EVEN GLENN GREENWALD IS POINTING THIS OUT: The Abrupt, Radical Reversal in How Public Health Experts Now Speak About the Coronavirus and Mass Gatherings.
What has changed — dramatically, radically and abruptly — is the messaging from public health experts and even public officials about the virus. Beginning roughly two weeks ago, we all watched as mass stay-at-home orders and self-isolation gave way to massive street protests, where tens or hundreds of thousands of people gathered together in the U.S. and around the world, often one on top of the other, chanting, yelling and singing: a virtual laboratory for what we had spent four months hearing was exactly what one must not do in the middle of this pandemic. . . .
Examples of this are too abundant to list here (today’s SYSTEM UPDATE episode covers many of them). New Jersey’s Gov. Phil Murphy condemned anti-lockdown protests just last month, righteously announcing that public health rather than protests will guide the state’s quarantine policies; then last week, after George Floyd’s killing, Murphy praised the massive anti-police-brutality protests in his state without even attempting to reconcile that with his prior stay-at-home messaging; then, last week while he praised these protests, he extended his “public health emergency” order for 30 more days out of fear of what he called “a new outbreak of #COVID19″ — and he did all of this while maintaining his “STAY AT HOME” banner on the top of his Twitter page where he issued all of these conflicting directives. . . .
’ve been a vocal supporter of these protests from their start, including their occasional use of civil disobedience and targeted property damage. My views of the protests (as distinct from the some of the repressive debate-denying tactics that have sprouted up around them) have not changed; I remain an enthusiastic supporter on the ground that we simply cannot tolerate any longer an unaccountable, paramilitarized police force that kills with impunity, especially when aimed disproportionately at African Americans and Latinos.
But what we should not tolerate, and what the scientific community cannot permit if it is to retain its credibility, is the abuse and manipulation of health expertise for political ends. One of two things is true; either 1) these protests will lead to a significant spike in coronavirus infections and deaths, in which case public health experts should reconcile that outcome with how they could have encouraged and endorsed them; or 2) it will not lead to such a spike, in which case it will appear that the months of extreme, draconian lockdowns — which caused great suffering and deprivation around the world — were excessive, misguided and unwarranted.
One way or another, I think the credibility ship has sailed.
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