Two on the Fauci Emails

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

I have to agree with the two main sentiments voiced by Faye Flam regarding email correspondence of Anthony Fauci's released under the Freedom of Information Act.


Anthony Fauci with George W. Bush, under whose administration lockdowns were (ill) conceived as policy. (Image by Records of the White House Photo Office, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.)
If there's any scandal revealed by the emails of Anthony Fauci, recently released after a Freedom of Information Act request by journalists, it's that scientists were wildly clueless at the start of the pandemic. They didn't know what to do about the pandemic, when and how to deploy masks, or where the pandemic came from. [bold added]
With that, Flam opens her consideration of what the emails reveal, which I regard as even-handed. As proof, I offer the following, which an anti-mask "fence vs mosquito" conservative quotes approvingly:
Last week, a trove of Dr. Anthony Fauci's emails were released to the public. In a Feb. 5, 2020, email to a Team Obama health official, the virus guru wrote that masks were for infected people, and that "the typical mask you buy in a drug store is not really effective in keeping out the virus, which is small enough to pass through the material."
I'm not sure whether there was any consensus in February 2020 on how important aerosolized viruses versus viruses in droplets were for transmission (and under what circumstances), but the effectiveness of masks isn't a function of virus size, anyway. So, yes: Chalk one up to Flam for noticing that Fauci was in over his head at the moment, too.

(And shame on the New York Post for cherry-picking something from someone it likes to tear down -- to support an easily-discredited position -- as it remains murky about masks vs mask mandates. The former issue is too important to treat in such a cursory way. As for the latter, it is simply ridiculous and dangerous to pretend that mandates would be a-okay if there were ironclad proof that masks could afford some safety from infection.)

Flam's second point is also worthy of consideration:
If Fauci owes the public an explanation for anything, it's why he approved funding for research that potentially made viruses more dangerous -- so-called gain of function research.
As Flam notes, there are many reasons to perform this kind of research. Some transparency would be a very good idea here. Indeed, we are owed as much.

Assuming the most benign interpretation of Anthony Fauci's actions during the pandemic, it won't stop all of his detractors, but it would make him more credible to thoughtful people. And after a pandemic in which unexplained mandates, confused messaging, and politicization by government officials made a mockery of our republic, it would be a much-needed first step by a government official towards a return to true "normalcy." That is, we could remember that one of the best distinctions of our country is that we are governed by informed consent. That is, we are bosses of our government officials, whose job it is to protect our rights.

In return, we should make an effort to remember that experts are there to give us advice. They are neither infallible gods whose orders we must obey, no questions asked -- nor to be regarded as complete dolts on the basis of failing to be omniscient. As much as I am personally inclined to dislike Fauci, he is a human being who had a very difficult job to to. He should state his side of the story clearly, and we should hear it before passing judgement on him.

-- CAV

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