Donald Trump
Credit: The White House/Flickr

Jonathan Last of Bulwark has collected some of the more batshit insane theories about the coronavirus that are circulating on the right, and they are frightening to read. You might be surprised to learn from Rudy Giuliani that Anthony Fauci is responsible for the outbreak because he personally “gave $3.7 million to the Wuhan laboratory” where it supposedly originated and therefore “we paid for the damn virus that’s killing us.”

The saner theory, which is based in fact, is that U.S. Embassy in Beijing asked the Trump administration to give more money to that lab so they could make the facility secure, and they got turned down. Also, the Intelligence Community says they have no proof that the virus was created in that facility or that it escaped from there. Yet, if it did, that would be another example of Trump not listening to experts rather than proof that Anthony Fauci is responsible. Giuliani is taking something embarrassing and turning it around to deflect blame away from the president.

The One America News Network (OAN) prefers to cast a wider net.

Recent reports claim the remdesivir patent is controlled by mainland China, Bill Gates, and the WHO, while the Clintons may have a stake in it as well.

The entire cover-up is allegedly backed by globalist billionaire George Soros.

Remdesivir is a drug in development that might serve as a treatment for Covid-19, so I guess the theory here is that a bunch of “globalists” started a pandemic on purpose which shut down international travel and disrupted international commerce so they could make a bunch of money off a patent.

Then there’s the anti-vaccination crowd which has a variety of nutty theories, including that Anthony Fauci has been so effective in developing vaccines that he’s rendered our immune systems helpless to fight the novel coronavirus.

Lastly, however, the most interesting development comes from the group that is opposed to wearing masks.

If you want to end the lockdown immediately, then you will want to take any nominal precautions that will allow reopening as quickly as possible. Wearing a mask is a low-cost, high-benefit way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and hence make it possible to ease restrictions while lowering the chances of another outbreak.

But in reality, that is not what we’ve seen.

The people opposed to wearing masks are all in the camp that wants to open the economy now, irrespective of whether the scientists advise that it is safe.  Last’s explanation isn’t bad: “As America’s decadence has increased over the last 30 or so years…we have become—just objectively speaking—a less serious country.”

Perhaps this is a long-term trend, but the least serious person in the country is certainly the president. After Anthony Fauci testified to the Senate HELP Committee this week that school’s are not necessarily going to be safe to open in the fall and that children are not immune to the effects of the virus, Trump said, “Look, [Fauci] wants to play all sides of the equation. I was surprised by his answer actually, because, you know, it’s just to me—it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.” He added that “the only thing that would be acceptable” is giving older teachers and professors a few more weeks before they return “because this is a disease that attacks age, and it attacks health.”

According to the Financial Times, Trump believes that scientists exaggerate all the time, which is why he refused to ramp up testing or order ventilators. Rather, he took Jared Kushner’s advice that such precautions were unnecessary and would spook the stock markets.

On Thursday, Trump is celebrating a ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court which takes power away from the governor to manage the outbreak.

He is thereby betting heavily that Wisconsinites won’t have reason to rue this ruling when they go to the polls in November. In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf is doing what he can to make sure people know who to blame. Speaking of county executives who have defied his stay-at-home orders, Wolf remarked, “To those politicians who decide to cave in to this coronavirus, they need to understand the consequences of their cowardly act.”

There’s a reason that all this defiance is coming from the right. President Trump may have made a show of listening to his experts during his daily reality show Coronavirus Task Force press briefings, but he’s sent a clear message that he doesn’t believe that outbreak is as serious as they say and that the economy should not be in lockdown. He’s the leader here and he’s giving permission and encouragement to his followers to pursue every conspiracy theory and break every law.

Ipsos polling now shows Trump in thirties in his matchup with Biden, and I hope that is correct. I want to believe this country hasn’t become so decadent that it can’t be saved in November.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at