Nina Burleigh Pandemic

Did the Long Pandemic Spawn a New Kind of Repression?

We’re all Covid-exhausted by now, but what a shame if that were to lead not just to the deaths of ever more Americans but of a political system, too.
[www.vperemen.com / CC BY 2.0]

By Nina Burleigh | TomDispatch

Last month, not long after Florida federal judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled that the transportation mask mandate was illegal, I flew from New York City to Miami. Videos of airplane passengers in midflight ripping off their masks and cheering with joy had already gone viral following the judge’s ruling.

I’ve traveled domestically and internationally many times since the start of the pandemic and I hate the mask as much as anyone. It makes me sneeze and it tickles. After 10 hours on long hauls, I can indeed feel like I’m suffocating. It can be almost unbearable. But after two years of obediently masking up to enter airports and planes around the world, I found my first unmasked travel experience jarring indeed, even though I kept mine on. I was not the only masked person on that American Airlines flight, but I was definitely in the minority.

Writing a book, Virus: Vaccinations, the CDC, and the Hijacking of America’s Response to the Pandemic, about the politics and science of our Covid-19 experience, I came to know and trust public-health policy experts and vaccine scientists. I learned enough about the mRNA vaccines so many (but not enough) of us have received that I regard them as a major medical milestone well worth celebrating. I also accept that scientific understanding is based on uncertainty and the advice of our health authorities is only as good as the latest peer-reviewed article.

So I’ve maintained faith in science, even while understanding its limits. And I also understand the frustration of so many Americans. Who among us didn’t chafe at the pandemic restrictions? Who wasn’t going mad trying to work from a home or apartment reverberating with restless children locked out of their schools?

In March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, I thought the crisis might provoke wider support for a more universal health-care system. Nothing of the sort materialized, of course, although the rapid, government-financed development and delivery of free and effective vaccines — to those who wanted them — was indeed a success story.

Now, in the pandemic’s third year, people are ripping off their masks everywhere as Greek-letter Covid mutations continue to waft through the air.

The viral joy of that unmasking, the giving of the proverbial finger to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), begs the question: Did the pandemic make average Americans more anti-government?  Did it bring us closer to what decades of rightwing propaganda had not quite succeeded in doing — generating widespread public support for the “deconstruction of the administrative state” (a phrase favored by Trump crony Steve Bannon)?

Government activity during the first two pandemic years was certainly intense. Trillions of dollars in business loans and unemployment money washed through the economy. At different points, the government even activated the military and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). States also instituted widespread lockdowns and closed schools. The panic, the isolation, and the quotidian inconveniences made some people barking mad.

Of course, a lot of us listened to Dr. Anthony Fauci. We trusted our public health authorities and their recommendations. To many of us, their intentions seemed good, their asks reasonable.

Federal judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, however, thought otherwise.  Just 35 when Donald Trump appointed her a district judge, she had never actually tried a case. The American Bar Association had rejected her confirmation due to her inexperience, but like many Trump judges, she was a Federalist Society-approved ideologue and the Republican Senate confirmed her anyway to a district that, by design, has become a nest of extreme antigovernment judges.

The anti-maskers could have brought their case in any jurisdiction. Choosing Tampa was a clear case of legal venue shopping. Other judges in the district had consistently ruled against government Covid restrictions on cruise ships and against mandatory vaccinations. The plaintiffs couldn’t actually select Judge Mizelle, but their chances of getting an antigovernment ruling in Tampa were high indeed.

As it happened, the plaintiffs got her and she relied on definitions of “sanitation” in mid-twentieth century English dictionaries to overturn the statute that allowed the mask mandate. None of them explicitly included the word “mask” in their definitions. So, she revoked it.

The ruling horrified public-health policy experts, although the Biden administration — probably with the coming midterm elections and those viral videos of mask-free joy in mind — decided not to challenge the decision directly. “The continuing concern throughout the pandemic has been the politicization of these public-health measures,” Dr. Bruce Lee, a public-health policy expert at the City University of New York, told me. “We know that throughout history during public-health crises there has been a need to enact regulations. The big concern with this mask decision is you basically have a scientific or public-health decision made by a single judge.”

It took that judge just 18 days after arguments — a nanosecond in judicial time — to side with two women who said airplane masks gave them panic attacks and anxiety and so unlawfully prevented them from traveling. They were joined by an organization called the Health Freedom Defense Fund.

Using the Virus to Seed Fresh Political Astroturf

The Fund, based in Sandpoint, Idaho, is run by Leslie Manookian, a wellness blogger and antivaccine activist who, after having a child in 2003, left a career in international finance with Goldman Sachs to become, as she describes herself, “a qualified homeopath, nutrition and wellbeing junky” and “a health freedom advocate.”

