In September 2022 it finally happened. The terrible humans who run LinkedIn finally took away my access to my account, an account I had only begun using once I began writing against lockdowns for a Catholic blog called Rorate Caeli.
It is hilarious to look back at the grave delicts against the wisdom of Bill Gates that I stood accused of. Nothing which I posted was untrue. Masks still don’t work, LeBron James being placed in the NBA’s Covid protocol is still proof that it was idiotic to place religious faith in unproven mRNA shots, and it’s still true that our government conspired to spread actual misinformation while calling for the truth to be censored. Attempts to convince their Inquisition generally took this form: “If I have posted wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have posted rightly, why do you issue a strike against me?” with no actual answer ever being given.
Presumably, it was the regime’s goal that such adverse actions taken against me and others like me would convince us to let our voices go silent. The opposite occurred; mere days later my first article would appear on Brownstone. By annoying me they gave me the motivation to yell even louder.
I was reminded of this time at a recent Sunday Mass, as the Gospel contained the following command:
“Fear no one.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy
both soul and body in Gehenna (Mt 10:26-28).”
Speaking the truth loudly and clearly is an absolute moral imperative, not merely when it is safe to do so but especially when there are those who seek to silence truth. The story of 2020 is a story of many who failed to be truth-tellers because of fear of consequences, as well as others who worked especially hard to create that fear.
Tragedy: Those who Know the Truth Go Silent
It is perhaps not fair to focus in on one doctor in particular, but the online presence of Dr. Chris Centeno was immediately instructive to me that what was going on in March of 2020 was very dark and contrary to truth-telling.
Dr. Centeno was one of the earliest voices urging calm based upon solid analysis of the data at hand. He authored a series of blog posts where he urged against panic, as this virus was primarily a risk to the old and sick and the media was wildly lying about the fatality rate of infection by using the case fatality rate. In his blog entry on March 10th, he wrote:
I have to say, that after being a doctor for 31 years, I’m not sure that I’ve seen anything quite like this level of abject panic regarding a respiratory virus in my career. While this is a bad bug that can overwhelm health systems and should be taken seriously, the misinformation is spinning out of control. Again, if you focus on the actual hard data, it paints a different picture.
As of this morning, we have just over 4,000 deaths worldwide. Again, the average seasonal flu kills between 291,000 to 646,000 people worldwide each year (15). The CDC just announced that the US had 20,000 flu deaths this season with 350,000 hospitalizations (16). Today, on average, 48,219 people will die of cardiac disease (17).
So why the abject panic? It’s being fueled by some in the media. As I’ll show below, when you have trusted names like Sanjay Gupta fanning the flames of fear rather than correctly interpreting data, you can see why people are so freaked.
Something then inexplicable happened. Two days later he edited his blog entry by adding the following at the top:
[This post was updated on 3/12/20. This is NOT the most recent blog in this series. My current thinking on this issue is better reflected by the Dan Bongino interview in Episode 4 or Episode 5 which covers the urgent need for us to begin to take steps to avoid the overload of our health systems. Meaning while the opinions expressed in this blog are still backed by data, the catch is that to have lower mortality rates we need to shut down our society due to our lack of ability to test for the coronavirus at scale as of the week ending 3/13/20.].
How did we go from “Don’t panic!” to “Shut down society!” in two days? This cannot be explained without reference to fear. Perhaps it was fear of the opinions of others. Perhaps it was fear of the consequences of standing alone. Either way, fear overrode truth. As further evidence of this, the entire original blog post was scrubbed and quietly replaced at some point prior to May 25th with a much more subdued tone and showing complete deference to the CDC and WHO. At another point, perhaps in late 2021 or in 2022 the blog post was removed completely.
The exact how and why in the single case is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the narrative was considered sacrosanct, and in many, many cases throughout the West those who knew better decided that it wasn’t worth the risk to speak out.
