I would like to extend and amplify one little bit of Michael’s excellent post this morning and say this: Anthony Fauci should stop complaining about the obscene phone calls and the death threats.
Unhappily, this sort of thing now is part of the ordinary daily business of anybody who is in public life — and Fauci is a practically inescapable public figure. But his nemesis in this matter, Senator Rand Paul, gets the same thing. (Senator Paul has in fact been physically assaulted.) But even considerably less well-known figures endure a more or less regular barrage of threats, obscenity, and the like. I do. People on cable-news shows do. People who are big on social media do. And though I am not much of a feminist, I would suggest to anybody who wants a genuinely horrifying account of this sort of thing to ask virtually any woman in public life about it.
But to do what Fauci is doing — to treat the ravings and rhetorical misdeeds of the lunatics as though they discredited ordinary political disagreement — is dishonest; worse, it encourages the very thing that Fauci complains about by elevating and amplifying it. We should treat it like what it is: the almost always inconsequential ravings of people who are fixated on some public figure or public controversy but whose rage and psychic incontinence more often are rooted in personal inadequacies and unrelated anxieties — people who started off shaking with rage and then looked around until they could find something or someone to hitch it to. People who need to physically protect themselves should do so, of course, but cynically exploiting the outpourings of mentally incompetent people on Twitter or down in the comments section amounts to very little more than petty political advantage-seeking.