Manookian has declined to provide information about the sources of funding for her organization, to which the Internal Revenue Service granted nonprofit status in 2021. It’s likely, however, to be just another green swath on the great field of rightwing Astroturf. While social democrats like me imagined that the pandemic might provoke a more equitable health-care system, the crew on the right had other plans for how to manipulate the crisis.

Politicians, strategists, and chaos agents ranging from Donald Trump to Sean Hannity and Alex Jones, sometimes backed by dark money, have used the public-health restrictions to fuel their demands for more “freedom” from government. The definition of freedom among this crowd is primarily understood to be low or no taxes, with access to guns thrown in for good measure. In the spring of 2020, for instance, the billionaire Koch Brothers, who once funded the Tea Party largely to crush Obamacare, were among the conservative megadonors who helped activate the network behind the lockdown “drive-bys” of state capitols. Those initial lockdown protests would later devolve into Y’all-Qaeda-style pro-Trump pickup convoys. In Lansing, Michigan, a protest even ended with armed men entering the State Capitol. Among the intruders were members of a clan of gun-loving militiamen who would eventually plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan for restricting their freedom.

The pandemic seeded new Astroturf for the right. America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS), for example, was formed during the early months of the pandemic to challenge public-health policy in favor of keeping the economy rolling. Besides promoting antivaccine misinformation, AFLDS referred more than 255,000 people to a website created by Jerome Corsi, an author and longtime political agitator, called SpeakwithanMD.com. The site charged for consultations with “AFLDS-approved physicians” about the Covid “cures” ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine that President Trump and his fans so loved.

The messages of such groups (eventually including just about the whole Republican Party) were, of course, amplified by the usual rightwing media outlets — One America News Network, Newsmax, and above all Fox News — that started out by calling the pandemic virus a hoax. When Covid-19 was undeniably killing hundreds of thousands of Americans, the messaging shifted to equating lockdowns, vaccines, and mask mandates with totalitarianism.

Globally, there’s no doubt that the pandemic did indeed release the worst instincts of authoritarian governments. Real autocracies unleashed real abuses of power on vulnerable people in the name of Covid-19. Some of these were catalogued early in the pandemic by the democracy and human-rights organization Freedom House.  In October 2020, it found that, in 59 of 192 countries, violence or abuses of power took place in the name of pandemic safety. It reported, for example, that the government of Zimbabwe was using “Covid-19 restrictions as an excuse for a widespread campaign of threats, harassment, and physical assault” on the political opposition there.

In terms of hubris and scale, though, the totalitarian dystopia to beat has been China. Exiled Chinese writer Liao Wiyu published a vivid book earlier this year describing how the authorities there disappeared doctors, silenced the citizenry; and in a harrowing fashion nailed the doors of homes and apartment buildings shut, marking them with red banners to identify contagious inhabitants. The images were straight out of Daniel Defoe’s novel about the bubonic plague in seventeenth-century London, A Journal of the Plague Year, updated with modern gadgetry like biosurveillance.

China’s “zero Covid” response has included epic crackdowns on freedom of movement. Forty-six cities and 343 million residents have recently been under strict lockdown. Some residents of Shanghai, forbidden to leave their apartments, have been running short of food and medicine. Videos of dogs being lowered by ropes and pulleys from apartment windows for daily walks only added an element of macabre hilarity to the scene.

In the U.S., rather than increasing trust in government, the relatively mild pandemic public-health measures instituted by the CDC and state governments only inflamed America’s “freedom” fetish. Claiming that mask and vaccine mandates were the slippery slope to Chinese totalitarianism was certainly a stretch, but one that many on the right have been all too eager to promote. For years, the right-wing echo chamber has been priming the info-siloed and mentally vulnerable with warnings about “FEMA camps” for Christians and conservatives (and, of course, while they were at it, the feds were always coming to get your guns, too).

As it happened, though, the pandemic also triggered anti-government sentiment outside the usual quarters. Take Jennifer Sey, a self-described Elizabeth Warren Democrat and San Francisco liberal, who was forced out of her job at Levi Strauss & Co., when she started advocating against restrictive school closings. The mother of four and the company’s chief marketing officer, she found it increasingly hard to understand why her children couldn’t go back to school after the first Covid surge in 2020. Irritation and frustration led to public outrage, which led (of course!) to a social-media following. She became an online leader of parents for reopening schools. Her employer didn’t like it and soon banished her.

