Opinion: CJ Opinion

We have much fear already, so stop trying to create angst, uncertainty

An unprecedented string of storms and tornadoes devastated parts of Kentucky last year. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)
An unprecedented string of storms and tornadoes devastated parts of Kentucky last year. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)

We have so much to fear. From an innumerable list of things natural and manmade.

If that is, we choose to effectually succumb to the doubt and the uncertainty.

The mainstream media, in fact, encapsulates that fear and profits from it, driving ratings and online viewership. Niche websites, coming from all directions, do much of the same. Bad things will happen, an unfortunate inevitability of life. But we need to stop creating the problems, crises, and predicted disasters that create and perpetuate that angst. 

We, as viewers and readers, must begin to recognize government action isn’t always taken in the best interests of citizens and residents, that politics and personal priorities typically reign. That the idea of “straight,” non-biased journalism is, most optimistically, a relic, and, most honestly, an ancient myth. 

The goal for a handful of newspapers, and even some radio, is still grounded in the commitment to serve readers and to advance a particular community. Maybe, but it’s always been more about profit, whether by selling ads or gaining readers, and that’s all perfectly fine — preferred, even — as long as we recognize it as such. Stories can be told in myriad ways and from myriad angles, through selected sources and strategic edits, from a decidedly human perspective and a common narrative. 

The Wall Street Journal, in a year-end editorial, wrote of shared political values, of media consensus, and of egregious and irreparable mistakes. 

Take COVID. As media outlets such as WSJ, Reason magazine, and, yes, Carolina Journal, called for pragmatism and thoughtful debate, progressive entities both local and national — we know who they are — collectively screamed at us to duck for cover from a falling sky.

There was no fiercer consensus in the early days of the virus than the belief that locking down the economy to stop the virus was an unadulterated social good,” WSJ writes. “We felt the consensus wrath when we raised doubts, in an editorial on March 20, 2020, about the harm that lockdowns would do to the economy and public health.

“Two years later we now know that lockdowns at most delay the virus spread. The damage in lost education for children, lost livelihoods for workers and employers, and damage to mental health is obvious for all to see.”

From reporters and researchers, CJ and the John Locke Foundation offered the same reasoning, incessant yet fact-based and intelligent. But the emergence of Omicron — which COVID studies and health experts are finding more infectious than previous variants but less virulent — gives politicians and media another chance to lead us to the edge of panic. 

Our focus with COVID all along should have coalesced around protecting those most vulnerable to becoming seriously ill or dying of the virus while at the same time working toward nurturing herd immunity. 

Instead, politicians prefer to backstep toward the types of onerous lockdowns and suppressions enacted some two years ago at the start of the pandemic, bankrupting businesses and destroying a global economy that, in many ways, is still in freefall.

That slight headache and annoying sniffle now keep essential workers home, away from their jobs in hospitals, on airlines, and in schools.

In Chicago on Wednesday the teachers’ union endorsed a plan to refuse to work in person until extra COVID-19 safety measures are in place, the Chicago Tribune reported. In response, district officials canceled classes. Expect more unions to follow suit. Make no mistake, employee unions, which at one time may have held a noble purpose, have for some time now mostly existed to pad the wallets of top-level union officials and push a leftist political agenda, regardless of whatever rhetoric they extoll about equity and workers’ rights.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who’s dealing with enough problems as it is, worried about parents who can’t afford child care, whose children are struggling already — a struggle exacerbated by the lockdowns and closures of 2020 and beyond.

“We need to lean in to the science and the data and not push that to the side and give in to fear-mongering and hysteria,” Lightfoot said, according to the Tribune.

Gov. Roy Cooper, no stranger to my criticism here, acknowledged Tuesday the virus is here to stay, and he should get credit for eschewing ridiculous questions from so-called media members about enacted mask mandates and the like. 

Enough already about protecting us and keeping us safe. That’s entirely up to us;  in that regard, there’s only so much we can do, anyway.

On Dec. 12 of last year, my wife and I awoke in Bardstown, Kentucky, to news of horrific storms and tornadoes the night before, devastating all in their paths. Mayfield, a town some 200 miles to the southwest of Bardstown, all but disappeared. About 100 people were killed, in Kentucky alone.

Try telling their families — and the survivors — about a coming crisis, whether that be the next pandemic, an attack on our democracy, or climate change.

Tell them to stay safe and to follow the rules.

Tell them about the fragility of life.

John Trump is managing editor of Carolina Journal.