A celebrity said something silly, got called out for it by a politician, and Berlingske seemed to think that deserved a story:
Fauci goes after Nicki Minaj for sharing vaccine skepticism
Berlingske.dk/Ritzau/DPA, Sep 16
The headline is what Dan Rather might call “fake but accurate.” It wasn’t general skepticism Fauci was going after, but a very particular claim Minaj had made.
This story had crossed my radar peripherally earlier in the week from American sources and I hadn’t thought much of it. Celebrities say a lot of silly things and our thin-skinned mandarin class is always crashing down on anyone presuming to question its holy doctrine.
But when I saw the article in Berlingske this morning, I thought I ought to dig a little deeper to see why on earth anyone there would think Danish readers would be interested in a little tiff between a pop star and the Chief Medical Adviser to the president of the United States.
In doing so, I noticed that Minaj had become entangled with British government figures as well, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson. There was no mention of that in the Berlingske article, but it was enough to persuade me that the story did deserve a closer look.
I made little notes over the course of the day based on the superficial stuff I’d seen, expecting to pull them together into a light little post later.
By late afternoon, however, things had spun so wildly out of control that most of my initial impressions were already outdated. The only thing I’d gotten right was that Berlingske had bungled the story—but let’s face it: when they’re covering America, that’s a given.
So with all that said, let’s take it one step at a time.
It starts out as a pretty simple story.
On Monday, pop star Nicki Minaj sent out a tweet saying: “My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied.”
Nicki Minaj has nearly 23 million followers, so the tweet got a lot of attention.
During a Tuesday interview about vaccine efforts, Anthony Fauci said on CNN: “There’s a lot of misinformation, mostly on social media, and the only way we know to counter mis- and disinformation is to provide a lot of correct information. To essentially debunk these kinds of claims, which may be innocent on her [Minaj’s] part. I’m not blaming her for anything, but she should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis.”
Fauci’s take is reasonable enough: there is no documentation of vaccine side-effects related to male or female fertility.
Fauci’s assertion that “the only way we know to counter mis- and disinformation is to provide a lot of correct information,” however, is a little hard to take from him, since he’s acknowledged perpetuating incorrect information when it suited him.
According to a July article from the (reliably left-wing) Slate:
In March 2020, as the pandemic began, Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the president of the United States, explained in a 60 Minutes interview that he felt community use of masks was unnecessary. A few months later, he argued that his statements were not meant to imply that he felt the data to justify the use of cloth masks was insufficient. Rather, he said, had he endorsed mask wearing (of any kind), mass panic would ensue and lead to a surgical and N95 mask shortage among health care workers, who needed the masks more. Yet, emails from a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that Fauci privately gave the same advice—against mask use—suggesting it was not merely his outward stance to the broader public.
In other words, he said that public masking was unnecessary, then claimed he had only said so to prevent a dangerous hoarding of masks, then it turned out he really had believed all along that public masking was in fact unnecessary.
(This, by the way, is more or less where the Berlingske article wraps things up. In an article published this morning. Keep that in mind as we move along.)
If Fauci truly believed, as many people did and still do, that public masking wasn’t an effective weapon against this particular pandemic, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t have said so back in March 2020.
The problem is that the public record leaves only two possibilities: either Fauci set his best medical judgment aside for political purposes, or he deliberately misled the American public for what he believed to be a noble purpose.
In neither case was he providing “correct information.”
So every time he opens his mouth, you have to ask yourself: is he telling the actual truth, is he just saying what his political masters demand, or is he deliberately misleading us with a benevolent motive? That’s not to say he’s an habitual liar, only that we know he’s willing either to put politics above medicine or to tell benevolent lies—or both.
Nicki Minaj’s tweet isn’t as complicated as all that, and requires no back story. It’s a textbook example of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy: that because something happened after something else, it must have happened because of it. (The post hoc fallacy is extra super-deluxe fallacious in stories about things that happened to friends of cousins in foreign countries.) She says her cousin’s friend got vaccinated, then his testicles swelled up and he became infertile and his fiancée dumped him. Minaj doesn’t offer any evidence that the vaccination caused the poor guy’s problems, she merely implies it.
Three out of ten human beings alive right now have been fully vaccinated. That’s more than 2.3 billion people. If swollen testicles and infertility were indeed a side effect of covid vaccination, there’s no way it could have been kept a secret. Even if the vaccination did cause Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s testicles to swell up and explode, that would be one case in 2.3 billion. (I’d say one in 1.15 billion to limit the pool of potential victims to men, but that would be a thoughtcrime: not everyone with testicles is a man, that’s hate talk!) For comparison: the odds of any given ticket winning the current Eurolotto jackpot of about nine million euros are currently one in 95 million.