The Anti-Government Infection as a Symptom of “Long Covid”

Public-health policy expert Dr. Lee finds it less than surprising that even Americans like Sey rebelled. He mostly blames the way science was miscommunicated and politicized in public debate in this increasingly Trumpified country. “There needed to be consistency. Once you start straying from science and becoming inconsistent, people get confused. We saw people talking about school closures, and many of them were off in different directions. School closings were not a long-term solution. The increased politicization of science and public-health policy is largely a result of certain political leaders and certain TV personalities and anonymous social media accounts. What it does is, it damages — it causes chaos. You hear people saying, oh, they don’t know what to believe anymore.”

The question is: Where are we now? Along with the ongoing pandemic, are we experiencing a full-blown anti-government infection and is that, too, a symptom of “long Covid”? Or is the resistance to government mandates and vaccines simply a response to the Astroturfing of the rightwing echo chamber?

Or, in fact, both?

Conservatives have been smacking their lips over what they regard as signs of a resurgence of the flinty libertarian.  “A funny thing happened on our way to democratic socialism: America pushed back,” a Cato Institute commentary proclaimed earlier this year. “Across the country, in all sorts of ways, Americans reacted to the state’s activism, overreach, incoherence, and incompetence and… kinda, sorta, embraced libertarianism.” (Of course, that’s putting it in an all too kindly fashion.  Substitute, say, fascism and that statement feels quite different.)

Conservative commentator Sam Goldman, writing in the Week, hit the same note:

“As the pandemic has continued, opposition to restrictions on personal conduct, suspicion of expert authority, and free speech for controversial opinions have become dominant themes in center-right argument and activism. The symbolic villain of the new libertarian moment is Anthony Fauci.”

It’s not clear that this represents a lasting trend. An October 2021 Gallup poll found that American’s attitudes reverted from a desire for more government intervention at the outset of the pandemic in 2020 to essentially where they had been when Donald Trump was elected in 2016.  Since the 1990s, Gallup has been polling American preferences when it comes to the role of government in our lives. The long-term graph shows regular mood swings, although those between 2020 and 2021 were unusually steep.

Note as well that the American response to pandemic regulations differed strikingly from the European one. A study published earlier this year in the European Journal of Political Research explored attitudes in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom, specifically the role of emotions in the way people responded to restricted civil liberties during the pandemic years (including restricted movement through Covid phone apps and army-patrolled curfews). Fear of contagion, not surprisingly, was the chief emotion and that fear led to a striking willingness to accept more government restrictions on civil liberties.

In Europe, safety won. In this country, it seems not. I haven’t seen similar research here (though there has been some suggesting that, in the Trump era, fear has been the driving emotion in individuals who lean right).  It certainly seems as if the American response to the pandemic wasn’t to accept more restrictions on civil liberties, not at least when it came to masks and vaccine mandates.

But look more closely and you’ll see something else, something far more deeply unnerving. In these last months, even as masks have come off and booster shots have gone in all too few arms, there has been an unprecedented assault on other civil liberties. Red-state lawmakers are attacking the civil rights of women, gays, and minorities with unprecedented ferocity.  In its landmark upcoming ruling that will, it seems, overturn Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court driven rightward by three Trump appointees has now apparently agreed that there is no right to privacy either.

As political journalist Ron Brownstein pointed out recently, conservative statehouses in red states “are remaking the American civil liberties landscape at breathtaking speed — and with little national attention to their cumulative effect.” In the process, they are setting back the civil-liberties clock in America to the years before what legal scholars called the “rights revolution” of the 1960s.

The speed and urgency with which right-wing judges and legislators are embracing a historic anti-liberty enterprise suggests panic and fear. This anti-freedom movement, ultimately, is not a response to the actions of the federal government or the CDC. It emanates from the frightened souls of the very people who have been shrieking about totalitarianism whenever they see a mask.

Now, excuse me for a moment, while I put my mask on and face an American world in which the dangers, both pandemic and political, are rising once again.

Copyright 2022 Nina Burleigh

Nina Burleigh, a TomDispatch regular, is a journalist of American politics and the author of six previous books. Her seventh, Virus: Vaccinations, the CDC, and the Hijacking of America’s Response to the Pandemic (just published by Seven Stories Press) is a real-life thriller that delves into the official malfeasance behind America’s pandemic chaos and the triumph of science in an era of conspiracy theories and contempt for experts.

59 comments

      1. Could not agree more. What is this trash on SP? While there are SOME points of view that have merit and could have been explained in a less hysterical manner others were ridiculous. It feels like a big pharma the right is the boogeyman piece. What is WITH these articles that reek or moral superiority for getting the vax. Lady your trust in the science and the medical system may be unfounded. Corruption and greed can creep in, even in this ‘unbiased’ field.

        Also

        “relatively mild pandemic public-health measures instituted by the CDC” forcibly shutting down small businesses and closing schools are not mild measures. CDC laid the framework for these types of action.

        This terrible article has a click bait buzzfeed vibe.

