Coronavirus: Too Much Ideology and Not Enough Reality

Coronavirus: Too Much Ideology and Not Enough Reality, by Jennifer Oriel.

Living in the time of COVID-19 is like being caught between a priggish schoolmarm, a piggish ­bureaucrat and an adolescent suffering oppositional defiance disorder. …

Whether you question the wisdom of economic shutdowns, fear the growth of big government, or admit to confusion about the changeable advice on viral prevention, you stand accused. There is no middle ground. Everyone from the fools who breach quarantine to scholars who criticise government policy risks being accused of conspiracy, misanthropy, or murder. COVID-19 critics are the new deplorables. …

The new deplorable class features classical liberals and people who are generally wary of big ­government. The favoured term of derision for the latter is conspiracy theorist. …

In the media, the same characteristics used to smear Donald Trump’s deplorables are refashioned as tools of bigotry for a COVID-19 climate, namely being white and right of centre. In The Guardian, an article associated being white, female and leaving the left to become a Trump supporter to anti-vaxxer politics and conspiracy theory. In The Sydney Morning Herald, a COVID-19 conspiracy theorist arrested for violating border restrictions was described as an “avid Donald Trump supporter” with no analysis of its relevance to the case.

In the Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review, researchers suggested a correlation between watching conservative media and belief in conspiracy theories about COVID-19. On the face of it, the findings are troubling. However, the authors did not demonstrate a causal relationship between such media consumption and the development of conspiratorial beliefs. Nor did they disprove a relationship between consuming left-wing media and believing in other conspiracies. …

In the time of COVID-19, the deplorable group has broadened to include people critical of government policy. …

A Gallup poll found that only 35 per cent of Americans would agree to taking a vaccine for COVID-19 if it were available. …

The media plays a significant role in disseminating accurate ­information about the pandemic, but research suggests it is losing the battle on social media. A Pew report showed people who relied on social media for news were less knowledgeable and less engaged than those who relied on other news platforms. The social media group scored lower on knowledge about politics and the economy, and they were more exposed to COVID-19 conspiracy theories.

On the one hand, we have the media-favored group that judges lockdown as the least expensive way of managing covid before a vaccine arrives, but which won’t even consider closing US borders for selfish political reasons, and which refuses to consider deploying cheap and effective drugs like HCQ rather than expensive big pharma solutions. They ignore the reality that hard borders are essential, otherwise a lockdown is wasted.

Authoritarian and big-government types are more than happy to go along with this.

On the other hand, we have the anti-lockdown crew. No amount of evidence will dissuade them. It’s as if they don’t understand it, and evidence is just a plaything to be selectively ignored or misunderstood. Reality plays a distant second place to wishful thinking.

As Ms Oriel said above, “like being caught between a priggish schoolmarm, a piggish ­bureaucrat and an adolescent suffering oppositional defiance disorder.”

Both groups were way too slow to close the borders in the first place, thus allowing us to come to harm. How those smug Han Chinese must be laughing at us!

hat-tip Stephen Neil