The Religion of COVID Part Four: The Consequences for Democracy of COVID Mythology
“You slandered colleagues who did not surrender to you, you turned the people against each other, divided society and polarized the discourse. You branded, without any scientific basis, people who chose not to get vaccinated as enemies of the public and as spreaders of disease. You promote, in an unprecedented way, a draconian policy of discrimination, denial of rights and selection of people, including children, for their medical choice. A selection that lacks any epidemiological justification.
"There is currently no medical emergency, but you have been cultivating such a condition for two years now because of lust for power, budgets and control. The only emergency now is that you still set policies and hold huge budgets for propaganda and psychological engineering instead of directing them to strengthen the health care system. This emergency must stop!”
-Professor Udi Qimron, Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University
At the start of this series, we talked about the nations that did best confronting COVID. Our nation, of course, has done the worst; American exceptionalism put us in first place in both COVID deaths and in excess deaths caused by our feckless attempts to curb COVID. Our great hero Antony Fauci, who led us to this preeminent distinction, blames our failures not on his policies, but on our lack of vigilance in carrying them out. And many Americans seem to agree. Biden COVID guru Andy Slavitt recently blamed the surges on Americans’ unwillingness to stay masked forever, even though every mask study shows no benefit, even though masks have never historically worked for viral outbreaks, even though COVID is 200 times smaller than the openings in even an N95 so using a mask to stop COVID is like using a picket fence to stop mosquitoes. Thus have “experts” like Slavitt eschewed science and framed the COVID debate into a religious one: you either have faith and believe the experts, or you are the cause of the land’s pestilence.
Once people are compelled to follow myths preached by doctor-priests, once science become an unquestioning faith, once compliance to symbolic rules and rituals define who is holy and who is a sinner, then our nation becomes a Theocracy, one in which democracy and human rights can no longer exist, one in which we willingly bow to executive authority and media-pumped dogma while punishing those who won’t relent. And after almost two years of the COVID myths, we’re just about there.
As I wrote before, the mask is a symbol of that compliance. The holy wear masks, sometimes even in cars; there is no sense to that, no rational critical thinking, no scientific discussion of the merits and risks. It’s all or nothing; you’re either one of us or you are the other, the faithless, the spreader of plague. And if you want to see where this all leads, just watch Life of Brian. People love being led to salvation by false prophets. It’s kind of in our genes! As Nietzsche said, we’re herd creatures.
Sapiens author Yuval Noah Harari reminds us that myths become powerful when they gather strength in numbers and are used to confront our worst fears. “Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths.” And once we have come to embrace a myth, once we believe that myth to be the only path to our salvation, then we will fight for that myth with all our resolve, we’ll give up all reason and common sense for it, we’ll even toss away our freedoms. Censorship and the desecration of our democratic institutions are small prices to pay to assure societal compliance to the all-powerful myth. Writes Noah Harari: “In the past, censorship worked by blocking the flow of information. In the twenty-first century, censorship works by flooding people with irrelevant information.” Such “irrelevant information” are the myths all must believe if we are to live, for the ultimate myth of COVID is that death is the consequence of heresy, and all who oppose the medical priests and their rituals must be silenced and punished lest we perish from this worst-ever plague.
Says Agamben: “Like any other religion, this faith can produce fear and superstition, [b]ut only tyranny, only the monstrous Leviathan with his drawn sword, can be built upon the fear of losing one’s life.”
The COVID myth is equated to science, even if science discredits it. It is preached by doctor-priests, even if other smarter doctors and scientists debunk what they say but are labeled as anti-science right-wingers and conspiracy theorists and thus censored. It is repeated on our media day after day in a Goebbels-like propaganda campaign, with an infusion of never-ending fear keeping its light alive and its misinformation being construed as fact. The priests and their sycophantic media spokesmen have artificially divided the nation into those who endorse life (disciples of Fauci) vs those who are anti-life (the others), those who comply with science as Fauci says it is vs those who seek to undermine it by disseminating medical lies because they question the dogma. Even as the myth is shown to be false in the bright light of reality, those who have adapted it as their religion won’t give it up. It has acquired a life of its own, one that is unassailable. Any facts and data that challenge the myth must be construed as misinformation and censored or else the myth itself will be vulnerable and the perfidy of all those who preached it will be revealed. In any religion, it is crucial to censor and condemn the heretics, because if they are right, then the entire myth must be wrong.