        I expected more from sheer post

  1. Sorry, but how can you call vaccines “effective” with recently released Pfizer data?

  2. This column is absolute BS. Science wasn’t “miscommunicated,” it was totally perverted by moneyed interests. The threat from the virus, the death rate, and the effectiveness of the vaccines were all exaggerated, some greatly. Get the damn pharmaceutical money out of the science and try being honest, then people will believe you. But if you try to keep everyone frightened so they’ll take a vaccine in order to enrich the pharmaceutical industry, you have no credibility and don’t deserve to be believed.

  3. booster shots into all too few arms? You’re mad.

    It’s a great mishmash of a wandering wordburp that doesn’t seem to know where it is going or what point it is trying to make but just revels in off-the-cuff libels and denigrations whenever it feels like it.

    Doesn’t know and never says but I think such ‘point’ as it may have is all contained in the last line and particularly in the words ‘….put my mask on…’

    And they point quite clearly, without any doubt whatever, to a science illiterate, biased and prejudiced, living in a fantasy world…

    How on earth did you ever get published here….?

    And why? What do you hope to achieve beyond public ridicule?

    1. Not sure what is happening to ScheerPost but I’ve seen it at DemocracyNow and the Guardian. Perhaps some oligarch threw some money at them and said yo get it you must publish this and that. Sad. Poor journalism.

  4. Masks do not protect anybody, several scientific studies proved that. If somebody wears a mask, it is for virtue signaling or ignorance….or both.

    1. Whoa, nobody? Do you even know how disease works? We can argue about effectiveness, virtue signaling, etc., but to make blanket statements like this which are clearly untrue is just silly, or cynical.

      1. Thanks for publishing the article. Keep them coming!

        The nearly uniformly negative response here shows how necessary it was. Shows how much of the Left abandons science and common sense in its virtue-signaling of extreme, smug, navel-gazing knee-jerk “criticism” and rejection defining Leftism. Of “fight the power” – as a fantasy role playing game. And how easily, how easily the Left thus allows itself . . . rather begs and pleads to be manipulated by the reactionary oligarchy.

      2. Moderator should moderate not act as a finger wagging nanny.

      3. The commenter is accurate. It’s been absolutely clear for decades that any mask that can be purchased by the person on the street is absolutely ineffective at stopping the spread of any virus. ALL large RCTs show that. That is why masks were not part of the pandemic plan before COVID. They are virtue signaling theatre, nothing more. This is true of N95s as well. The cheapest mask effective against a virus costs $800.

      4. @Linda Hagge
        Please link to some peer-reviewed studies, or at least their conclusions. Everything I’ve heard from people who know what they’re talking about said that N95 masks are very effective in protecting the wearer against COVID-19. This is what was said at the beginning of the pandemic, and what is still said. There was also a recent study showing that N95 masks were over 90% effective in protecting the wearers.

        Please explain the following: COVID-19 is an aerosolized virus that is spread by droplets, both microscopic and macroscopic. Considering that, how could wearing a mask not help prevent the spreading of the virus? At the very least, the macroscopic droplets won’t penetrate the mask.

        What you’re claiming is completely contrary to everything I’ve read or heard. I’m not saying that you’re wrong, but if you’re going to make claims that go against what is commonly accepted, you should provide some CREDIBLE evidence, not just make outrageous statements.

      5. Moderator: My suggestion would be to not run pieces regarding the Covid virus or vaccinations on this site. The responses are beyond bizarre from my perspective. Thanks for trying though.

      1. No, it is not. Surgical masks are meant to stop gross droplets, nothing more, and they don’t even work for that. Numerous studies have shown that wearing surgical masks has no positive benefit in surgery.

  5. It is disheartening that Scheerpost would publish this ignorant virtue-signaling piece of theatre. It has about as much to do with science as my Aunt Fanny. To this author The Science (TM) is anything promulgated by someone calling himself an “expert.” No understanding here of what science actually is or how it progresses, only in getting as many people as possible to follow the current narrative.

  6. If this is an example of how Social Democrats reason, i understand a little more why the German Social Democrats voted for the war credits for Germany to participate in WW1…
    I await your well reasoned article about why the US/NATO should pre-emptively use (tactical) nuclear weapons against Russia for invading the Ukraine…

  7. Calling “vaccines” a success story is a bit off the mark. When researchers in Cambridge developed a Coronavirus shot it decided to offer the formula free to the world. Bill Gates who more or less owns WHO and Cambridge (he spreads money everywhere he wants influence) called and made it clear that Cambridge must go through pharmaceutical AztecZeneca instead. God forbid the people should ever get healthcare for free! Gates is evil and wants to control agriculture and healthcare throughout the world.
    Another thing, even if doctors want to call any shot that stops a virus a “vaccine,” it isn’t technically. A vaccine has a bit of the disease in it. We always say “flu shot,” because flu is a virus, as is Covid19. The first vaccine was for Cow Pox.

