The potential consequences of the origins of the virus are shattering – if they can ever be proved
Thomas Frank and Robert Gorter, MD, PhD.
June 1st, 2021
‘My own complacency on the matter was dynamited by the lab-leak essay that ran in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists earlier this month.’ (Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters)
There was a time when the Covid pandemic seemed to confirm so many of our assumptions. It cast down the people we regarded as villains. It raised up those we thought were heroes. It prospered people who could shift easily to working from home even as it problematized the lives of those Trump voters living in the old economy.
Like all plagues, COVID-19 often felt like the hand of God on earth, scourging the people for their sins against higher learning and visibly sorting the righteous from the unmasked wicked. “Respect science,” admonished our yard signs. And lo!, COVID-19 came and forced us to do so, elevating our scientists to the highest seats of social authority, from where they banned assembly, commerce, and all the rest.
We cast blame so innocently in those days. We scolded at will. We knew who was right and we shook our heads to behold those in the wrong playing in their swimming pools and on the beach. It made perfect sense to us that Donald Trump, a politician we all were obliged to despise, could not grasp the situation, that he suggested people inject bleach, and that he was personally responsible for more than one super-spreading event. Reality itself punished leaders like him who refused to bow to expertise. The prestigious news media even figured out a way to blame the worst death tolls on a system of organized ignorance they called “populism.”
In reaction to the fool Trump, liberalism made a cult out of the hierarchy of credentialed achievement in general.
But these days the consensus doesn’t consense quite as well as it used to. Now the media is filled with disturbing stories suggesting that COVID-19 might have come — not from “populism” at all,