“Senator Tom Cotton Repeats Fringe Theory of Coronavirus Origins,” lamented the Times, before accusing Cotton of contributing to an “infodemic.”
“Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked,” explained the Post, which later issued issued a correction that still characterized the theory as “fringe.”
The Daily Beast declared that he was promoting a “Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory Dismissed by Actual Scientists.”
Tom Nichols, a cable news “conservative” who has since been rewarded with a staff writer position at The Atlantic, approached Cotton’s comments even more scornfully. When Cotton pointed out to detractors that he had not said that the virus had originally been developed as a bioweapon by the Chinese government, and that there were several hypotheses worth exploring, Nichols responded by calling it an example of “why arguing with a conspiracy theorist rarely goes well.”
“It gives the person advancing the theory to keep repeating it ‘just as a hypothesis,’ as Cotton does here. Every time you ask him, he’ll repeat it, say it’s unlikely, and then say he’s just asking questions,” continued Nichols. One might wonder if such questions are worth being asked — especially by the press. But Nichols left that to Cotton, instead opting to mock the senator for doing so.
Anne Applebaum, also a staff writer for The Atlantic as well as a member of the advisory panel for the Global Disinformation Index, compared Cotton’s comments to those of “Soviet propagandists who tried to convince the world that the CIA invented AIDS.”
In 2020, thanks to her attacks on Cotton (who was on his way to owning the New York Times that summer), the author of the 2003 book Gulag: A History was now receiving compliments from people who are very, very much pro-gulag:
In October of 2020, David P. Goldman, aka “Spengler” explored “Anne Applebaum’s Pride and Prejudice:”
Boris Johnson a crypto-fascist? Who but the overwrought Ms. Applebaum noticed! She would have a pint at the pub with Johnson when she was Deputy Editor of the Spectator and he was Mayor of London, but since then she has discovered that the Prime Minister is a liar, a home-wrecking philanderer, and a budding authoritarian due to Applebaum’s opposition to Brexit. She claims that the rising fascists of the British Isles duped their compatriots into voting Leave by lying about money that might be saved for the National Health Service.
This account of Brexit, like everything else in the book, is utterly mendacious. Whatever one thinks of the “Leave” party’s case, Britain faced an authentic crisis over European Community-mandated immigration. Applebaum does not mention that Britain was inundated by 300,000 Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants after those impoverished countries joined the EC in 2014, nor that Britain petitioned the EC in vain for relief from mass immigration. Democracy appeals to Applebaum only when people vote the way she thinks they should. In a textbook example of what William Empson called unintended irony, she champions the imperious, unelected bureaucracy of the European Community as the savior of democracy against alleged authoritarians who won a popular plebescite by a margin of 52 to 48 percent.
Leo Strauss ridiculed the sort of polemical caricature he dubbed reductio ad Hitlerum, and if it is possible to write a caricature of a caricature, Applebaum has managed it. She trots out Hannah Arendt’s idea of the “authoritarian personality,” that is a lonely individual who “without any other social ties to family, friends, comrades or even mere acquaintances, derives his sense of having a place in the world only from his belonging to a movement, his membership in the party.’” Along with Arendt, Applebaum quotes the Marxist critic Theodor Adorno, who claimed that a bias towards authoritarianism stemmed from such personality traits as repressed homosexuality. Whether one takes Arendt and Adorno seriously or not, when they used the term “authoritarian personality” they meant to reference actual supporters of Hitler and Stalin who murdered tens of millions of people.
Applebaum then substitutes the qualifier “illiberal” for “authoritarian,” expecting the reader to assume that they are the same thing. If that sounds incoherent, it is not my fault. What she means by an “illiberal” is someone who “wants to undermine courts in order to give himself more power.” This refers to Poland’s Law and Justice Party, which denied her husband Radek Sikorski a hoped-for ministerial position by the nefarious means of winning a popular election. The reader is expected to make the leap from Polish judicial reform to death camps.
Fortunately, by the following year, Applebaum was finally able to right the ship, and once again spot a true totalitarian bent on world domination:
As Robert Shibley quipped at Instapundit on July 30th, 2021, “If This is True, ‘Democracy’ Deserves it.”
by Ed Driscoll
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