  8. I support this website 100%, but this article is absolute garbage and should not be posted. This author is very questionable and her overt agenda using ‘double-speak’ to support censorship is pretty messed up.

  9. Your article addresses the major outcome of this ” Pandemic”. Whatever your views on its real risk to Public Heath it has allowed the Authorities to impose total control.This has been attempted before in human histor but has never achieved such a completeness. With the new electronic surveillance systems firmly in place a effective dis-empowerment of the people has been implemented and a dystopian world has been created in front of our very eyes. The surveillance
    State was already structurally in place before, but the ’emenrgenncy’has provided a very convenient opportunity for comprehensive implemention.The real fear is that the Authorities will NEVER relinquish their newly acquired power and we are now permanently enslaved to their will.

  10. Ditto to the other commenters who say this article is garbage. It’s a garbage info fire, and the “misinformation” police should put it out, but it’s their KIND of fire.

  11. You left out what I consider the most important factor that influenced resistance to COVID restrictions which is that the US split its populace into two classes: the wealthy work from home laptop class & the so-called “essential workers” (consisting mostly of lower income service workers) who were perceived as disposable human beings.
    The class war intensified as the laptop class ordered in their groceries, etc. to be delivered by the disposable humans risking their lives for those who via money and position placed themselves above the invisibilized servant class.
    Did we get a meager $15/hr minimum wage during this time? HELL NO
    Did we get Universal Healthcare during a pandemic? HELL NO
    It seems obvious to me, that when a country treats the majority of of its citizens (and YES – the majority of Americans ARE working class) – despite virtually zero representation within mainstream media, that quite logically, that those comprising the majority class, no longer respect nor believe that a government that purports to represent them, DOES NOT CARE ABOUT people without money and power.
    So why should they trust the very people who deem them as disposable?

  12. The problem is, of course, it’s complicated. The right and left are owned by monopolies, as are science and medicine, but that doesn’t mean that science and medicine aren’t real and don’t provide benefits. Corruption is rampant; COVID was played down, not inflated. Having a medical degree and another in my household is helpful in sorting out the literature. US citizens haven’t had privacy for years. Minority rule is firmly in place and looks to remain. As I am high risk in a high risk household, I will get all the boosters I can and keep wearing my N95. I hate it, but I’d rather not die or be more sick than I already am. I don’t know anyone who would have practiced the way I did, and I’m hoping I generated enough karma to allow me to continue on a bit longer, putting out whatever good I can in the world and enjoying some as well. My condolences to those who lost loved ones and to those many many patients struggling with long COVID. It’s not over. Masks help. The vaccines help. They are safe. Help yourself and others by using these privileges we have access to that others may not.

    1. I totally agree with your comment. Not willing to risk my life or the lives of those around me — I am immuno-compromised and vaccinated – a retired health-care worker. Thank you.

    2. @Anon MD
      Sorry bub, but the truth is the exact opposite of what you said. Both the virus and the effectiveness of the vaccines were exaggerated, greatly so in some cases. For example, the government has admitted that it counts people dying WITH COVID-19 as people dying FROM it, which of course greatly inflates the number of deaths from it. This example is not a conspiracy theory, the government has admitted this to the press and in public.

      Here are the relevant facts:

      1. The pharmaceutical industry contributes millions of dollars each year to political candidates and campaigns.

      2. The pharmaceutical industry also spends millions of dollars each year on advertisements in mainstream/corporate/establishment media.

      3. People who are made afraid of getting a potentially deadly virus will do what they are told by the government and the propaganda media in order to try to avoid getting the virus.

      4. The pharmaceutical industry has made tens of billions of dollars from their COVID-19 vaccines. Pfizer made 1/4 of its income in 2021 from those vaccines, and Pfizer is a big corporation that does a lot of different things.

      5. The politicians and media propagandists who get money from the pharmaceutical industry spewed all sorts of lies and propaganda throughout this pandemic, including how deadly it is, and including censoring the fact that there were treatments, the latter because effective treatments would have prevented the pharmaceutical industry from getting emergency permission for the vaccines.

      I’m pretty much done with this idiotic debate. You can either consume propaganda like a sheep (no insult to naturally evolved sheep, it’s just a term I’m using), or you can look at what unbiased unbought scientists say and think for yourself. Top scientists who are not beholden to the pharmaceutical industry or any other establishment entity have said and are saying totally different things than you’re saying, and I’ll go with them any day over some random M.D. who’s old & retired.

  13. This …

    In terms of hubris and scale, though, the totalitarian dystopia to beat has been China.

