Self-congratulations is a legitimate practice for institutions that have made the effort to go beyond the mediocre in the service of others.

However, when used without justification, users risk becoming caricatures of the less appealing traits of human nature. By this measure, “Lessons of the Pandemic” (On the Campus, March issue) was cringeworthy.

In 2021, the World Bank estimated that the lockdowns would push between 119 and 124 million into extreme poverty. According to the CDC, suicide attempts by teen-aged girls were up 51 percent in 2021 and, according to the AMA, deaths from alcoholism rose 25 percent.

And for what?

Virtually every part of the expensively promoted COVID narrative has come unraveled: the projected death rate, who was and was not at risk, the utility of cloth masks, and the purported safety and effectiveness of the vaccines just to name the most prominent. Extended school closures and forced mask wearing (the latter still going on in some U.S. preschools) have been singled out by many eminently qualified epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists as among the most pointless and destructive of the lockdown practices.

An organization of Princeton’s wealth, influence, and intellectual firepower should not be publicly patting itself on the back about how well it followed the orders of a dysfunctional and politicized “public health” apparatus. It should be asking, “How did we get this so wrong?” “How can we make sure something like this never happens again?” And most important: “What can we do to address the harm we participated in?”

Ken McCarthy ’81
Tivoli, N.Y.