And thus is the COVID theocracy incompatible with democracy, with free speech and free thought, with rational debates and scientific scrutiny. Even the most liberal Americans are willing to sacrifice their democratic rights and freedoms, and those of others too, upon a cross of bare life, of mythical survival. More than half of Democrats believe that the unvaccinated are dangerous and that it would be ok to remove them from their homes and place them in camps. Most Democrats are anti-choice when it comes to vaccination and masking, they endorse governors who have essentially declared unending Marshall Law and who undermine the will of elected councils and of state constitutions, and they call anyone anti-science who dares to challenge the Fauci myths. They wear their masks proudly; to them it’s a symbol of piety. To me, it’s a symbol of violence.
So, going back to the beginning of this blog series, let’s revisit the question we first asked: which nations did best with COVID when you measure success by overall excess deaths, overall human happiness, overall preservation of science and democracy? It turns out two countries share the honor of the lowest excess deaths, and they approached the pandemically diametrically differently. Only one of these countries wins on every other barometer of success; the other was an utter failure.
The first winner is Sweden, which has been discredited by the COVID-zealots as being a murderous regime that did not take the pandemic seriously enough and suffered severe death and destruction as a result. That’s part of the myth, of course, since as we noted, Sweden had fewer excess deaths in 2020 than any nation other than Australia, and if Sweden did well, then the entire COVID myth must be wrong and even dangerous. Yes, Sweden had more COVID deaths early, but it also has a larger elderly population than its neighboring countries with more people in longterm care facilities and at the end of life, and those constituted over 70% of Sweden’s COVID deaths. When I explained to a liberal and self-professed free thinker the details of Sweden’s success, she merely dismissed reality, instead sending me a CNN article which attested to Sweden’s horror. The myth always trumps facts when those facts challenge the sanctity of the myth.
Let’s look at what Sweden did. From the start they knew to protect the vulnerable, although admitted that they did a bad job of it. So, because their medical leaders focused on science and humanism rather than gimmicks and dogma, they changed course and did better. They also knew to leave everyone else alone, that kids and young people were less likely to die and get sick from COVID than from scaring and quarantining them. So, they kept schools open, businesses open, and society open. They, like Denmark, discouraged mask use and refrained from fear mongering. They wanted to maintain as much of a normal life for people as was possible. The COVID deaths in Sweden are a bit higher than in other countries (other than ours), but again, their demographics explain a lot of that. But, tellingly, their non-COVID excess deaths were far lower than anywhere else, and that led to fewer overall excess deaths than virtually any other nation, because Sweden was one of the few nations that realized the danger of closing society. As Sweden’s health minister said early on, nations must balance the risk of COVID with the risk of the cure, and his approach led to low excess deaths and the preservation of democratic rights, societal normalization, and virtually no negative impact on kids and young adults. And when it comes to depression, lost income, family strain, the destruction of a generation of kids, those haven’t been measured, but one can be sure that Sweden outdid the world on those scores too.
For their success in doing it right, Sweden swallowed the perpetual wrath of CNN, Fauci, and of all the doctors-priests and autocratic leaders who needed the COVID myth to persevere. If Sweden was right, then not only was everyone else wrong, not only was the Fauci-prescription way off track, but too everyone who preached the absolutism of the COVID religion would have to be seen as murderers by mandating a policy that killed more people than it helped. That’s why Sweden has to be wrong.
