by Victor Davis Hanson
Throughout the Trump years and in particular during the 2020 COVID pandemic crisis, the nation was lectured by the Left “to follow the data,” as the Democrats proclaimed themselves the “party of science.” As sober and judicious children of the enlightenment, they alone offered the necessary disinterested correctives to Trump’s supposed bluster and exaggeration—and to his anti-scientific deplorable following (often dismissed by Biden as dregs, chumps, and Neanderthals).
In truth, leftists and Democrats have become the purveyors of superstition. Their creation of a fantasy world is not because they do not believe in science per se, but because they believe more in the primacy of ideology that should shape and warp science in the proper fashion for the greater good. What prompted Paul Ehrlich, Al Gore, or Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) hysterically and wrongly to forecast widespread demographic or climatological catastrophe in just a few years was not ignorance of science per se, but a desire to massage science for our own good.
The Godheads of COVID-19
The medical pandemic godhead of the Left has been octogenarian Dr. Anthony Fauci. His twin chief public relations explainer has been liberal darling New York governor Andrew Cuomo. Both were always supposed to be on top of “the science.”
Dr. Fauci has not just been flat-out wrong on the science of COVID—in his assessments of the origins and possible dangers of COVID-19, of when we can get back to normal, of when the vaccinations would appear, and of which particular governors have been doing the most or least effective management of the disease. He has also, by his own admission, deliberately lied.
That is, Fauci has rejected science, as he knew it, to mislead the public. For our own interests, he adopted the Platonic “noble lie” on occasion. So, for example, he conceded that he had downplayed the value of masks (he now seems to approve of wearing one on top of another) in order to prevent too many wearing them, and thus the public shorting the supply available to more important health care workers.
Fauci also proverbially moved the goal posts on herd immunity, from the high 60s to the low 90s as a percent of the population, either vaccinated or with antibodies, necessary to achieve a de facto end of the pandemic. Again, Fauci defied the science on the theory he knew better, in assuming that the childish public would become too lax when and if it believed herd immunity was on the horizon.
Unspoken, is that Fauci usually errs on the side of what is deemed progressive orthodoxy. In contrast, Dr. Scott Atlas warned us that extended and complete lockdowns in any cost-benefit analyses might well inflict more human and economic damage than the virus. And he added that an opened-up Florida and Texas might do no worse virally than a locked-down California or New York, while avoiding the severe recessionary collateral damage.
Yet Atlas was damned for “not following the science” for the crime of working for Trump and for following the science: while targeted wearing of masks and social distancing and quarantining of vulnerable populations are necessary, complete quarantines of the entire population and extended closing schools are counterproductive.
Little need be said of Cuomo other than the applicable Roman dictum he created a desert and called it peace. When the federal government delivered a tent-hospital and a huge hospital ship, they went unused. When it sent ventilators, Cuomo raged that they were too little, too late.
When his own record in New York of COVID mismanagement became public (currently over 2,500 deaths per million population, the second highest state in the nation and about 35-40 percent higher than the open, but hated Texas and Florida), he lied about his own redirection of COVID patients into pristine long-term care facilities that resulted in a proverbial bloodbath.
In his adherence to science, Cuomo received an Emmy for his narcissistic press conferences and adeptness at blame-gaming. That he was brought low not by his lethal politicking, but by serial allegations of being rude and handsy with female staffers suggests that his unscientific approaches to the pandemic were of little concern to his “scientific” supporters.
The “Science” of Quarantines
Consider another scientific debacle. In the midst of the quarantine, when governors and mayors were threatening to jail any who violated social distancing, mask wearing, or assembling en mass outdoors, hundreds of thousands hit the nation’s streets in crowded phalanxes of screaming and saliva-projecting protestors—all supposedly in violation of “the science” of epidemiology and public health.
The reaction of our elected officials—not just silence but open approbation—is to be expected, given the political class is so often timid and simply genuflects to perceived voter pressure groups. But “the science” on spec also came to the rescue of the quarantine violators to offer pseudo-scientific support for violating government-mandated “data”-driven policies.
Over 1,200 healthcare officials weighed in with their “expertise” and postmodern gibberish to defend mass violations of quarantine rules: “Instead, we wanted to present a narrative that prioritizes opposition to racism as vital to the public health, including the epidemic response.”
And the experts added all sort of postmodern hedging to emphasize that their recalibrated woke “science” was now different than others’ less woke “science”:
However, as public-health advocates, we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States.
So in Animal Farm terms, some protests “are more in violation than others.” In a more historical vein, we might imagine these “experts” at another time and place, joining the chorus of scientists praising the agronomic genius of Joseph Stalin, whose “brilliant” and “scientific” irrigation fantasies began the destruction of the Aral Sea. In any case, millions decided why stay indoors when millions of others hit the streets to protest, loot, burn, destroy, and injure—with the sanction of our experts.
Non Compos Mentis
The Left hammered the 74-year-old overweight Trump about his supposedly iffy health. They brought in a Yale psychiatrist, Dr. Bandy X. Lee, to testify about his incapacity to Congress. There and in op-eds, she offered a pseudo-scientific assessment of debility (e.g., “I and hundreds of mental health professionals are available and eager to assist with any or all these efforts”). Yes, and unethically so, without ever having examined the patient in question.
According to Lee, Trump was mentally impaired, a sociopath, and needed an “intervention,” a serious medical diagnosis that soon became a “scientific” grounding for the wild charges leveled at Trump of incompetence on network and cable news. Trump in his exasperation at “fake news,” took the Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test to prove his powers of recall and analysis. He aced the exam.
But where is Lee now in the era of a 78-year-old Joe Biden in the White House?