    . . . is suppurating, gangrenous fecal-larded garbage.

    China has taken the kind of stern steps necessary to protect its people, whether all of them are in total agreement or not.

    We can contrast this with the immature, vacuous, shit-for-brains mis-steps and goofy ideas allowed to fester in the West and needlessly kill millions.

    No, genius, the PRC is NOT going to just let COVID rip through its billions-plus population.

    Taking the pain now to get the benefit later is the mark of both mature individuals and societies, and the Western “free” model substitutes the bawling of an adolescents who refuse to clean of their room for adult behavior.

    As Chris Hedges has mentioned in other venues — large numbers of Americans have been infantilized — people with holes in their budgets persuaded to “think” like Elon Musk.

  14. This article is completely out of place with the morning readings from SheerPost. Few here read the mainstream media. There are so many contradictions and outright lies in this publication, that all of us commenting, are thoroughly surprised to find it here.

  15. my son just traveled to Ireland for work, unmasked, and promptly caught Covid. He isolated for a full week before he finally tested negative. Fortunately, he’s a remote worker & the hands-on stuff he came to do was delayed in shipping

    1. What actually is your point? Many more masked people went to Ireland and did get positive PCR. Many unmasked others who traveled to Ireland stayed healthy.

      So what does it mean? NOTHING.

      CDC finally stated that COVID like flu is endemic and hence won’t be eradicated, never and that like in case of endemic flu usage of 99% of all commercial face masks is futile for healthy people.

      CDC never recommended face masks for flu or common cold (no lockdowns either) unless you are already sick and use specific masks to reduce spread of large (200+ micron) droplets not aerosol of viral particles of 2 micron size.

      All that is not my opinion it is CDC’s.

  16. Nina should have been reading and absorbing Robert F. Kennedy’s book

    “The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Bug Pharma and the Global War in Democracy snd Public Health”

    rather than writing her book and this column.

    And it wasn’t mere “chafing at the pandemic restrictions” — study after study has conclusively demonstrated that neither masks nor social distancing had *any effect whatsoever* in reducing transmissibility of the flu-like Covid 19 virus or reducing the IFR infection fatality rate.

    It was herding, corralling and seeing how obediently the population would Sieg Heil to the new bio normal — the first time in human history that the well were quarantined rather than the sick.

    Like Nina, I *might* mask up in the closed aluminum tube of a passenger aircraft were I such a world traveler as she is – leaving a giant carbon footprint – but simply to avoid colds and such.

    Her childlike continued obedience to TheScienceTM and St. Fauci in keeping the mask on appears to be more like vanity and virtue signaling and showing bourgeois tribal allegiance than any health-based rationale.

    This feelings-based rather than evidence- and research-based continuation of Covid and bio security state agitprop makes me totally disinclined to even read reviews of her book let alone the book itself.

    Nina’s point of view is well represented in the corporate capitalist de facto state propaganda narrative media and is therefore *not* appropriate for either ScheerPost or TomDispatch. Let her submit it to the nyt or wapo, NOT alternative truth seeking media.

    Nina should also read and absorb

    “The Rise of the New Normal Reich” by CJ Hopkins,

    a stunning new book about how massive lying by GloboCap weaponized Covid to act better than a Harry Potter sorting hat to browbeat the human species into a WEF Davos corral snd livestock chute separating baaing sheep from bleating goats.

    1. @Thomas+Prentice
      I mostly agree with you, but saying that masks don’t work to prevent infection is wrong, or at best highly inaccurate. N95 masks are very effective at preventing the wearer from contracting the virus, and if both the infected person and people around them wear masks, it’s almost as effective as someone wearing a mask for self-protection. Scientists said from the very beginning of the pandemic that N95 masks were the most effective, and that hasn’t changed.

      1. Sorry, it should read:
        if both the infected person and people around them wear cloth masks, it’s almost as effective as someone wearing an N95 mask for self-protection.

    2. Thank you for mentioning RFK Jr’s chilling book on Fauci. Nobody mentioned that the attempted kidnapping of MI govenor was orchestrated by the FBI, and for that reason (to my knowledge) all charges were dropped. So, we have an unaccountable, out of control national security state that entraps people to scare the general public into submission, and this author wonders why so many people view our completely disfunctional federal government as the true danger? Let’s get real. They want us dead, red and blue. Watch what happens over the next year as more people realize that very ugly truth.

      1. @jho blho
        Cops have been getting away with entrapment for decades, usually regarding drug sales. Disgusting immoral practice, but nothing new.

  17. To add to the consensus of comments here – what a steaming dogpile!! Does this now mean that scheerpost has sold out, too? – sneaking an overtly narrative stroking polemic into an ostensibly reliable source of honest information to see how it flies??

