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How Jacinda Ardern and her autocratic COVID-19 measures led to academic adoration

Jeffrey TuckerThis is surely one of the strangest twists in official narratives in perhaps hundreds of years. The bad guys have been christened as the good guys, and the good guys have been purged, de-platformed, cancelled, and demonized.

It’s a turn of events none of us could have imagined back in 2020. It cries out for an explanation. I truly fear knowing the answer as to why.

Just consider the fate of former New Zealand Prime Jacinda Ardern.

She locked down her country, trampling all rights of the people under the guise of controlling the spread of a virus. You could not go to church. You could not be unmasked. You could not leave the country and return. No one could travel there without official permission.

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As bad as the United States and Europe were during this period, New Zealand was worse, and it was backed up by speech controls. Anyone protesting the policies was risking everything. And when the vaccine came along, Ardern outright said it: the people who get it will have rights, but those who do not will not. It was a new biomedical caste system.

Eventually, the country did open. Now, speakers decrying her actions are attracting audiences in the thousands, and Ardern is widely unpopular. Her successor, who continues to defend all this despotism, is under a cloud and also deeply unpopular. The tables have completely turned.

Five years ago, anyone would have supposed that a leader who acted this way would live in shame. I certainly assumed so, with Ardern’s horrific misjudgments widely decried as those of a confused tyrant. She would live out her days in disrepute, surely.

The opposite has happened. She is now the subject of celebratory biographies. She is lauded by mainstream media. Last year, she addressed the United Nations in a speech that was an open call for a new global censorship regime. True, the fact-checkers disagree with this interpretation. Instead she was merely calling out “the weaponization of free speech societies and platforms by misinformation agents.”


In any case, in my imagination, I could not have dreamed up a specimen of error and tyranny more deserving of devaluing than Jacinda Ardern. Everything she did during the COVID era flies in the face of values the West has held for almost a thousand years since the Magna Carta.

But I was wrong. Completely. I underestimated just how broken the world is. Instead of being disgraced, she is enjoying not one but two fellowships at Harvard University, where she enjoys massive prestige and adoration by faculty, staff, and students.

Are we living in the Twilight Zone? Aren’t we supposed to be against segregation, house arrest, forced medical treatments, locking people in nations, and censorship? Apparently not.

It’s not just Ardern. The whole tiny but global junta that imposed all these authoritarian policies – the Faucis of the world – seemed to be enjoying a glorious send-off by the entire establishment.

An amazing article recently ran on the New York Times op-ed page by Yoel Roth, the former chief censor of Twitter before he was summarily fired by Elon Musk. The Times let him tell his tale of woe on how oppressed and beaten down he is merely for enforcing trust and safety. He was only doing his job to stop online lies!

The Twitter Files revealed that the company was obeying government priorities and blocking and throttling content that took issue with COVID policies, questions surrounding election integrity, and vaccine effectiveness. In co-operation with federal agencies, Roth set himself up as the arbiter of truth and arguably distorted information flows based on his personal bias.

I might have expected that he, along with Arden, would quietly retire from public life, never to be heard from again. But I was wrong. Instead, Roth holds a coveted position at the University of Pennsylvania and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

For that matter, Anthony Fauci himself is enjoying a comfy sinecure at Georgetown University.

There’s a noticeable shift in the priorities of academic and elite circles, and the reasons behind it remain elusive. It’s perplexing to see previously criticized individuals and institutions now receiving praise, causing a widening chasm in public opinion. It raises eyebrows when those known for curbing freedoms and directing narratives are lauded while proponents of openness and personal rights are overshadowed.

We find ourselves at a pivotal juncture. On one hand, there’s a strong advocacy for time-honoured rights and freedoms, and on the other, a growing inclination towards monitoring and curtailing free speech.

The task before us is to identify who genuinely embodies the principles we value.

Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute and the author of thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and 10 books in five languages, most recently Liberty or Lockdown.

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