Said Professor Qimron, the immunologist from Israel: “When you compare the destructive policies you are pursuing with the sane policies of some other countries — you can clearly see that the destruction you have caused has only added victims beyond the vulnerable to the virus. The economy you ruined, the unemployed you caused, and the children whose education you destroyed — they are the surplus victims as a result of your own actions only.” The sane policy, of course, refers to Sweden, and the destructive policy to Israel, the United States, and so many other nations that fell for the Fauci myth of shutting down society as a way to save society, stripping people of their rights in order to preserve democracy, taking away the joy of life to preserve bare life, and resorting to gimmicks and rituals that are called science even as real science is called misinformation. Jake Tapper every night reminded us that the myth was truth, and that all those who dared even question it were dangerous heretics. He was our Goebbels. Even as he blasted the January 6th attack as the greatest threat to democracy in our nation’s history, he systematically dismantled the very heart and soul of our democracy as a necessary price to pay for the preservation of the myth.
Which brings us to Australia. That’s the other country with a low excess mortality. But they accomplished that task by veering in the other direction from Sweden. They shut down their society and took away everyone’s democratic rights. No one was allowed in or out, people could barely leave their homes, censorship became the rule of the day. They put people into concentration camps who were not vaccinated or who were believed to be contagious. (The picture above is that of an Australian who is protesting these camps) They have implemented never-ending quarantines and mandates. They arrest and fine people who walk out of their house without a mask. No travel, no gatherings, no life but bare life. By shutting down their society and dismantling their democracy, Australia also had fewer excess deaths that most of the world. But at what cost?
As the expulsion of tennis star Novak Djokovic shows, the Australia prescription was not about science or choice, it was about myth and compulsion. Djokovic had ample antibodies and recently had COVID, so he didn’t want or need a vaccine. But to the COVID fanatics, such heresy is dangerous. This isn’t about science or the preservation of democracy and civil society. It is about a theocratic hold over all people, a reliance on rituals and symbols mixed with censorship and a diminution of choice and freedom, about imprisoning people in a never-ending jail cell buttressed by faith and myth. We know that not a lot of people died in Australia, but we don’t know how many fell into depression, how many lost the will to live, how many kids will never be the same again. We also don’t know if their democracy will ever be restored. Once bare life and myth become the pillars of society, once success is measured by excess COVID death alone, then democracy must fall prey to theocracy.
So, there are two examples of COVID success. One in which science, critical thinking, and a policy that sought to harm as few people as possible prevailed. The other in which people were reduced to bare life, imprisoned, all their rights and joy removed, and totalitarian theocratic control instituted over every aspect of everyone’s lives. As one recent article shows, the extremism of Australia’s reaction may have saved lives by making life not worth living, but the likely price will be a return of the far right and a permanent dissolution of democracy and freedom. While Sweden will prosper, and their democracy will be even stronger, Australia’s lesson is that democracy must be destroyed for bare life to persevere.
Why then do we choose to adulate Australia and demonize Sweden? Why didn’t we see the Sweden example as a path forward? Did we intentionally want COVID to destroy our democracy?
In Robert Kennedy’s amazing book on Fauci, The Real Anthony Fauci, the author believes that much of the COVID myth scripted by Dr. Fauci and his minions, including CNN and Jake Tapper who also had stakes in COVID’s financial bonanza, had the explicit goal of selling expensive drugs and vaccines. Kennedy believes that Fauci has done this throughout his career, starting with AIDS and never stopping, allying with Bill Gates to essentially use a pandemic to derive profit and power. Kennedy writes that Bill Gates “summoned Dr. Fauci to Seattle to propose a partnership that, two decades later, would have a profound effect on humanity…[and] metastasize to include pharmaceutical companies, military and intelligence planners, and international health agencies all collaborating to promote weaponized pandemics and vaccines and a new brand of corporate imperialism rooted in the ideology of biosecurity. The project would yield to Mr. Gates and Dr. Fauci unprecedented bonanzas in wealth and power and have catastrophic consequences for democracy and humanity.”