    Really! Scheerpost.com’s credibility can only sink publishing crap like this. sheesh!!

  18. Can’t the conservative but mentally normal wing of US politics get a stout brush and sweep the steps free of the Qanon, Antivaxxer, John Birch, raving loony garbage or is that their only electoral base?

    What the hell is wrong with a mask. I wore one 6 hours a day as a surgeon – not to avoid getting the patient*s enteritis but to prevent him getting my oral flora in his operation sore. It’s called altruism. Try it. You can get off on it and it works. Maybe an arch republican nut job would like me to avoid a mask on libertarian grounds when I replace his hip joint and give him some of my cocci in the sore!
    You may have a ridiculous constitutional right to carry a machine gun but you don’t have to shoot if you feel offended. Try to get your phobias under control.

    1. Dr. Lewis- with whom I’ve disagreed civilly before, but agree here.
      That procedural mask, sez the fearful majority, is just virtue signaling.
      This hostile reaction to a Tom’s Dispatch writer has sorted out some sheep and goats for me, and I’ll refer back to this thread to judge who is competent or not. Yes, the Biden gang is 30 years behind the times, but the Trump gang is still fighting the Civil War. Capitalism is our main adversary. And it is the Capitalist Elite that is sponsoring the rise of American Fascism.

      Yep, Ms. Burleigh is a somewhat conventional (Time, Newsweek and People writer) and more or less a Democrat. But her opinion (is only her opinion) is not a steaming dogpile, BS, garbage, rubbish, or unfit for the Scheerpost content. Her opinion is submitted as a departure point for reasoned and humane civil discourse. When I criticized the discussion between Scheer and Patrick (not the late Alexander) Cockburn over the weekend I worried that Scheerpost had been intimidated by the “administrative state” because that’s the present state of affairs. (official censorship) But I didn’t fly off the handle and begin to make false and unproven assertions like some did here today. (thanks for speaking up, Moderator, whomever you may be) In fact, this article was about the distrust that makes good hearted people mistakenly fearful and resentful of the only health measures available. Yes, there is favoritism and profiteering but that is normal under our market system that promotes inequality. I have had a near death experience and major surgery during Covid so I’ve been in the medical system doing my research. Yes, Bill Gates is a sick bitch overlord but that’s not gonna deter me from protecting my health and that of those around me.
      There remain many caring doctors and health care workers. If not, we’d have had many more deaths.

      It’s people like Trump Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle who risk public health and do some killing. Libertarian freedom is the freedom to starve, freeze , remain ignorant and die untreated. It’s way too late for the Davy Crockett ideology , especially when society is so interdependent, even at a community level. And when they talk about mass shootings in our sick media they always seem to blame the Internet rather than the makers and sellers of guns. Falling back into a dependence on large scale conspiracy theories is easy fun but it doesn’t excuse you from taking responsibility at human scale. In fact, if one of those plots were fact the only way we could resist is to trust one another.

      Robert Scheer is an elderly reporter and certainly not infallible. He admits it. This site is newspaperish or Rampartsish. It has to involve a spectrum of opinion just to attract readers and contributors and to sort out issues. Those of us who expect it never to deviate from our personal beliefs are being silly.
      I think Anon MD and Ann Morrison have exhibited some level- headed cognition. It’s not common sense to call a view typical of most educated Americans a dogpile. That’ll get us nowhere.

      Goddamn it was difficult to write this, and I hope some can understand.
      The meanness I witnessed today makes me regret some of my own snarkiness. We can all do better if we care to.

  19. I stopped reading when I came to “I left my mask on”.

    What of value can possibly said after such an admission of irrational fear, ignorance, and obedience to invisible authority?

    1. It’s probably a good thing that you’ve stopped reading. (don’t)
      How about some iced tea and a cookie. Watch the birds and the squirrels awhile. Moses is probably old enough to sit on the mountain and observe the promised land he can never visit. It’s a person who fears a medical mask who is in panic. Are you eager to tongue kiss everyone at the ballgame? See, I can still be irate even with moderate position.

  20. Yes, and this author is an example – in answer to the title question.

    Good to see commenters in this little corner of cyberspace who aren’t falling for ‘following the science’ socially engineering us with such pathological lying and psyops as the plandemic, short- and long-term, has unleashed.

    I wonder if in their corners of the world there’s much actual, on-the-ground resistance for challenging the fuller agenda of what’s going down across the world.

    Not any to speak of where I live, and more than any of the many propaganda pieces like this one here on behalf of the covidian cult, it’s a cult of indifference to a wider world which most seems to threaten our very survival as human beings, a kind of universal alienation ripe for the absolute repression of all things human which this world war is all about.

