Four years after an unprecedent assault on Americans’ fundamental freedoms, some important truths are finally emerging into plain sight.

Under questioning on Capitol Hill, Dr. Anthony Fauci was forced to concede:

– That the rule requiring six feet of “social distancing” was not based on science (unless a high-school science project qualifies).

– That vaccines did not provide a lasting defense against Covid (thus the need for one booster after another), nor did they prevent transmission.

Nevertheless, the irrepressible Dr. Fauci insists: “People that refuse to get vaccinated for any variety of reasons [were] probably responsible for an additional 200,000 to 300,000 deaths in this country.” The logic of that claim is difficult to see, in light of the above concessions. Yet the Fauci narrative endures.

Still the defensive wall surrounding that narrative is showing its cracks. As the Congressional hearings continued, reporters noticed that Fauci’s colleagues were using private email accounts for office correspondence, to shield sensitive (that is, potentially damaging) information from public view. And what sort of information was that? Well, information about the “gain of function” research being done at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, with financial support from Fauci’s office.

So suggestions that were dismissed abruptly as dangerous conspiracy theories in 2020 are now gaining broader acceptance. Such as:

– that the Covid virus was man-made, and the epidemic was caused by a lab leak in Wuhan;

– that federal bureaucrats carefully suppressed information: about the origin of the virus, about the ineffectiveness of masks and social distancing, about the fatality rate and the relative immunity of children, about the side effects of the vaccine,

– that the vaccines have serious side effects, which may explain the otherwise puzzling surge in “excess deaths” in subsequent years.

For months we were exhorted to “trust the science.” Now it is abundantly clear that the “science” with which the American people were presented was not immunology or virology. If that “science” were given its own name, the appropriate name would be “Anthony Fauci.”

Real science involves testing every hypothesis, double-checking every result, welcoming any new information, encouraging free discussion of alternative explanations for the phenomena under study. One friendly physician relates that in the early days of his medical career, which coincided with the emergence of the AIDS epidemic, hospital administrators and public-health officials urged all health-care practitioners to make suggestions, to offer ideas, to speculate about the causes of the disease and potential remedies. With the Covid epidemic, my friend tells me, the message from on high was very different: Do what you’re told, follow the experts’ guidance, don’t ask questions. But asking questions — and rigorously testing the answers that are offered — is the essence of the scientific method.

The point that emerges from the Congressional hearings is that despite their protestations, the federal officials charged with handling the Covid epidemic did not trust science. Instead they put their faith in a political process: the process of controlling public opinion and public (and even private) behavior.

The result of that approach was an astonishing surge in the power of government over the lives of American citizens. Public officials (some elected, some not) took it upon themselves to tell individuals when they could open their shops or even leave their homes, what they must wear on their faces, what medicines they must take—and to levy penalties on those who resisted. It is important to note, too, that this dramatic exercise of government authority was not a result of any partisan campaign; with few exceptions, Democrats and Republicans alike supported the Fauci narrative, the drive for mask-wearing and social distancing and (almost) mandatory vaccination. Even more remarkable, the most aggressive policies were implemented without new legislation, and thus without public debate, without the informed consent of the people and/or their elected representatives.

So it was that we were told we could not go to church, we could not visit our relatives and friends, we could not open our schools, we could not let our children play with their friends. The emergency mandates carried the force of law, but not the consent of the governed. They were imposed in the name of science, but by officials who rejected the scientific method.

During the Covid lockdown our society saw a breakdown in the understanding of civil liberties, the understanding of the democratic process, the understanding of scientific inquiry. And if we don’t learn from the disaster, it could all happen again.

By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture