Politics & Policy

The Party of Science (When They Feel Like It)

Demonstrators gather to march during a protest against police brutality during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Brooklyn, New York, June 13, 2020. (Caitlin Ochs)
Lockdowns are subjectively enforced by Democratic politicians whose devotion to science is predicated on circumstance.

Apparently if you protest for a just cause, your body becomes impervious to the respiratory droplets that spread viral diseases. Or so many liberals seem to argue.

Indeed, no event during the coronavirus crisis has put more Americans in closer proximity to each other than the Black Lives Matter protests. During the first three months of the COVID-19 outbreak, every expert told us that mass gatherings were tantamount to murdering Grandma Dolores. Not long ago, opening a small hair-cuttery was “human sacrifice.” Not long ago, race-baiting leftists argued that Republicans had stopped treating coronavirus as a national emergency once they learned black Americans were dying.

Then came the marches. Science-based absolutism was quickly shelved. Today, liberals are mobilizing to preemptively dismiss the notion that Black Lives Matters protests could possibly trigger a spike in cases. New York mayor Bill De Blasio, who’s ineptly presided over the epicenter of the disease, is instructing city contact tracers not to ask infected New Yorkers if they attended marches or rallies.

How long have we been assured that testing and contact tracing were the keys to controlling the spread of the virus? New York City tracers will reportedly ask citizens about “close contacts” — which is defined as standing within six feet of another person for at least ten minutes — but not if a person attended a Black Lives Matters protest where, need it be said, tens of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens were marching shoulder to shoulder, chanting for more than ten minutes — and often without any mask.

In truth, even if we knew how many transmissions occurred during the BLM protests, tracing becomes less beneficial, since most protesters have no idea with whom they’ve been in contact during a rally, much less their names or where they live. Yet, finding out how, and how quickly or slowly, coronavirus is spread in outdoor gatherings would surely be valuable data for researchers and policymakers. Actively ignoring these data is an example valuing politics over science.

Either coronavirus is spread easily at outdoor events, and the marchers put their neighbors and themselves in great danger, or it is not, and most of the draconian rules dictating outdoor social distancing during the shutdowns — the closing of parks, funerals, weddings, summer camps, etc. — were unnecessary and probably unhealthy. Either elected officials have helped facilitate a second wave, or they have been enforcing useless diktats.

Some on the left have argued that protesting police brutality is so vital that it’s worth the risk. Why do they get to decide what risk is permissible? A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, for example, found a 41 percent decline in active black business owners during the coronavirus shutdowns. There’s a case to be made that opening up the economy would be far more beneficial for the black community than marching in the streets. No doubt there are some African Americans who would have rather risked their health to save their life’s work — or go to church or see their children. As it should be.

At this point, we have no choice but to believe the politicians who cheered the mass protests — often marching themselves — are only subjectively punishing constituents. This weekend, tens of thousands of people gathered in mass demonstration in Brooklyn. Today, De Blasio has city workers welding shut the gates to parks in Hasidic neighborhoods in Williamsburg, lest kids play outside. This weekend, thousands marched, but New York governor Andrew Cuomo, the man who oversaw the most disastrously inept coronavirus response in the country, only threatened people having drinks on the street of downtown Manhattan to disperse: “Don’t make me come down there,” he warned.

When asked about the possibility of protests spreading coronavirus, Washington, D.C., mayor Muriel Bowser, another elected official who ignores her own regulations, argued that “before these protests, we were seeing spikes. The reopening of America, in some cases early, has already generated an increase of cases.” This deflection, quite popular among Democrats, is meaningless. Spikes in the Sunbelt do not tell us anything useful about the relationship that protests have with the spreading of coronavirus. It says nothing about her governance.

Whether Black Lives Matter protests were precarious is yet to be seen. The astonishing hypocrisy and lawlessness of elected officials, on the other hand, make it clear that lockdowns are subjectively enforced by politicians whose devotion to science is predicated on circumstance.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun

Most Popular

The Party of Lincoln

Paradoxical as it might seem, the greatness of Abraham Lincoln has actually been obscured by his posthumous elevation to the rank of stone-hewn demigod. The man described by Leo Tolstoy is the one most Americans imagine when the name of our sixteenth president is invoked — the civic savior sent to water the ... Read More

The Party of Lincoln

Paradoxical as it might seem, the greatness of Abraham Lincoln has actually been obscured by his posthumous elevation to the rank of stone-hewn demigod. The man described by Leo Tolstoy is the one most Americans imagine when the name of our sixteenth president is invoked — the civic savior sent to water the ... Read More

Jerry Falwell Jr.: Failed Institutionalist

In December 2015, I sat with about 10,000 other students in Liberty University’s Vines Center for one of the thrice weekly Convocations, this one featuring remarks by Jerry Falwell Jr., the school’s president, chancellor, and son of its famous founder. It was already well-known by the student body that for ... Read More

Jerry Falwell Jr.: Failed Institutionalist

In December 2015, I sat with about 10,000 other students in Liberty University’s Vines Center for one of the thrice weekly Convocations, this one featuring remarks by Jerry Falwell Jr., the school’s president, chancellor, and son of its famous founder. It was already well-known by the student body that for ... Read More
Elections

Kamala Harris’s Anti-Catholic Bigotry

Someone might want to remind Joe Biden, who’s just picked progressive California senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, that his vice-president-to-be believes Catholics are unfit to serve in our nation’s courts. (Biden, of course, as I considered at length on the homepage today, has spent his entire ... Read More
Elections

Kamala Harris’s Anti-Catholic Bigotry

Someone might want to remind Joe Biden, who’s just picked progressive California senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, that his vice-president-to-be believes Catholics are unfit to serve in our nation’s courts. (Biden, of course, as I considered at length on the homepage today, has spent his entire ... Read More