Why lockdown’s a lifestyle and other commentary

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Pandemic journal: Why Lockdown’s a Lifestyle

“The culture of fear has made a lifetime of quarantine look attractive,” laments Frank Furedi at Spiked. The “systematic promotion of scaremongering by officialdom and the media” during the pandemic wouldn’t have worked without fear’s half-century of domination in Western culture and safety “already being treated as a supreme value” for which it’s “worth sacrificing virtually all aspects of societal life.” They’re turning lockdowns “into something approaching a permanent state. Policymakers and commentators talk of ‘the new normal’ — a post-pandemic world in which freedoms and customs we once took for granted are no more” — and there’s “growing, fatalistic acceptance” from the public. But “the valorization of safety threatens our freedom.”

Gadfly: When Reporters Stick by Fake News

Several media outlets, using anonymous sources, falsely reported the FBI met with Rudy Giuliani in 2019 to warn him of a Russian disinformation campaign. They’ve retracted that claim, but Glenn Greenwald finds that “dozens of journalists for NBC News, MSNBC, CNN and The Washington Post — the very outlets that purported to ‘confirm’ the false story — as well as activists and scholars who purport to combat ‘disinformation,’ spread it all over Twitter and, days later, have left it up,” while “not even telling their followers that the story was false.” He reached out to several, urging them to take the falsehood down, but: “Only one — NBC White House Correspondent Geoff Bennett — responded. He did so by blocking me on Twitter, while leaving the false tweet up, uncorrected.” In short, the “journalist is well aware that he lied to close to 200,000 followers” and “is knowingly spreading Fake News.”

Foreign desk: US Should Push Freedom in Iran

“Democrats and Republicans alike now largely agree” any new nuclear agreement with Iran “must address Tehran’s ballistic missiles and its suspect regional activities,” but usually missing is “any serious consideration of Iran’s human-rights record,” worries Ray Takeyh at The Wall Street Journal. The “most consequential victims of the theocratic regime are its own citizens, and their plight shouldn’t be ignored.” Iran “is at an impasse, unwilling to reform but unable to meet the demands of the Iranian people without doing so.” America has a chance to “protect and amplify” the civil-society activists acting as the “intellectual foundation for the protest movements.” In any deal, “the Islamic Republic’s access to international markets should be contingent on its improved treatment of its citizens.”

From the left: Joe Is Bernie in Centrist Clothing

Although President Biden is “a lifelong political pragmatist and centrist who’d spent most of his nearly 50-year career irritating left-wing Democrats,” the policies he’s proposed as president mirror those championed by Bernie Sanders, points out progressive Will Bunch at The Philadelphia Inquirer. Only Biden “could convince a majority of Americans” that far-left policies, “paid for by new taxes on corporations and the super-rich,” are needed. Proposed by “avowed socialist” Sanders, they “would have been beaten down.” But “centrist” Biden has been able to deliver “maybe 75 percent” of the “Bernie Sanders presidency that we’ll never see.”

Culture critic: Bring Back Beauty

While “the art establishment has abandoned art for political attitudinizing,” we can begin “a movement of recuperation,” urges Roger Kimball at Spectator USA. Let’s recognize “that art need not be adversarial or ‘transgressive’ in order to be good or important.” What “the art world” lacks today “is an allegiance to beauty.” Art without beauty used to be, “if not exactly a contradiction in terms, at least a description of failed art.” Now much art instead “seeks to shock, discommode, repulse, proselytize or startle.” But Dostoevsky was right when he wrote, “Beauty is the battlefield on which God and the devil war for man’s soul.” Beauty, says Kimball, “speaks with such great immediacy because it touches something deep within us.” It “delivers us, if but momentarily, from the poverty and incompleteness of everyday life.”

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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