virus protest

People protest Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home or-der Saturday at the Thompson Center in Chicago.People protest the governor's stay-at-home order at a rally outside Chicago's Thompson Center, May 16, 2020.

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From his home in the Philippines, veteran author, commentator and scourge of media-driven social hysteria Michael Fumento is watching and writing about the coronavirus pandemic playing out in the United States.

Fumento, a native of Champaign, military veteran and University of Illinois law graduate, is not impressed, as the headlines to his articles make clear.

“While COVID-19 Kills the Elderly, Panic is Killing Kids,” May 12, Issues & Insights.

“CDC Director on Hot Seat over his Predictions, Agency Performance,” May 11, Just the News.

“Sweden’s Semi-Lockdown: a Middle Way That Won’t Crash Their Economy,” April 8, The American Conservative.

“Coronavirus Going to Hit its Peak and Start Falling Sooner Than You Think,” March 8, New York Post.

“Don’t Buy the Media Hype over the New China Virus,” Jan. 23, New York Post.

Nothing if not prolific, Fumento has written a handful of books and long been willing to go against popular opinion when it comes to his analysis of social issues.

Fumento first made big news in 1993 when he wrote “The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS: How A Tragedy Has Been Distorted by The Media and Partisanship.” Initially controversial because of its premise debunking a variety of myths about AIDS and its potential victims, his work has since become widely accepted. A New York Times reviewer said the “arguments, statistics and perceptions that he adduces to support his position appear almost as irrefutable as they are controversial.”

Since then, he’s taken on subjects as diverse as the widely reported but false story of killer Toyotas — “mass sociogenic hysteria” — and anti-vaccine campaigns that threaten public health.

He has a similarly skeptical view of the coronavirus pandemic, taking the position that it’s “overwhelmingly a disease of the old and infirm” that has been falsely characterized as a threat to kills millions of people of all ages.

“To the extent that people are showing support for this mass incarceration, much is that they’ve been terrified into believing this is the Black Death Plus,” he said. “If they realized it’s on the level of flu, they’d feel otherwise.”

But he insists that more than just fear is involved. Fumento suggested the lockdowns have resulted in an imbalance of economic suffering and despair, one where lower-income people are losing jobs and entrepreneurs their business while others are unaffected.

“... Part of this is being driven by lots of Americans and others who get paid regardless of whether they work. For them, it’s just a long unpaid vacation,” he said. “Establish ‘No Pay for No Work’ and watch those levels of support drop. The more people who suffer now, the fewer who will suffer later on.”

Fumento is particularly skeptical of assertions, like the one from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, that life cannot be allowed to return to normal until a cure or a vaccine for the coronavirus is found.

Noting that “the quick vaccine for the 1976 ‘swine flu’ killed people,” he said “only one virus has a cure, Hep(atitis) C. So locking down until a vaccine (is found) will doom the world to a Great Depression. And, yes, a Great Depression is possible even if we unlock today. We never fully recovered from the Great Recession (of 2008-09). We were always a house of cards.”

Fumento’s firmly held views will anger many people who take the position that the safest, most closeted approach is best because everyone is at risk of illness and possible death from the virus. He said public opinion is even more divided on the response to the pandemic than “between pro- and anti-Trumpers.”

Fumento describes the lockdown approach as akin to a social effort to “democratize” the disease by suggesting everyone is at risk.

“... Like AIDS, there’s a tremendous effort to democratize the disease. We’re all in this together. No, we’re not,” he said. “Not for the virus; just for the government actions.”

He contends that that’s having a perverse effect of causing more deaths among the elderly than otherwise would occur if public-health resources were focused more intensely on the most vulnerable.

Fumento blames much of the problem on health officials who have “risen through the ranks by alarmism, beginning with AIDS.” He also puts a bulls-eye on the back of a news media that embraces alarmism by failing to put virus information in the proper context.

But another part of the problem, Fumento contends, is the increasingly timid character of American society, a “land of sniveling little coddled babies.”

“We’re now seeing that played out. People willing to surrender everything — liberty, the economy, their social mores — for feigned protection against a virus that is on the order of influenza,” he said.

Jim Dey is a staff writer for The News-Gazette. His email is jdey@news-gazette.com.

Opinions Editor

Jim Dey is a staff writer for The News-Gazette. His email is jdey@news-gazette.com.