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Rise and fall of Fauci illustrates death of ‘expertise’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss the ongoing federal response to COVID-19 on May 11, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss the ongoing federal response to COVID-19 on May 11, 2021, in Washington, D.C. | Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Of all the institutions that have become radicalized in the last couple of years, the realm of medicine is perhaps the most disturbing.

What will our society look like when you can’t trust the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or even your doctor?

Dr. Anthony Fauci announced Monday that he will step down in December from his position at the National Institutes of Health, ending a tenure in public health policy that stretches back to the late 1960s.

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It’s a notable moment. Fauci’s long-term obscurity — followed by short-lived, media-driven stardom and then intense polarization — is illustrative of larger trends in American society.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board noted that other public health experts used Fauci, 81, to “lobby for broad economic lockdowns that we now know were far more destructive than they needed to be” and that Fauci advocated “mask and vaccine mandates that were far less protective than his assertions to the public.”

The Journal rightly highlighted the fact that Fauci’s name being widely recognized is a negative mark, not a positive one, of his tenure. It’s like being the long snapper in football: If people generally know who you are, it’s almost certainly because you messed up.

In the case of Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, he became a notable and polarizing figure because he seemed to make often dubious or at least wide-reaching political decisions while hiding behind his credentials. 

Again, as The Wall Street Journal explained, Fauci’s public and private comments suggest his ethos was that the public “is supposed to let a few powerful men and women define science and then impose their preferred policies and mandates on the country.”

It’s a philosophy that runs counter to the ideas of 1776 and the American founding, but many of Fauci’s bureaucratic and ideological ilk seem to have little problem with that.

The important matter to recognize here is how institutions and bureaucrats — like Fauci — seemingly have dropped the pretense of objectivity in favor of ideology and, in many cases, duplicity. 

To believe in science is also to believe in our new state ideology.

If the facts don’t line up with preferred outcomes, then fudge the facts and silence those who have doubts.

Perhaps paradoxically, the two-sided nature of Western institutions in the past few years — that claim to be guided by objectivity while becoming more nakedly ideological and partisan — is destroying the authority of institutions in the minds of the public. That’s certainly the case in the United States, where we are particularly prone to rebel against an unqualified pseudo-elite claiming a right to rule.

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were told by Fauci and other public officials that we had to lock down and suspend the most important parts of our lives — including going to church, weddings, and funerals — to stop the spread of the disease caused by the new coronavirus. 

However, when the Black Lives Matter-inspired protests erupted in the summer of 2020, many of those same officials and organizations suddenly said it was OK to gather in massive groups because stopping racism as they defined it was too important.

It only added salt to the wound that these “mostly peaceful” protests soon turned violent and caused enormous damage and loss of life in communities around the country.

Fauci became a hated figure on the right in part because of what he represented — the arrogant, corrupt, and often incompetent bureaucratic managerial class that believes it has a right to rule and make decisions for our society. 

Any figure or policy that strikes at the power of the managerial class — whether it be Donald Trump or civil service reform or school choice — is met with unhinged hostility. Resistance by the wrong types is a threat to “democracy.”

The fall of so many institutions at once puts conservatives in an unusual position. 

The instinct of a conservative is to preserve and perpetuate culture and institutions. We look to what has succeeded in the past and try to make it work for ourselves and posterity. That’s why the Constitution of the United States, though revolutionary in design as a written framework of government, is fundamentally conservative in the best sense.

What happens when institutions and the culture they seek to perpetuate are inherently revolutionary?

That is the reality of where Americans, and many of us in the West, find ourselves. Our institutions no longer perpetuate the general welfare and ideas that our societies were built on. These institutions increasingly are committed to radical societal transformation, and they think they can do it whether you like it or not, as a smarmy California politician once said.

And our institutions do this while obnoxiously holding to the façade of expertise and objectivity. We are supposed to believe, for instance, that the American Academy of Pediatrics is promoting “gender-affirming” care for children because of its commitment to good medicine and science.

However, it’s all too obvious that the academy’s “science” is working backward from ideology, that it would promote gender “transition” no matter what the facts said. Studies or physicians that say otherwise are ignored or, through the power of the academy’s allies in Big Tech, censored and banned.

Worse, every major health institution, professional organization, and government institution is following in lockstep. When a series of disturbing videos from Boston Children’s Hospital surfaced in which medical doctors advocated “gender-affirming hysterectomies” among other “treatments,” many were horrified.

This wasn’t a disturbing outlier, however. It’s the tip of the iceberg.

These ideas are simply what’s being pushed in America’s top medical schools, where the cult of diversity, equity, and inclusion now holds absolute sway with negligible dissent. It’s a double-edged sword, though.

As members of the institutions both tout and hide behind their credentialism, their obviously ideological positions shred the public’s faith in their credentials.

The rise and fall of Anthony Fauci is illustrative of this trend.

Sure, Fauci will retain his acolytes and super fans. But his actions and attitude have only drawn public attention to the rot and illegitimacy of American institutions, institutions that have squandered their reputations in the name of revolution. This is the real death of expertise. Death by suicide.

Originally published at The Daily Signal. 

Jarrett Stepman is a contributor to The Daily Signal and co-host of The Right Side of History podcast. He is also the author of the book The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America's Past.

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