Most of Kennedy’s meticulously researched book explores the deep-state ties of Fauci and Gates to industry and health-related groups, like the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO), that either Gates or the pharmaceutical industry largely controls. Fauci, it is noted, owns many patents, including the ones on the Pfizer vaccine and a stake in the dangerous and ineffective anti-viral drug Remdesivir, and he used his influence and fear mongering to convince Americans that Sweden’s approach, and that early treatment with cheap drugs and a focus on the vulnerable poor and elderly, would lead to massive deaths. To Fauci and his minions, personal choice, scientific debate, and anything short of universal vaccination mixed with quarantines and masking will be disastrous. As Kennedy shows, and as experiences elsewhere (and scientific truth) attests, Fauci’s dogmatism and his focus on profit over life—his ability to convince Americans that only by having faith in his gospel will they live—cost this nation hundreds of thousands of lives for a virus that could have been treated and for a societal shut-down and compulsory child immunization campaign that will cost more lives than COVID ever could. Is all of this true? From my perspective, my experience, and my reading, yes, it is true. Sweden’s success shows that we didn’t have to punish society as a necessary step to success. And my own experience with early treatment, and my own observations about how many frail elders perished and suffered from our masking and lock-up strategies while still getting COVID, shows that we had so many better options that public health authorities and the Fauci-derived dogma simply prevented us from instituting. So, yes, that policy was murderous, even if the prophets and media declare such reality as misinformation.
Kennedy’s book, which has references for every claim he makes, shows us that we could have been even better than Sweden, we could have turned our back on big-pharma and on those who sought to use COVID as a path to power and money. To Kennedy, the COVID myth was all part of a well-orchestrated collaboration between Gates and Fauci, one that reached its fruition with COVID, and which has and will continue to have devastating consequences for people, democracy, and the sanctity of science.
Kennedy, who Jake Tapper and others deride with the label anti-vax conspiracist, writes that in 2020 “liberal democracy effectively collapsed worldwide. The very governmental health regulators, social media eminences, and media companies that idealistic populations relied upon as champions of freedom, health, democracy, civil rights, and evidence-based public policy seemed to collectively pivot in a lockstep assault against free speech and personal freedoms. Suddenly, those trusted institutions seemed to be acting in concert to generate fear, promote obedience, discourage critical thinking, and herd seven billion people to march to a single tune…. Across Western nations, shell-shocked citizens experienced all the well-worn tactics of rising totalitarianism—mass propaganda and censorship, the orchestrated promotion of terror, the manipulation of science, the suppression of debate, the vilification of dissent, and use of force to prevent protest.”
Kennedy shows how the rich got richer, the poor both became poorer and were the ones mostly likely to die and suffer from misplaced policies, and Fauci in concert with a compliant media, federal agencies, and greedy corporations, suppressed truth and prevented effective early-treatment strategies, sacrificing human life and democracy in a quest for profits and power. How much of what he says is truth, and how much is conspiracy? As Mr. P in The Geriatrics Vengeance says, it’s probably some of both, but we just don’t know how much. And as Agamben says, “Defining anyone who seeks to know historical events for what they really are as a ‘conspiracy theorist’, however, is plain defamation.”
Without a doubt, the religion of COVID has led many progressive pro-choice liberals to support censorship, dogma, autocratic control over everyone’s lives, mandates, and a diminution of constitutional rights. Most Democrats today support taking away the rights of those not immunized and punishing people who refuse to wear masks. In New York State and Washington State bills have been or are being considered that would forcibly remove unvaccinated people (including kids) from their homes and imprison them in internment camps, like the concentration camps in which innocent Japanese Americans were detained in World War Two. The scientists and liberals of that day believed that Japanese had a genetic trait that made them susceptible to espionage and that they were thus a danger to society and should be locked up. A liberal Supreme Court agreed. Not long before that, in the case of Buck vs. Bell, the Supreme Court voted 8-1 to allow the sterilization of Americans deemed to be unworthy and thus a threat to the American gene pool. Almost 100,000 Americans were sterilized in the next 25 years, all against their will, all because doctors and scientists deemed them to be mentally feeble, although most were only poor and powerless and had no ability to fight back. Most of the medical community supported this as well, arguing that sterilization was a lot like a vaccination mandate; it was just a sensible and scientific way to protect society for a threat.
