Double Standards and the COVID Crisis


by Kerry Dougherty

You want to know why some of us are so cynical about the Covid crisis?

It’s the double standards. The lack of consistency. The shifting goalposts. Officials saying one thing and doing another.

We saw a glaring example of the latter it here in Virginia in May, when the Governor — who’d been quick to order shutdowns, and who was nagging us about social distancing and wearing masks — was seen prancing down the Boardwalk and leaning in for selfies. Maskless. Clueless.

Then there’s been the thorny issue of funerals.

Not OK

Ever since crowd limits were imposed, thousands of Americans buried their dead without proper funerals. Yet those same grieving families could turn on the news to see hundreds turning out for the funerals of George Floyd in Houston and Rep. John Lewis in Atlanta.

I don’t begrudge Floyd and Lewis the sort of sendoffs they deserve, but don’t the families of ordinary Americans who had the misfortune of dying during this health crisis deserve the same? Their grief is just as real.

Next there’s the issue of protests and demonstrations. While governors across the country were quick to stomp on the constitutionally protected rights of churchgoing folks — shoot, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently banned singing and chanting in California churches — they’ve been reluctant to deal similarly with anarchists who swarm the streets to break windows, torch cars, attack police or topple statues.

New flash: COVID-19 doesn’t know the difference between protests and church services.

Now get this. Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington DC recently announced a mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone coming to the District of Columbia from Covid hot spots such as Georgia. Then, she promptly waived that rule for anyone returning from Congressman John Lewis’ Atlanta funeral.

Look, either Georgia is dangerous or it’s not, Mayor. You can’t have it both ways.

What am I saying? Of course she can have it both ways. Executives have been getting away with capricious enforcement of rules since March.

Finally, on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before Congress about the pandemic and was grilled by Rep. Jim Jordon of Ohio about protests and whether they spread the virus.

It was an astonishing moment. The doctor who’s been the ringmaster of the pandemic, scolding states for not shutting down, or for opening too fast, telling football fans that there shouldn’t be a season this fall and suggesting that we should be wearing goggles in addition to masks, developed a sudden, uncharacteristic reticence to offer advice.

Here’s an account of the exchange from

Jordan argued that permitting protests while cracking down on church services amounts to favoring one First Amendment liberty over another. He asked Fauci whether the protests are spreading coronavirus.

“Crowding together, particularly when you’re not wearing a mask, contributes to the spread of the virus.” Fauci responded.

“Should we limit the protesting?” Jordan continued.

“I’m not in a position to determine what the government can do in a forceful way,” Fauci responded.

“I haven’t seen people during a church service go out and harm police officers or burn buildings,” Jordan continued. “No limit to protests, but you can’t go to church on Sunday.”

Jordan said Fauci had advocated for “certain businesses to be shut down, arguing that he hadn’t “seen one hair stylist who, between haircuts, goes out and attacks police or sets something on fire, but we’ve seen all kinds of that stuff during protests and we know the protests actually increased the spread of the virus. You’ve said that.”

“I said crowds,” said Fauci. “I didn’t say protests do anything … Crowds are known, particularly when you don’t have a mask to increase the acquisition and transmission.”

Would it kill America’s vaunted health expert to point out the obvious: The virus spreads at protests and demonstrations and that it would be really good if people refrained from rioting for the duration of the pandemic?

Nah, it’s not Fauci’s style to criticize the reckless behavior of the left. That leaves some of us cynics wondering if this really is all about a virus.

This column was republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

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