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Home/Rod Dreher/Lying About Covid For ‘International Harmony’

Lying About Covid For ‘International Harmony’

Dr. Anthony Fauci being roasted this week by Sen. Rand Paul (Source)

The prominent science journalist Matt Ridley is not happy these days. From his Telegraph op-ed:

Inch by painful inch, the truth is being dragged out about how this pandemic started. It is just about understandable, if not forgivable, that Chinese scientists have obfuscated vital information about early cases and their work with similar viruses in Wuhan’s laboratories: they were subject to fierce edicts from a ruthless, totalitarian regime.

It is more shocking to discover in emails released this week that some western scientists were also saying different things in public from what they thought in private. The emails were exchanged over the first weekend of February 2020 between senior virologists on both sides of the Atlantic following a meeting arranged by Sir Jeremy Farrar, head of the Wellcome Trust, with America’s two top biologists, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, and Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Freedom of Information requests sent last year produced farcical results in both Britain and America: ghost emails with all the contents redacted. Now, the US government has been forced to make unredacted versions available to Republicans on the House of Representatives’ oversight committee for an “in camera review”.

Thankfully, staffers transcribed some of the contents. They show that Dr Fauci, Dr Collins and Sir Patrick Vallance, our Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, were briefed, on and after February 1, by several virologists who thought at the time that the new virus showed signs of having been manipulated in the laboratory.

Not only did they never breathe a word of this suspicion to the media or the public, they rubbished it. The meeting on February 1 led to an article from the very virologists who were making the case that the virus showed signs of having been in a lab. Yet, in the words of Dr Collins, the job of that article was to “settle” the matter and “put down this very destructive conspiracy” lest the rumours do harm to “international harmony”.

Read it all (if you can get behind the paywall). Ridley goes on to say that he believed these senior scientists — and now he knows they lied to the public. Documents obtained by The Intercept through a FOIA request indicate that the US Government did in fact help fund gain-of-function research in conjunction with Chinese labs. And here is a clip from the Telegraph story Ridley links to in the second paragraph of the above passage:

The emails were sent in response to a teleconference between 12 scientists including Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, on February 1.

The emails show that by February 2 2020, scientists were already trying to shut down the debate into the laboratory leak theory.

An email from Dr Ron Fouchier to Sir Jeremy said: “Further debate about such accusations would unnecessarily distract top researchers from their active duties and do unnecessary harm to science in general and science in China in particular.”

Dr Collins, former director of the NIH, replied to Sir Jeremy stating: “I share your view that a swift convening of experts in a confidence-inspiring framework is needed or the voices of conspiracy will quickly dominate, doing great potential harm to science and international harmony.”

Institutions which held the emails have repeatedly resisted efforts to publish their content.

The University of Edinburgh recently turned down an Freedom of Information request from The Telegraph asking to see Prof Rambaut’s replies, claiming “disclosure would be likely to endanger the physical or mental health and safety of individuals”.

James Comer, the Republican congressman who secured the unredacted emails, said it showed that experts like Dr Fauci had taken the Wuhan lab leak theory “much more seriously” than they had let on.

They wanted to protect China, and access to Chinese labs. So they lied about where they thought this virus came from. Maybe they lied to protect themselves from scrutiny over gain-of-function research. Well, whatever the case, you can get better verbal ass-whippings of Collins and Fauci, those “noble liars,” elsewhere than here. Sen. Rand Paul has been raking Fauci over the coals this week. Allow me to point out, though, that these lies from our top scientists and public health officials have been telling about Covid are likely to have a tremendous effect. (“Trust the science”? Please.) What I’m talking about is the key role that widespread loss of faith in hierarchies and authoritative institutions play in moving a society towards totalitarianism. Hannah Arendt observed that a “new terrifying negative solidarity” among the masses in pre-totalitarian Germany and Russia, after a collapse of trust in the traditional authorities and authoritative institutions in those societies.

It’s not only Fauci and Collins, of course. Just last night I read this piece by Jeff Groom about the conviction of USMC Lt. Col. Stu Scheller, who publicly denounced senior military leadership after the hot mess of our Afghanistan withdrawal. Groom writes that Scheller’s attack was ill-advised, but morally, he was in the right. Excerpt:

Specifically, what issue caused Lt. Col Scheller to create his protest video? In his own words, the Marine officer was outraged that no senior military leaders had come forward to take responsibility for the then-unfolding catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan. The key word was accountability. As Scheller rightly noted, if a battalion commander of his rank presided over a live-fire training exercise mishap or fatality, usually they are removed, i.e. fired, from their position. He wasn’t exaggerating the standard that these leaders are usually held to.

Why then, do mistakes and miscalculations of much greater magnitude such as what he was watching in real time in Afghanistan go unpunished? As Army Lt. Col. Paul Yingling wrote in a 2007 essay about the failures of America’s generals, “a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.” President Biden ordered the Afghanistan withdrawal in April of 2021. Given full four months to plan and execute, the military’s leaders completely punted it. And now, almost two months after things went south, not a single military or civilian leader has been demoted, reprimanded, or fired.

As Thomas Ricks noted in 2012, firing generals wasn’t always seen as a bad thing in American military history. Termination was “expected” if they failed in combat and was a sign of the systems’ health. Even going back to the days of the Civil War, President Lincoln sorted through a half dozen generals before settling on the offensive, total war-minded Ulysses S. Grant. Since World War II, however, as Ricks details, things have changed dramatically. Firing generals has become much more taboo, and when it did occur, it seemed to imply the system was dysfunctional.

General Stanley McChrystal was fired in 2010 by President Obama, not for his conduct in commanding the troops in Afghanistan, but because he made disparaging remarks about the President and then Vice President Joe Biden. After cozying up to the war machine he has, along with another fallen general named Petraeus, made a lucrative post-military career writing books and giving TED talks.

As things went badly in Iraq the perception in the public was that our civilian leadership wasn’t listening to our generals. The military had become a sacred cow, immune from criticism. But generals have to be laser focused on how their strategic vision aligns with the political goals of their civilian leaders. When those visions don’t match, it is incumbent on them to recommend a change of course. If they can’t do this, why do they have stars on their collar? The last twenty years showed this wasn’t happening in any appreciable way. As Scheller said, “General officers, for the last 20 years, have given bad advice consistently.”

Twenty years of bad advice, and nobody is called to account. It’s the American way now.

There will be a heavy price to pay for these lies.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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