The price of good deeds

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The idea that truth is simple is wonderfully seductive but also frequently wrong. The world is full of counterintuitive phenomena, particularly in the world of science. Gravity, the weakest of the forces, requires mass in such abundance for its effects to be noticed that only an object as massive as the very earth itself will do. Two rocks may have gravitational attraction one for the other, but the gravitational force is too weak for humans unaided by technology to measure. Therefore it’s not immediately obvious why people walking “on the bottom” of the world don’t fall off. Hence we have “Flat Earthers,” who mistake gravity for a force that is universal and is not dependent on mass and acts in one direction only, that is, “down.”

An accelerating clock keeps time more slowly than a clock relatively at rest. Two is a prime number while one is not. Vaccinated people can carry and transmit a virus. Sometimes they can even get sick. Very often truth needs to be explained and qualified before it can be believed. Many people who are seduced by the mistaken notion that truth is simple have no time for these explanations. We have a name for such people. We call them “Republicans.”

It is therefore no surprise that a good man of science who has devoted his life to helping people, a man like Dr. Anthony Fauci, should be vilified by Republicans. He brings them unobvious truth, truth of the last kind I mentioned, the counterintuitive (but only slightly counterintuitive) notion that vaccines aren’t perfect. Even so, vaccines are, in fact, statistically vastly superior. But explaining that to a primitive people who think everything is strictly black and white with no gradations in between is a nightmare assignment almost destined for failure from the beginning.

In a recent press conference, masterfully hosted by the President’s press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Dr. Fauci once again had to answer the same tired question of why, early on in the pandemic, much of what we knew about Covid-19 turned out to be wrong. For example, early on in the pandemic we were mistaken about how easily Covid spread. We wrongly believed that it wasn’t transmitted through the air, at least not easily. We mistakenly thought that it couldn’t be transmitted by asymptomatic carriers, and so on.

Science — and medical science is no exception — moves forward slowly and imperfectly. The point is that it moves forward, that it is self-correcting, that it is not hogtied by dogma. Because Dr. Fauci presided over a system that made some initial but perfectly understandable errors, he is universally condemned and hated and blamed by Republicans for Covid deaths.

This blame is fueled and encouraged by Republican leaders who want to draw attention away from the mistakes they made at the behest and unbelievably incompetent “leadership” of Donald Trump. Dr. Fauci is excoriated because he embarrassed and contradicted Trump. Trump is stupid and he refused to believe what he was told by scientists, that Covid was deadly and that it would kill millions of people if draconian measures were not taken to stop it.

Instead, Trump was seduced by the idiotic notion that he was a “stable genius” and that he alone could solve the problem with bleach and hydroxychloroquine and crackpot bromides about how Covid would be gone by Easter. Because Trump caused hundreds of thousands of American deaths through his incompetence and his perverse penchant to divide and blame, Republicans have been working overtime ever since to destroy and blame Dr. Fauci for Trump’s mistakes. Many, like the poisonous cretin Marjorie Taylor Greene, have even called for Dr. Fauci’s arrest!

Republicans are seduced by anecdotal evidence. Statistics are another thing that most Republicans don’t understand. But the statistical fact remains, the unvaccinated are overwhelmingly overrepresented in Covid deaths. Dr. Fauci has once again made this clear, but the anti-vaxxer Republican morons have ossified into a permanent state of disbelief in everything the doctor says, no matter how rational and clear he tries to be.

Dr. Fauci, age 81, could have retired in comfort long ago. But instead, despite death threats and ignorant blame, he carries on. He is a true public servant who has proven once again that no good deed goes unpunished. That the punishment is so absurdly unjust is a sad measure of just how very good those deeds have proven to be, and how scandalously underappreciated they remain. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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