Fear has a nasty habit of driving logic and common sense out of the room. From Peter Van Buren at theamericanconservative.com:
In the 1980’s, agenda-driven panic around the HIV epidemic set back the public health response by years.
Nothing is more viral than fear. Fear—fight or flight–is a terrible way to make decisions that call for time, science, and rational thinking. Want to screw up a public health crisis? Let fear drive.
Democrats, Pavlovian conditioned by years of believing everything Trump does is “an existential threat,” are about twice as likely as Republicans to say the coronavirus poses an imminent danger. Make a joke of it—pandemic or Dempanic—but one’s political party should not affect how we respond to an epidemic.
“Our hyper-polarization is so strong that we don’t even assess a potential health crisis in the same way. And so it impedes our ability to address it,” saidsaid Jennifer McCoy, a Georgia State political science professor who studies polarization.
“I am not scared of Covid-19,” Abdu Sharkawy, an infectious disease expert at the University of Toronto in Canada, wrote. “I am scared about the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic.”
This is not about downplaying something serious. It is about preventing mistakes that will make things worse. Trump Derangement Syndrome might actually help kill us this time, as fear makes for poor public health decisions. Remember the 1980’s?
In 1981 the CDC reported five cases of a new pneumonia. The disease didn’t even have a name until the next year, and wasn’t isolated in the lab until 1984. AIDS would go on to kill over 500,000 Americans. Yet while a horrible disease and a miserable way to die, in retrospect “the problem with AIDS was really two epidemics—the real health epidemic and the epidemic of the mind,” said Boston’s WBZ-TV station manager Tom Goodgame, quoted in Time. Meanwell, The New York Timesconcluded, “in the 1980’s, fear spread faster than AIDS.” America paid the price in lives.