Human Exceptionalism

Stop the Whining About Swine Flu “Alarmism”

The times in which we live can be so disheartening: The swine flu–known in its politically correct name as H1N1 Flu–appears not to have become the deadly pandemic some feared. But rather than be relieved, some are carping that the government engaged in fear-mongering. From the story:

Did government health officials “cry swine” when they sounded the alarm on what looked like a threatening new flu? The so-far mild swine flu outbreak has many people saying all the talk about a devastating global epidemic was just fear-mongering hype.

But that’s not how public health officials see it, calling complacency the thing that keeps them up at night. The World Health Organization added a scary-sounding warning Thursday, predicting up to 2 billion people could catch the new flu if the outbreak turns into a global epidemic.

Many blame such alarms and the breathless media coverage for creating an overreaction that disrupted many people’s lives. Schools shut down, idling even healthy kids and forcing parents to stay home from work; colleges scaled back or even canceled graduation ceremonies; a big Cinco de Mayo celebration in Chicago was canned; face masks and hand sanitizers sold out – all because of an outbreak that seems no worse than a mild flu season. “I don’t know anyone who has it. I haven’t met anyone who knows anyone who contracted it,” said Carl Shepherd, a suburban Chicago video producer and father of two. “It’s really frightening more people than it should have. It’s like crying wolf.”

Oh, boo hoo! I remember one story I saw on television of a mother bitterly complaining because her daughter’s softball game had been canceled. I mean really! If the government had not taken these steps and the flu had turned out to be a deadly threat, the screaming would never stop.

We are so spoiled. We believe we should never be inconvenienced–but we expect the government to perfectly calibrate its responses and prevent every problem by pushing a button. But that impossible, since we can’t precisely know the future.

The CDC did a good and professional job reacting to what seemed a real threat–proving that they have thought about and trained in how to respond to these threats beforehand. I am sure lessons can be learned and improvements made. But realizing this thing could still go the other way, for once, can’t we just take the whole matter in stride and, with a sense of gratitude that the illness does not appear to be as serious as originally feared, thank these hard-working professionals for a job well done?

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