And here we are in 2022 doing it again, with the full endorsement of our vocal medical community, liberal politicians, and a majority of the Democratic party. Let me repeat what I said above which should shock everyone: half of Democrats support fines and prison time for simply questioning vaccination, even the vaccination of kids, in which there is no doubt that the risk of the vaccine far outweighs any possible benefit for the kids or for society. And 45% of Democrats support measures support, like is stipulated in the NY and Washington bills, removing the unvaccinated from their homes and confining them in concentration camps. How can anyone argue that we have not lapsed into a theocratic totalitarianism?
Currently leaders like Governors Newsome and Hogan have simply ignored their state constitutions in declaring Marshall Law, removing people’s rights, mandating forced medication with minimally tested potions, demanding the use of masks despite no scientific data to support it, and decimating the lives of kids who are not even vulnerable to this virus. All choice, all discussion, all reason have evaporated; it’s all about the myth and the need to clamp down society to preserve the myth. In my county, when the council voted down a mask law, the county executive simply disregarded the rule of law and reinstated it. This is the norm during the Theocracy of COVID. As CNN continues to declare that democracy is in peril—talking only about Trump and 1/6—they actively promote censorship, misinformation, and a diminution of democratic rights, declaring that any other path, any other thoughts, are dangerous and must be suppressed. To them, this is the democracy they seek to preserve.
It's very disconcerting that today liberal means anti-choice, anti-democracy, anti-science, and a strong desire to punish and censor any who don’t agree with the COVID myth. When Einstein bemoaned the rapidity with which Americans were willing to give up their rights during the McCarthy era due to a fear of communism and a fabricated threat of communists trying to take over the country, he was shocked that a nation such as this could so easily revert to Nazism, that it could abandon all that it cherishes under a cloud of manufactured fear.
He should not have been shocked. Americans were quick to toss away the democratic freedoms of people they viewed as being dangerous in the South after the Civil War, among those deemed genetically inferior in the Bell case, and among Japanese Americans during the war, among many other examples. Now, with the religion of COVID being preached on TV and by politicians and scientists, with its myths equated to an unassailable truth that can never be violated or discussed, with all who question the COVID religion being labeled as dangerous heretics and conspiracy theorists who spread misinformation and whose rights should be taken away for the good of society, we have crossed a threshold that may be difficult to reverse. We have essentially thrown away our democracy, shredded the integrity of science, and been willing to abandon all that we hold dear so as to preserve bare life.
We have taken the path of Australia, even as Sweden’s sensible policy sits before us. Power, greed, and blind compliance to religion have led us into this desert. So thick is the haze of myth in our nation that people are willing to go to any lengths, kill and silence and defame any who oppose them, just to assure that the COVID religion remains unimpeachable.
“What, in the tradition of bourgeois democracy, used to be the right to health became, seemingly without anyone noticing, a juridical-religious obligation that must be fulfilled at any cost,” Agamben says. “A society which exists in a constant state of emergency cannot be free. We live in a society that has sacrificed freedom ‘for security reasons,’ and has hence condemned itself to living in a perpetual state of fear and insecurity.” He then asks: “And what is a society that values nothing more than survival?”
Bill Maher is a liberal like me who takes his liberalism and love of democracy seriously, and thus he has spoken out against the religious-like tyranny that has taken over our nation under the guise of science and necessity. On his last show he agreed with Bari Weiss who said, especially referring to the impact of the COVID theocracy on kids: “This [pandemic] is going to be remembered by the younger generation as a catastrophic moral crime."