To quote the memoir about life in the USSR, A Mountain of Crumbs, “The rules are simple: they lie to us, we know they’re lying, they know we know they’re lying but they keep lying anyway, and we keep pretending to believe them.”
Our civilization, beginning with political correctness and ending in wokeness, has been moving in this direction for decades. The explicit censorship from above as well as the self-censorship of social taboo that we saw in 2020 may have represented an acceleration of the phenomenon, but in 1990 George Carlin was mocking the use of “soft language” as a means by which Americans protect themselves from the truth, going as far as to say that “smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins.” One thinks of how words like man, woman, and vaccine have been redefined in the course of just a few years.
“Truth is Treason in an Empire of Lies” – Orwell
Consider the following data points:
- Students are taught that “words are violence.”
- Somehow, “Silence is also violence.”
- True statements about lockdowns, masks, and mRNA “vaccines” were banned on social media under the same rules that forbade users from encouraging suicide.
- Any discussion about election integrity became a “threat to democracy.”
- Similarly, any criticism of the Department of Justice “constitutes an attack on an institution that is essential to American democracy.”
- Our government attempted to establish a Disinformation Governance Board as a matter of homeland security.
- Dr. Jordan Peterson is vilified, primarily because his motto of “Tell the Truth – Or At Least, Don’t Lie” is considered a threat, as it requires one to blaspheme against obviously absurd doctrines of the work cult, especially regarding gender ideology.
- Google has actively interfered in the Democratic primary for President of the United States by removing an interview from YouTube which Dr. Peterson conducted with one of the leading candidates, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., because he said things they didn’t like.
- Fox News wants Tucker Carlson completely silenced, refusing to air his wildly successful show while also threatening him that he should not even speak into a camera and post for free on Twitter. His primary crime appears to be attempting to describe the truth honestly as he sees it.
The traditional Western idea of truth is that truth is objective and therefore knowable by everyone, even if it is often difficult to arrive at. There was a firm belief in the Middle Ages that rigorous disputation was a sure means of instruction in the truth; only through knowing counter arguments clearly and precisely can one be firmly grounded in the truth of a given statement. What we have had for decades, if not the entirety of our lifetimes, is something different entirely. To use the vocabulary of 1984, all that is left is doublethink and duckspeak.
Truth Matters More than Anything
“In order to live a good life you have to place truth above everything else, so that you don’t fear speaking the truth even if the truth harms you as you speak.” -Leo Tolstoy
The remnant of Western Civilization ultimately has a truth problem. On one side we have the fairy tale of happy pluralism that there is nothing substantive worth debating regarding the philosophical underpinnings of society. On the other side, there is the persistent temptation to either flirt with or fully embrace authoritarianism as a shortcut to suppress the conflict that is necessary to really arrive at truth.
The very future of our society requires people who are dedicated to truth and, as a consequence, “fear no one.” Note this solution (and it is the only one) is not clean but rather very messy. For example, we authors at Brownstone have very divergent ideas regarding philosophy, politics, and religion. What unites us is hatred of the lies told in service of a regime that strives to make it impossible to think or speak. The ability to debate and to say what one means is a precondition of a society that seeks truth.
My own personal example of such boldness in service of the truth is St. Catherine of Siena. (I got to celebrate Mass at the altar behind her head in Siena on my 10th anniversary of ordination). Such a woman, who could challenge Pope Gregory XI to man up and be the father, shepherd, and vicar who ignores the cowards in the “deep state” of the Church and moves the papacy back to Rome! This bold woman gives the following advice: “Be silent no more! Cry out with one hundred thousand tongues. I see that, because of this silence, the world is in ruins…”
We see small glimpses of the power that crying out has. Just ask the former marketing team for Bud Light. The emperor indeed has no clothes on, and vocal and loud opposition that has renounced fear can, in a moment, rob any regime of its power over thought and speech. Just a whistleblower or two can take down an entire bureaucracy. Truth-telling, regardless of the cost or consequences, is the only way forward.
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