they did by design and with intent. No one has been held to account in a courtroom. This means it’s not yet over.
If they can’t lay out what they did and explain exactly how and why they won’t do it again, a sane person would assume that they’re fully prepared to do it all again under a new set of conditions.
As the left is known to say, “Do the work.” Well, Scott, and Cuomo, and so many others, it’s now time for you to do the work. And you’ve got a lot to do. You want grace and forgiveness? Bend the knee. Do the work. Then we’ll talk.
Tim O'Brien is a veteran corporate communications consultant and crisis communicator who operates O’Brien Communications in Pittsburgh.