Here are a couple of stories from this week that should make readers question the conventional wisdom that we hear every day from the media.
First, I don’t usually link to Slate.com because it’s slanted so much to the left, so you know it must be an exceptional piece if I do. Henry Grabar took a close look at the coronavirus stats for New York City and found that all the reasons we’ve heard for why it was so bad there don’t hold up to scrutiny. For instance, population density and levels of subway ridership had no correlation to neighborhood infection rates. San Francisco has more restaurants per capita and far fewer virus cases. Other cities are just as crowded and rely just as much on mass transit but weren’t hit as hard, while some smaller, less crowded towns were hit just as hard. His conclusion: New York’s leaders simply waited too long to impose social distancing guidelines. Two weeks earlier might have reduced the death rate by 80 percent.
And as we listen to the arguments over when to reopen the economy, with some people chomping at the bit to get back to work and others arguing that we must all stay behind closed doors for at least 18 months, here’s a bucket of cold reality.
It’s a Twitter thread reminding us that the shutdown and social distancing were never meant to prevent us all from ever getting sick. It was to flatten the curve of infections, so the medical system wouldn’t be overwhelmed with cases before we were prepared for them. No matter when we emerge from our cocoons, and no matter who is President, there is no way to prevent a virus from spreading. The common cold is a virus, and we’ve been trying to get rid of it for centuries with no success.
The fact is that no matter when we restart the economy or how careful we are, the virus is going to spread. Some people will get it and never get sick, some will have milder cases, some will get very sick and (hopefully) we’ll be better prepared to help them, and tragically, some will die. All this self-quarantining was never going to reduce the number of cases in the long run, it was just meant to slow down the spread to make it easier to deal with. And it was also never meant to be an excuse for certain politicians to impose their crazy agendas or trample people’s Constitutional rights.
Nor was it meant to be an excuse for social media giants like Facebook to start acting like the Russian secret police and declaring people who protest the government to be “spreading misinformation” and silencing them.
This canard is based on a rationale similar to the slander of the Tea Party movement, that it wasn’t an “organic” public uprising, but just some astroturfed theater created by rightwing manipulators. I saw the Tea Party movement up close, and even wrote a book (“God, Guns, Grits and Gravy”) about the growing anger and frustration in “flyover country” at out-of-touch political and media elites. That was quite genuine, as the election of Donald Trump proved. And the fury over politicians who are trying to use the current health crisis to impose irrational and draconian restrictions on people’s rights is also quite genuine. (Here's the latest, and brace yourself for this one).
Note to Mark Zuckerberg: “Misinformation” doesn’t mean “states an opinion leftists don’t want to hear.” As a reminder, there are other social media outlets aside from the big names that do not censor political speech. My Twitter tweets are echoed on one, Parler.com. You should check it out, you might be needing it soon.
The New York Post tried to link a protest of the lockdown to a surge in coronavirus deaths, when the surge was reported on the same day the protest took place. That’s one fast virus!
A number of media outlets ran photos allegedly showing crowds on a newly-reopened beach in Jacksonville, Florida, violating social distancing guidelines. But it turned out that the photos looked like crowds from some angles, but from others, you could tell they were actually small groups, likely families who quarantine together, staying at least six feet away from other people. It’s called “perspective,” which a lot of people obviously don’t have.
Finally, New York Times writer Ginia Bellafante tried to blame the death of a New York man on Fox News because he allegedly contracted the virus on a cruise he took after watching Sean Hannity downplay the seriousness of the disease. Problem: the Hannity quote she cites was from March 9th, long after the man left on the cruise. However, before he left on the cruise, back on February 27th, he might have seen this tweet from another media figure: “I fundamentally don’t understand the panic. Virus is not deadly in vast majority of cases.” That was a quote from…take a wild guess?...New York Times reporter Ginia Bellafante.