If the imposition of an absolutist theocracy upon our land is a moral crime against humanity, if allowing hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of Americans to suffer and die because we transformed a treatable illness into catastrophe that must be met with rituals, mandates, censorship, scientific mutilation, and unquestioning compliance rather than with compassion and science, then yes, the COVID religion will be remembered as a moral crime, because it is one. It’s not the first and won’t be the last. That’s why we have to understand how it happened so we can then all say, Never Again.
We started this blog with an article by an Israeli immunologist you can access here, which by itself is a short and fascinating read, but in the end is an indictment of the COVID myth to whose grasp on our society it is time we must all wake up. He says at the start of his profoundly moving and on-point article: “Two years late, you finally realize that a respiratory virus cannot be defeated and that any such attempt is doomed to fail. You do not admit it, because you have admitted almost no mistake in the last two years, but in retrospect it is clear that you have failed miserably in almost all of your actions, and even the media is already having a hard time covering your shame.”
Yes, many of us knew at the very start that COVID was a crisis for the old, sick, and poor, and that our sharp focus needs be there. We knew that large-scale societal closures were dangerous and would cause more deaths than lives saved. That disrupting the lives of kids, who have virtually no risk from COVID, would lead to mass depression, drug overdoses, deaths, and a generation forced to grow up scared, isolated, and fed by scientific myth that could color their worldview forever. That masks and six-foot separation and 20 second hand washing (for a virus that doesn’t even live on surfaces) and other such gimmicks lack any scientific validity and can be more harmful than helpful. We knew that the Fauci policy, one adapted by liberal leaders and voters as a way to defame President Trump, was self-destructive to people, society, science, and democracy and would lead to massive deaths, especially by discouraging early treatment and daily testing. Scott Atlas called the mythmakers out early. So too did the authors and signers of the Great Barrington Petition. And Giorgio Agamben. And Bill Maher. And so many others both liberal and conservative, who are critical thinkers and scientists, who care about people and not about selling drugs and myths that have led to copious preventable deaths and the greatest threat to democracy in a generation. Many, like me had our medical licenses threatened by merely stating truths, others were censored, kicked out of their jobs, threatened, and defamed. CNN and MSNBC led the Goebbels-like propaganda campaign that propped up the Fauci faith and took down all his dissenters, and from it came a dissolution of our democratic rights and values even as the CNN-goon squad continued to ironically call those who side with the anti-Fauci camp as The Threat to Democracy.
Was this all done, as Robert Kennedy posits, for financial gain and power? Was it done, as Scott Atlas suggests, because moronic bureaucrats ran the ship of state, and both the media and politicians used COVID-mythology and the us vs them binary for their own interests? Or has, as I and many smarter people like Agamben suggest, COVID morphed into a religion, one that now demands total obedience, one that promises preservation of bare life in exchange for people’s unimpeachable faith in its precepts?
I suppose it doesn’t matter. The truth is that we have let an historically minor pandemic completely destroy our democratic institutions, medical and scientific integrity, and any trust we can ever have in our leaders and the media. We let people take away our lives, we believed their mythical lies and willingly engaged in their mythical solutions, we promoted censorship and defamation, we let them experiment on and abuse our children, and as we did it, the most liberal and forward thinking among us, those who claim to cherish science and humanity and democracy, were the ones who orchestrated democracy’s demise. Why is no one fighting back, and what will it take for us to wake up and take on the demons that now pull our strings?
As the great thinker Foucault reminds us: “The real political task in a society such as ours is to criticize the workings of institutions that appear to be both neutral and independent, to criticize and attack them in such a manner that the political violence that has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them.”
It is time to start that fight, because once the religion of COVID becomes entrenched in our collective minds as being legitimate and necessary, once we fall prey to a mythical promise that to preserve our lives we must relinquish our freedoms, once we hand unlimited authority to those who promise us salvation in exchange for our souls, then the game will be lost, as too will our democracy. It’s time to unmask the maskers, to reveal their perfidy, and to get back on a scientific, humanistic, and democratic path.