We’re all in COVID-19 together, but that doesn’t mean we have to believe and praise the Chinese government.
Sure, maybe you don’t ridicule the Chinese response at the time it’s being crafted, but you can certainly criticize it. You can maybe mumble a “whatever” through gritted teeth at the lying of the communist government in Beijing, but you don’t have to pretend it’s not lying.
This seems to have been forgotten among members of the media who are showing unvarnished admiration for how a wholly tyrannical government that hid the existence of coronavirus from the world for an extended period of time — a mistake that might have caused up to 95 percent of the cases worldwide, according to one study — says it controlled COVID-19 through despotic measures.
Note that word “says.” It’s because we’re not in a position to necessarily trust what China’s leaders say. How many cases did they bury? Have they really turned the corner? The person who takes their position at face value is always the kind of person at face value for an opportunistic reason.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has likely dealt with more than a few of these people over these past few weeks. Fauci isn’t exactly an uncritical supporter of what the president says, as anyone who’s watched the White House’s daily coronavirus news briefings knows.
However, when a reporter asked Wednesday about the World Health Organization praising the Chinese government for its response to the crisis, Fauci had little patience.
President Donald Trump answered first, saying, “It’s been very unfair. … I have heard for years that that is very much biased toward China, so I don’t know. Doctor, do you want to you — do you want me to get you into this political mess?”
“No, I don’t want you to do that. But I will,” Fauci said with a laugh.
He stepped to the podium and said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was an “outstanding person,” adding, “I mean, obviously, over the years, anyone who says that the WHO has not had problems has not been watching the WHO. But I think, under his leadership, they’ve done very well. He has been all over this. I was on the phone with him a few hours ago leading a WHO call.”
Do you think China has been entirely forthcoming about its coronavirus numbers?
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“Praising China’s transparency, sir?” the reporter said.
“No. No, I’m not — I’m not talking about China,” Fauci said. “You asked me about Tedros.”
The reporter then said, “The World Health Organization was praising China for its transparency and leadership on their response to the pandemic.”
“You know, I can’t comment on that because — I mean, I don’t have any viewpoint into it,” Fauci responded. “I mean, I don’t — I don’t even know what your question is.”
He then walked away from the podium dismissively.
Enter Trump: “Welcome to the group.”
This is more or less how praise for China ought to be treated. Ghebreyesus has to begrudgingly praise China. Nobody on the left seemed to buy his praise of Trump, after all. Nor, in fact, did I; it sounded terribly pro forma.
The WHO’s praise for China also ignores the fact that their numbers might be wildly distorted and that its response to the crisis was also one that only a communist dictatorship could have accomplished. For us to say that we can or should give that much power to a government is a deeply flawed argument.
This is a question more about politics than it is about medicine or epidemiology. Hence, Fauci ridiculed it by walking away.
The subtext is, of course, that the media wants to have Fauci turn into a figure of politics.
This is a crowd who believe “science!” — always with that exclamation point — is a legitimate peroration so long as that science more or less corroborates the argument they started off with.
Science involves numbers, after all. When we can’t be sure of the numbers, we also should withhold the praise.
Ghebreyesus has to praise China to keep squabbles from occurring at the international level. The media don’t have to echo this — and when they do, officials like Fauci ought to walk away.
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