In the United States, some 2,000,000 people—over 1% of adult men—currently reside in prisons and jails. In America’s poorest cities, crime and law enforcement are intertwined with life to such a degree that many children grow up more familiar with the justice system than the education system. For kids who grow up in these circumstances, getting through school while staying out of jail is a feat worth celebrating.
Some of this is, of course, necessary to maintain a peaceful society in a country as open and unequal as the United States. But the American political-prison-industrial complex is also riddled with perverse incentives. As Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch put it: “We live in a world in which everything has been criminalized. And some professors have even opined that there’s not an American alive who hasn’t committed a felony under some state law.” We’ve even developed an Orwellian lexicon for this system; the term “crime of moral turpitude” is a tacit admission that America’s statutes are riddled with crimes that do not actually involve “moral turpitude”—it’s puzzling why these should be considered crimes at all.
Worse yet, an estimated 5% of convicts are actually innocent. That means there are currently some 100,000 Americans in prisons and jails who didn’t even commit the crimes for which they were charged. The sad truth is that just living in one of America’s poorest neighborhoods comes with some risk of incarceration; the more people around who are convicted, the greater the odds of becoming an innocent convict oneself. Juries do their best, but they’re beset by the usual human biases. Judges know all too well that verdicts often come down to such irrelevant factors as the defendant’s charisma, physical attractiveness, or even what the jury had for breakfast that morning.
Mass incarceration is one sad byproduct of inequality and community deterioration in the 21st century. But an even worse byproduct of that inequality is an entire caste of Western elites who’ve begun to manipulate the system to exempt themselves and their supporters from the rule of law to a degree not seen since the rise of the fascist regimes of the 1930s. And in no instance has this been made more clear than in the promulgation of Covid lockdowns into policy in early 2020.
Lockdowns, or the shutting of businesses and community spaces with the force of law, were unprecedented in the Western world prior to Xi Jinping’s lockdown of Wuhan and weren’t part of any democratic country’s pandemic plan; rather, these pandemic plans suggested only voluntary social distancing measures. While lockdowns bore some facial resemblance to the voluntary social distancing measures contemplated in pandemic plans, this similarity was no coincidence, as the concept of “social distancing” in its origin was lifted by the US CDC straight from the Chinese Communist Party policy of “lockdown” as imposed during SARS in 2003. Further, some leading federal officials have disclosed that at the time they recommended temporary social distancing measures for Covid, they did so with the intent that state governors would enforce them as indefinite forced lockdowns.
As former UN Assistant Secretary-General Ramesh Thakur has documented in scrupulous detail, the harms that lockdowns would cause were all well-known and reported at the time they were first adopted as policy in early 2020. These included accurate estimates of mass deaths due to delayed medical operations, a mental health crisis, drug overdoses, an economic recession, global poverty, hunger, and starvation.
Yet regardless, for reasons we’re still only beginning to understand, some key scientists, health officials, national security officials, media entities, international organizations, billionaires and influencers advocated the broad imposition of these unprecedented, devastating policies from the earliest possible date, ostensibly to stop or slow the coronavirus as the CCP claims to have done in Wuhan, while censoring any contrary opinions, spinning a false illusion of consensus amongst an unknowing public. A report later revealed that military leaders saw this as a unique opportunity to test propaganda techniques on the public, shaping and “exploiting” information to bolster government messages about the virus. Dissenting scientists were silenced. Psyops teams deployed fear campaigns on their own people in a scorched-earth campaign to drive consent for lockdowns.
These early advocates of lockdowns inverted the definitions of key public health principles in sophisticated, Orwellian fashion. While the lockdowns they advocated were deliberately intended to overturn existing public health practices, they instructed the public to “follow the science,” leading the public to believe that their policies were grounded in established scientific practice. They used the rhetoric of equity and vulnerability to advocate policies that disproportionately harmed the most vulnerable and increased existing economic divides. They then retroactively cited the broad public support for lockdowns that had been sown by their own propaganda as justification for their propaganda in support of those lockdowns.
Ultimately, these lockdowns failed to meaningfully slow the spread of the coronavirus and killed tens of thousands of young people in every country in which they were tried. We now know the virus had already begun spreading undetected all over the world by fall 2019 at the latest and had an infection fatality rate under 0.2%.
However, the lockdowns caused the public to believe that the virus was hundreds of times deadlier than it really was. Simultaneously, the World Health Organization issued global PCR testing guidance—using tests later confirmed by the New York Times to have a false positive rate over 85%—pursuant to which millions of cases were soon discovered in every country. Additionally, the WHO issued new guidance on the use of mechanical ventilators to member nations; over 97% of those over age 65 who received mechanical ventilation in accordance with this guidance were killed.
Terrified by this surge of deaths and the psychological terror campaigns deployed by governments on their own people, populations across the Western world proceeded to impose an ever-darker swathe of illiberal mandates including forced masking and digital vaccine passes for everyday activities. Young children, who were at virtually no risk from the virus, lost years of primary education in the worst education crisis since the end of the Second World War. An indefinite state of legal emergency was imposed which continues to this day. The global fight for human rights and the end of poverty was set back decades.
Over $3 trillion in wealth was transferred from the world’s poorest to a tiny number of billionaires and their supporters, predominantly in China and in the tech and pharmaceutical industries. Several key early lockdown proponents indicated that they saw Covid as an opportunity to “entrench a new idea of the left … reconstructing a cultural hegemony on a new basis.” Authoritarian regimes grew more autocratic, and democratic governments took on authoritarian characteristics.
Worst of all, a norm was grafted onto Western democracy that the fundamental rights to movement, work, association, bodily autonomy, and free expression, for which our forebears fought so tirelessly, can be suddenly and indefinitely suspended, without precedent, analysis, or logic, based on nothing but vague promises that doing so will “save lives”—rendering them all but moot.
Meanwhile, the lockdowns and mandates led to the deaths of over 170,000 Americans and proportionate numbers in countries that imposed them across the Western world. By 2021, lockdowns had killed over 228,000 children in South Asia. Studies of excess deaths indicate that lockdowns led to several million deaths in India and proportionate numbers in other developing nations.
A million here, a million there, pretty soon you’re talking real atrocities.
These numbers do not even begin to count the total damage that will ultimately ensue due to the economic devastation of lockdowns, which we will continue to witness for many years to come. Many early lockdown proponents may never be among the 2,000,000 Americans currently residing in jails and prisons, but we can be sure that thousands more would-be innocent children will one day be added to the prison rolls as a result of the economic destruction their policies unleashed.
Ladies and gentlemen, this case ultimately comes down to whether, unlike the other 2,000,000 Americans currently in state custody, we can be sure that by virtue of their socioeconomic position and the panic over a virus which panic they deliberately stoked with their own policies, this handful of key early lockdown proponents acted in good faith when they convinced the world to adopt these unprecedented, catastrophic policies based on the belief that China eliminated the virus from an entire country by shutting down one city for two months—so sure that the question demands no further inquiry. I leave that for you to decide.
Reprinted from the author’s Substack