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The protesters have brought down the lockdown

We’re not allowed to go to weddings or funerals, but it’s perfectly acceptable to attend mass rallies

June 11, 2020

3:58 PM

11 June 2020

3:58 PM

I wasn’t surprised to see that a woman whose father died at a care home in Oxfordshire in April has decided to take legal action against the British government. If I had an elderly relative in a nursing home whom I hadn’t been able to visit in the last months of his life because of the lockdown, I too would be angry. And I can imagine that anger turning into incandescent rage as I watched pictures of the Black Lives Matter protests on the nightly news. Why are police officers, who were so zealous about enforcing the social distancing rules until last week, now getting down on one knee to genuflect before the protesters? Why is Sadiq Khan, who has been urging Londoners to remain in their homes to suppress the spread of the virus, now expressing his solidarity with the progressive activists thronging Whitehall and Hyde Park in their tens of thousands?

As a lockdown skeptic, I’m actually grateful to the protesters. For months, I’ve been blogging away at lockdownsceptics.org, pointing out that the public health argument for suspending our liberties on a scale never seen before, even in wartime, doesn’t hold water. But the case against lockdowns is often quite technical and so doesn’t have much cut-through with the general public.

I’ve written thousands of words on why I think the infection fatality rate of SARS-CoV-2 has been over-estimated and the virus is likely to kill fewer people worldwide than seasonal flu did in 2017-18. I’ve published an article by an ex-Google software engineer criticizing the code used in the apocalyptic Imperial College computer model that spooked Boris Johnson into imposing a full lockdown. I’ve even published two lengthy papers by Mikko Paunio, an adjunct professor in general epidemiology at the University of Helsinki, pouring scorn on the World Health Organization’s dire warnings about the disease and claiming that the populations of many large cities, including London, are close to herd immunity.


But while some of these arguments have been taken up by other journalists, none of them have moved the dial. The British public have remained stubbornly attached to their own confinement. Until now, that is. Many of the same politicians, public health panjandrums and celebrities who’ve been telling us that if we emerge from under our beds we risk a ‘second spike’ and ‘all our sacrifices will have been for nothing’ are now enthusiastically endorsing the protests. That’s quite incredible, given that almost 150,000 people across the UK have participated in them so far and that number will probably swell by tens of thousands by the end of the weekend.

How can it be that the virus poses such a grave threat to public health that we’re not allowed to hold weddings, attend funerals or send our kids to school, but it’s perfectly acceptable to attend mass rallies to protest about the killing of a man 4,000 miles away? Why are the same progressive journalists who were so indignant about Dominic Cummings driving 260 miles to Durham with his sick wife and child now publishing handy guides to attending the nearest demo?

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I think the public will smell a rat. They will conclude, correctly, that ‘the science’ on which the lockdown is based is not an uncontested body of knowledge that dictates a number of unambiguous government interventions, including the insistence that people should remain two meters apart until a vaccine is available. Rather, it’s a constantly evolving hodgepodge of competing hypotheses, a few of which will be turn out to be right and most of which will be wrong. In this scientific potpourri, the ‘experts’ cherry-pick those theories that fit most closely with their ideological biases and ignore the others, which explains why they can condemn anti-lockdown protesters as ‘granny killers’ but applaud the BLM activists as brave warriors for social justice. In other words, we no longer need to take them seriously.

At bottom, insisting that the little people remain in their homes unless they had a ‘reasonable excuse’ to be outside was an opportunity for holier-than-thou elites to remind us of their role as custodians of our welfare. So, of course, that ‘scientific’ advice has now been trumped by another even bossier, even more self-righteous form of virtue-signaling — namely, anti-racist sermonizing. The fact that the two are completely at odds with each other doesn’t bother them in the slightest. Just so long as they can wag their fingers in our faces as they turn puce with rage, they’re happy.

This article was originally published in The Spectator’s UK magazine. Subscribe to the US edition here.


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