  21. Thanks for the comments injecting reason here from John R, Moderator, Ed Wilson, Ann Morrison, Anon MD, BabaYaga, Dyfan Lewis MD and Red Hornet.

    1. Calgacus this is a perfect demonstration of brainwashing and cognative dissonance. Your beliefs and opinions are wrong and are harming truth and science. I do not want to live in your world of falsehood and lies. Its hard to believe humanity is at this point

  22. Scheerpost seems to have changed. I have noticed a decrease in the integrity and objectivity from both writers and commenter’s regarding the full range of content. People seem to be struggling to recognize the complete, systematic failure of all institutions to provide even the most basic socio-economic nourishment and environmentally sustainable infrastructure. The system is rotten and the most of the perspectives here indicate people putting bandaids on corpses. Any debate revolves around the where, when and what to do about the bandaid but nobody is willing to talk about truth that it’s a corpse. And bandaids are useless now. Try mourning.

  23. The Covid political and economic policies’ hysteria of last years devastated mostly western societies and draconian measures of social control embraced by Ruling elites worldwide wiped out last shred of democratic process and most of sacred right to individual autonomy that in fact was a moral foundation of system that produce Roe vs Wade and abortion rights

    Now the same people who among Covid hysteria condemned individual right to bodily autonomy and intellectual and social autonomy which is a foundation of any democratic system lament about possible SCOTUS rejection of the same individual autonomy in regard to abortion.

    You guys opened the door with Draconian Covid police state and by that foolishly lost precious right to bodily autonomy you held sacred.

    Second is the question of authority, recently implied infallibility of medical professions (Covid immunity from prosecution and rampant medical censorship ) that suffered probably fatal blow incited by administrative zealots and opportunists like Fauci who made millions on every supposedly unbiased scientific stand he ever promoted in the position of government
    authority in his life.

    Sorry doctors but your reputation collapsed, your expertise are now widely questioned. As as results of lost of trust millions suffer and even die.

    Simply many people even those who still have insurance are afraid to go to doctor as they lost sense of their intimate bond with doctor not a government apparatchik bribed by corporate criminals. Millions no longer believe that doctors serve their own individual moral autonomy and their own individual health interests as informed advisors not dictators.

    Anyone has a sacred right to refuse any treatment if not we are all living in fascist state.

    The highly scientific Nazi regime where hundreds of thousands doctors became members and sympathizers of NSDAP social polices based on solid science accepted worldwide including the western medical elites, they all still violated fundamental human dignity which includes bodily autonomy and moral autonomy as they implement strict government policies and abandoned their sacred duty only to patients’s autonomy and welfare. I wonder whose interests doctors are serving by becoming big Pharma drug pushers as they are serving corporates in expense of individual patient commitment.

    Documentary “Nazi Nurses” featuring victims of mainstream medicine at that time treated by licensed doctors that Nuremberg code described as criminal acts violating basic human right to dignity and moral and bodily autonomy including asking victims if such horrible violations of human rights can happen again. The answer was: it is happening now. It was in 2018.

    1. @Kalen
      The anti-abortionists on the Supreme Court would have struck down Roe regardless of the COVID-19 situation. The pandemic had no effect on that ruling, other than to highlight the hypocrisy that you pointed out.

  24. The truth is that the American people take this less seriously that other Countries, because of the Ultra right telling people that mandating masks is infringing on our rights. I was in Mexico for a while, and they take it way more seriously than we do, You can’t get into stores , markets, doctor offices or Govt offices withou a mask, and they take your temperature!!! And nobody complains!! In fact even little,mom and d pop stores won’t let you in. simple , they don’t want to get COVID-19!!!

  25. This statement in your piece “authorities there disappeared doctors, silenced the citizenry; and in a harrowing fashion nailed the doors of homes and apartment buildings shut” really requires additional source references. To quote an anti-China dissident’s book from a man who hasn’t been to China in more than a decade to make such claims is poor journalism in my view. A prominent Chinese physician who was allegedly “disappeared” in China, mysteriously showed up 2 years later complaining about botched eye treatment she received at a hospital. Sounds like CIA disinformation where stories claim that North Korea executed high ranking officials only to have them show up months later at public events. I couldn’t find any substantiation of “nailing doors shut”, just some isolated, random videos of bars being installed over doors, yet none of the windows had them. Apparently once the authorities found out they were removed. Silencing anti-establishment voices is common in America, witness all the social media censoring and Assange’s imprisonment without trial. The author made no mention of the MILLIONS of lives saved by the Chinese approach to the pandemic that was far superior to anything in the West.

    1. @George prudent
      I would always be totally skeptical about negative stories regarding anyone the U.S. sees as an enemy. I don’t believe those stories unless I see some corroboration from sources not biased toward the U.S.

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