A professor of pediatrics and molecular virology at Baylor College of Medicine is urging that criticisms of Dr. Anthony Fauci and other government scientists be prosecuted as hate crimes.
In a July 28 paper in PLOS Biology titled “Mounting antiscience aggression in the United States,” Peter Hotez writes that a “band of ultraconservative members of the US Congress and other public officials with far-right leanings are waging organized and seemingly well-coordinated attacks against prominent US biological scientists.”
Just out today, my latest in @PLOS @PLOSBiology discussing my perspective on a new phase of antiscience aggression in America: Targeting prominent US scientists, and why we should be concerned for the nation. https://t.co/LKriiz1C0a
— Prof Peter Hotez MD PhD (@PeterHotez) July 30, 2021
Hotez, who describes himself on Twitter as a “Vaccine Scientist-Pediatrician-Author-Combating Antiscience,” and often appears on MSNBC and CNN, adds, “In parallel, conservative news outlets repeatedly and purposefully promote disinformation designed to portray key American scientists as enemies.”
To combat what he calls “antiscience aggression,” Hotez suggests a number of ideas, including a total clamping down on alternate perspectives.
He recommends, for example, a bill called the Scientific Integrity Act of 2021 (H.R. 849), introduced in February by Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY).
The legislation, he says, would serve “to protect US Government scientists from political interference, but this needs to be extended for scientists at private research universities and institutes,” he adds.
“Still another possibility is to extend federal hate-crime protections,” he advises, and then continues with what appears to be a recommendation for a blackout of views opposing his own:
As Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once pointed out, neutrality or silence favors the oppressor. We must take steps to protect our scientists and take swift and positive action to counter the growing wave of far-right antiscience aggression. Not taking action is a tacit endorsement, and a guarantee that the integrity and productivity of science in the United States will be eroded or lose ground.
Hotez’s Twitter feed includes numerous retweets of other users’ praise for him:
— Captain Cliff (@ProperLookout) August 4, 2021
Dr. @PeterHotez is a national treasure. He’s been facing an increasing drumbeat of abuse from assholes like QT’d below, Fox News personalities and the like. His family is threatened. Hold these people accountable for their filth before something terrible happens. https://t.co/M8On0giidf
— Uncle Jimmy – Star Made of Garbage (@jneutron1969) August 3, 2021
Hotez mentions as an example of “antiscience aggression” House Republicans’ Select Subcommittee on the origins of COVID-19 “with the presumption that it was ignited by gain-of-function genetic engineering research from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
“Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) organized a roundtable in Milwaukee to highlight the rare adverse side effects from COVID-19 vaccines, as evening Fox News anchors promoted fake claims regarding deaths from COVID-19 vaccinations,” he adds as another example.
In April was more optimistic but the antiscience monster was just too powerful especially when it gained strength through being adopted by the far right
— Prof Peter Hotez MD PhD (@PeterHotez) August 4, 2021
Hotez summarizes the “aggression against science and scientists in America arises from three sources,” and identifies them as: “1) Far-right members of the US Congress, 2) the conservative news outlets and 3) a group of thought leaders who provide intellectual underpinnings to fuel the first two elements.”
He cites as the source of the COVID “antiscience aggression” the administration of former President Donald Trump, which he appears to compare to Nazi and fascist regimes:
Historically, such regimes viewed scientists as enemies of the state. In his 1941 essay, Science in the Totalitarian State, Waldemar Kaempffert, outlines details using the examples of Nazism under Hitler, Fascism under Mussolini, and Marxism and Leninism. For example, under Stalin, the study of genetics and relativity physics were treated as dangerous western theories, and potentially in conflict with official social philosophies of state.
The former White House, he writes, was “committed to policies of ‘America First,’” which, he says, “focuses on nativism, anti-immigration, and a foreign policy built around strong military build-up and deterrence, and confrontation with China.”
“A darker view links it to voter suppression, and loyalty tests to the former President that question the veracity of the 2020 Presidential election,” he adds.
“We must take steps to protect our scientists and take swift and positive action to counter the growing wave of far-right antiscience aggression,” Hotez urges.