Belmont Club

The Collapse of Social Distancing and Establishment Authority

Demonstrators pause to kneel as they march to protest the death of George Floyd, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Megan McArdle fears that public health officials’ endorsement of mass demonstrations to support Black Lives Matter has destroyed their credibility to order lockdowns in the future.

Academia/media will have lost it, because let’s be honest: we treated these protests very differently from church services or anti-lockdown protests, something a bunch of public health experts made explicit. We already, clearly, had a problem communicating our concerns to more conservative people, especially in redder states. That problem just became insuperable. They will trust nothing we say because apparently, we only think the danger is great enough to override their priorities.

McCardle was referring to a letter signed by 1,200 of the country’s most renowned public health “experts” calling outdoor mass gatherings “vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people.”

The damage may affect more than officialdom’s power to call for a lockdown in the event of a second coronavirus wave. Not only has the academia/media lost much of its credibility on social distancing/lockdown questions, it has collaterally diminished its authority to sound the tocsin on Climate Emergency, the Rohingya genocide, and all the many other “alerts'” it has been issuing. The true will be doubted alongside the false.

The idea that the media inflated or exaggerated the pandemic fears to justify a lockdown for social engineering purposes may seem monstrous to those whose modest jobs and small businesses were lost, but like a spouse walking in on flagrante delicto what else are they to think? “Honey, I can explain why we locked down the jobs and churches and visits to nursing homes but not antifa. It’s not what it looks like!”

That’s a hard sell.

Of course, science still exists even if the science explainers are baloney. The truth lives despite liars. And as Kurt Godel famously said, “religions are, for the most part, bad—but religion is not.” Yet if you’re looking for the real McCoy, maybe you won’t find it on TV.

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