Sauce for the Goose

In his New York Times column Bret Stephens pleads that we stop pointing fingers to assign blame for COVID-19:

Let’s quit arguing that Covid is a red- or blue-state thing. Yes, Republican areas have tended to have lower vaccination rates, but disease trends have a way of switching directions for reasons none of us really understands.

Let’s stop imputing bad faith or recklessness or greed to our partisan opponents. They have loved ones who are just as much at risk of infection as our own.

Let’s accept that people have needs and ideas that differ from ours, whether on account of health status, livelihood or deep-seated belief. Lectures, condescension and scorn aren’t going to change the way they think.

I have no idea what Omicron will bring, and very slight hopes that we’ll be able to exercise any effective form of control over it. But it shouldn’t be beyond asking that we stop being beastly to others. We are all riding out the same storm.

That plea follows a list, by no means exhaustive, of the finger-pointing going on. Let’s focus on just one, shall we?

Trump is responsible for hundreds of thousands of Covid deaths that might have been avoided if only someone else had been in the White House! But now Biden has presided over even more deaths, not that anyone should blame him for it.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. I think that Candidate Biden was out-of-bounds in blaming President Trump for the COVID-19 deaths on his watch but once he had said that it became completely fair game to blame President Biden for the COVID-19 deaths on his. It’s a near-perfect example of something I’ve held up as the gold standard: model in your own behavior the behavior you want to see in others.

Additionally, I think there’s a distinction that needs to be made between commission and omission. If the policies you put in place, the acts you commit, have adverse consequences, it should always and everywhere be completely fair to assign blame for them. However, if you are actually working with alacrity, blaming you for not doing enough should be out-of-bounds it is equally always and everywhere wrong to assign blame unless you have set the precedent by doing that to your political opponents.

“Myside bias” is an impediment in dealing with any realworld problem not just COVID-19 but it appears to be a dominant feature of today’s debate. IMO it’s a factor in the positions on wearing masks, lockdowns, vaccines, non-vaccine treatments, etc.

I also think that there was no real hope of containing or, indeed, doing anything but adapting to COVID-19 after around September 2019 and the issue quickly became tangled with national standing on the part of the Chinese. But that’s a topic far-removed from the point Mr. Stephens is making.

0 comments… add one

Leave a Comment