Or rather, where is the Left to use her “research” to question whether Joe Biden is compos mentis? In the last 30 days, he has claimed there were none vaccinated when he entered office (he was photographed receiving a shot on December 21, a month before his inauguration).
In truth, 1 million a day were receiving vaccinations when Biden assumed the presidency. He cannot at times remember the name of his own secretary of defense or of the Pentagon where Gen.(ret.) Lloyd Austin works, and increasingly needs a translator to make sense of his slurred words, raspy voice, off-topic wandering, truncated vocabulary, and fragmented syntax.
Trump was once said to be shaky and disguising an obvious illness because after a long day at West Point he walked slowly in his leather shoes on a smooth ramp. In contrast, this week Joe Biden staggered and fell three times climbing the stairs to Air Force One—without a commensurate media howl. Will Joe be subject to an outside medical assessment? Might Dr. Lee reappear to give him the Montreal test?
I think we know the answer. “Science” is used to denigrate a perceived enemy of the people, and ignored to enhance a guardian of the flock.
Hate Crimes by Whom?
Joe Biden and the Left are implying if not outright asserting that there is now an epidemic of Anti-Asian violence perpetrated by white racists, insidiously emboldened by Trump’s past references to the “Wuhan” or “China” virus. No doubt, in a nation of 330 million, there are lots of haters who happen to be white, but are they the main culprit for racially-motivated crimes of hatred against Asians?
Recently, a deranged sex-addict and religious fanatic shot and killed eight people in the Atlanta area, six of whom were apparently Asian Americans. When apprehended, the 21-year-old confessed to the murders. In unhinged fashion, he claimed that he sought to eliminate sex workers and their places of business in general, with which he was apparently obsessed.
The unhinged shooter denied that race drove his murdering and indeed, he murdered two whites and injured a Latino. And his past proven sex addition and mental instability, along with his lethal shooting of non-Asians, suggest he was a pathological, mentally impaired murderer, not a race hater bent of mowing down the Other.
No matter. The media massaged the story into proof of its theories that a spate of recent hate crime attacks against Asian Americans were fueled by white supremacists, or at least those goaded on by the racist Donald Trump. That narrative was lacking evidence in both the Georgia shootings and the recent assaults on Asians.
One data point to justify such unsubstantiated charges that we might not see is a list of all Asian American victims of recent hate crimes, calibrated by the race/ethnicity of the attacker, and then adjusted to percentages in the general population—all in the context of clear racial animosity.
To do so, might suggest that in all those attacks where a clear, premeditated racial motive, rather than random violence or psychological deviance, is found, black males are inordinately represented.
For example, in the FBI hate crime statistics for 2019, the most recent year available, 4.4 percent of all single bias racial hate crimes were Asian Americans. Where the race and ethnicity of the perpetrators for all hate crimes was known, 52.5 percent were “white,” of whom 33.1 percent were in the ethnic category list as “Not Hispanic or Latino.”
Such so-called non-Hispanic whites make up about 65-70 percent of the population, depending on the method of categorization. In contrast, 23.9 percent of hate-crime perpetrators were identified as black or African American, while they comprise only 12-13 percent of the population. Data from New York and San Francisco on bodily violence or crimes in general against Asians suggest the same pattern.
The science might suggest that in matters of hate crimes—if society insists on focusing on the race and ethnicity of the attacker and knows the motive—it should then compare relative percentages of the population to determine who is inordinately, or not inordinately, committing such crimes.
To the degree, some progressives follow the science, the more honest left-wing venues have conceded that blacks may have been inordinately responsible, in demographic terms, for anti-Asian violence and indeed are over-represented in race-driven hate crimes in general. But they escape the obvious ramifications of such intersectional hatreds, by offering an exculpatory exegesis: nonetheless, whites are responsible for the hate, by pitting one racial group against another to ensure Roman-like divide-and-conquer “white supremacy.” Thus, for example, one Antoine Watson ran across the street to push down and kill 84-year-old San Franciscan Vicha Ratanapakdee because either Donald Trump had used the phrase “Chinese virus” or due to the insidious “white supremacy” that had conditioned the African American Watson to hate immigrants from Thailand.
Fencing in Cities, Vaccination, and Ruskies
The science might also tally up all the material and human damage committed in 2020 in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. and then compare it to the carnage of January 6 at the Capitol. And then experts might show whether there is a scientific correlation between the number of federal troops posted in Washington to other major riot-torn cities, at least in terms of soldiers stationed per person injured and killed or millions of dollars in property damaged. Otherwise, why the inordinate military build-up around the Capitol?
In truth, our woke officials pay little attention to science. If the point is to vaccinate first all Americans most likely to die or become seriously ill by COVID-19, then age and proven comorbidities might have been the most effective scientific criteria to schedule vaccinations. Yet for weeks in many states instead we floundered by ignoring science as scientists haggled over which particular marginalized or essential community should gain precedence over another.
In the Russian collusion hoax, to this hour, we have ignored the findings of Robert Mueller’s failed $35 million, 22 month investigation. Christopher Steele testified that he had no data to present to back up his mythical, now biblical dossier. James Comey pleaded amnesia 245 times as in “I don’t recall” when asked under oath about his own investigation. Robert Muller himself testified that he knew almost nothing about Fusion GPS and the Steele dossier, the catalysts for his own investigation. James Clapper had no evidence, he testified under oath, to substantiate his public charges that the president of the United States may be a “Russian asset.” No matter, in “learning-nothing-forgetting-nothing” fashion, we are now returning to the theme of Trump as a Russian asset and colluder on the basis of “new” evidence from the “intelligence community.”
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Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won and The Case for Trump.