Rabbi Jeremy Kridel, whose flock in the capital includes several members of my family, was leading a recent Shabbat service for Humanistic Jews. About 10 minutes into the service, one man unmuted himself and started shouting “Jewish scum” and “Heil Hitler.” Before he could be blocked from the call, he lifted up his shirt to reveal a large swastika tattooed on his chest.
Other hooligans began interrupting, and while the rabbi shut down the virtual service, another man dropped his pants on camera. Remarked Kridel: “This is just another indication of the fact that the current crisis isn’t the only one we face.”
We see the best of America in the health-care workers and first-responders risking (and sometimes losing) their lives to help others. But we also see the pathologies that have surfaced (or recurred in new mutations) during Trump’s presidency: the scapegoating of religious minorities, attacks on science and scientists, and promotion of globalist conspiracy theories (in this case, that the World Health Organization conspired with communist China to conceal the virus).
This country’s woeful response to the virus has an obvious cause: a president who refused to heed warnings and to prepare, instead offering false assurances while the nation snoozed. Even now, inexcusable delays limit tests, ventilators and respirators, and even now President Trump resists a nationwide stay-at-home order.
But it’s painful for some to put the responsibility where it belongs. Christian broadcaster Rick Wiles, therefore, took a different tack. He blamed the Jews. “God is spreading it in your synagogues! You’re under judgment because you oppose his son, the Lord Jesus Christ,” he proclaimed on his TruNews platform. This is the same Rick Wiles who in November called Trump’s impeachment a “Jew coup.” And this is the same Rick Wiles whose TruNews outlet was granted press credentials by the Trump administration to cover the World Economic Forum in January; Wiles stayed in a room booked by the administration.
Others follow Trump’s lead in blaming scientists for our woes. As The Post first reported, the government had to step up security for Anthony Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert at the National Institutes of Health and the most visible scientist responding to the crisis. Threats had been made against the 79-year-old doctor, who frequently contradicts Trump’s uninformed happy talk. Fauci has been attacked by pro-Trump outlets such as Gateway Pundit and American Thinker, which labeled Fauci a “Deep-State Hillary Clinton-loving Stooge.” The dark-web conspiracy theorists from QAnon and the like do worse to Fauci, a loyal public servant under every president since Ronald Reagan.
Still others try to distract from the Trump administration’s failures by blaming a globalist conspiracy. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) demanded an investigation into the WHO for “helping Communist China cover up a global pandemic.” Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, former Trump U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Tom Cotton (Ark.), Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and pro-Trump outlets such as the Federalist and Breitbart have proclaimed similar sentiments.
It’s fair to criticize WHO’s hesitation to declare a pandemic, and its credulity in sharing China’s claims and praising its efforts. But if the WHO had harshly attacked the Chinese response, we would have gotten even less cooperation and information out of China.
The WHO began working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Jan. 1 — a day after China disclosed the virus — and sent out advisories to worldwide public-health leaders beginning Jan. 5. Its scientists first got into Wuhan on Jan. 20, and on Jan. 23 it warned of a 4 percent death rate, human-to-human transmission and potential exporting of the virus to “any country.” The WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, visited Beijing and secured permission for a dozen scientists, including from the CDC, to tour the affected areas from Feb. 16 to Feb. 24.
The scientists issued a report warning that the virus is “spreading with astonishing speed” and called for governments to “immediately activate the highest level of national response,” including immediate and extensive testing and planning for closing schools and workplaces.
And yet, Trump slept. “One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” he said on Feb. 28.
He blew it. Not the scientists, not the WHO, and not the Jews.
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