Fauci and the other government health officials who rushed to assure the public that there’s no evidence of vaccinations causing fertility problems among men (or women) are therefore probably correct.
But because we know they’re desperate to get everyone vaccinated, and because Fauci himself has acknowledged a willingness to mislead the public to achieve his desired ends, and because we’ve seen the media crank out one fake story after another to support their collective belief that everyone should have to be vaccinated, I think it’s reasonable for people to take those assurances with a little skepticism. I don’t think it’s justified in this particular case, but it’s certainly reasonable.
And that’s where we hit the real problem: our establishment authorities are no longer willing to countenance skepticism.
Did you see Joe Biden’s announcement about the vaccine mandates?
The time for skepticism is over, comrades: Grandpa Joe has been patient long enough!
The Wall Street Journal editorial board did a pretty good job addressing some of the problems with Biden’s approach:
Mr. Biden’s logic is also contradictory. In his speech he stressed that the vaccinated are safe from serious Covid. Yet he said the unvaccinated must protect the vaccinated. In fact, the unvaccinated are mainly a danger to themselves and their loved ones who aren’t vaccinated.
The President blamed unvaccinated Americans for clogging up “emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack, or pancreatitis, or cancer.” This is false. Some hospitals have cancelled elective surgeries, but they’ve done so to ensure that people who need urgent care can get it—whether for Covid or something else.
He also berated governors for failing to protect their own citizens and who “are keeping us from turning the corner.” He mentioned no states by name, but he referred to those that barred mask mandates in schools. He means GOP states. But states with Democratic governors like Louisiana, North Carolina and Oregon have also experienced virus surges this summer, and few of them have imposed vaccine mandates.
Vaccination rates are also no better in big cities controlled by Democrats than in GOP states. In Miami-Dade County, 79% of those eligible are fully vaccinated and 66% in Orange County (Orlando). That’s higher than in Chicago’s Cook County (63%), the Bronx (62%), Clark County around Las Vegas (54%) and Detroit’s Wayne County (53%).
Mr. Biden may be reading polls that show vaccine mandates are popular, at least among Democrats. He promised last fall to “kill the virus,” and declared victory too soon in June. He’s now trying to blame the virus surge on everyone else in angry, accusatory rhetoric.
These columns have supported the vaccine effort from the start, but we also believe in free choice and persuasion. Mr. Biden’s polarizing commands may stiffen the resistance of many on the political right, and they are certain to cost many people their jobs. They aren’t necessary, and they show again that the progressive policy default is always brute political force.
Like the Journal’s editorial board, I have also supported the vaccine effort from the start, and I also believe in free choice and persuasion.
Like Nicki Minaj, I believe that people should only get the vaccine if they’re comfortable getting it, and that nobody should be bullied into it.
Like Anthony Fauci, I have seen no evidence of a correlation between coronavirus vaccinations and infertility or ballooning gonads.
Like Joe Biden, I can, you know, like Robert E. Lee… the thing.
That’s how I saw the lay of the land as I jotted my preliminary notes on the Minaj-Fauci dispute this morning.
But like everything else in this dumpster fire of an era, the whole thing has subsequently been turned up to eleven. (Or, more accurately, had been cranked up to eleven earlier in the week without my having realized it yet.)
First, talk show harpie Joy Reid apparently called Minaj out on her MSNBC program not long after Minaj’s tweet went online.
“For you to use your platform to encourage our community to not protect themselves and save their lives… As a fan, I am so sad that you did that,” Reid tweeted.
Minaj came right back at her:
“This is what happens when you’re so thirsty to down another black woman (by the request of the white man), that you didn’t bother to read all my tweets. ‘My God SISTER do better’ imagine getting ur dumb ass on tv a min after a tweet to spread a false narrative about a black woman”
(Apparently Reid had talked some additional smack about Minaj on her program.)
Things between Minaj and Reid continued to deteriorate from there.
So of course it was time for Fox News host Tucker Carlson to wander into the skirmish.
He, too, addressed L’Affaire Minaj on live television. He, too, found the claim about her cousin’s friends testicles unconvincing—but he found the increasingly unhinged response to her tweet disturbing given that she was merely suggesting people only get vaccinated if they were comfortable with it.
A reasonable enough take, so Minaj then tweeted out the video of Carlson saying all this, adorning it with an “on target” emoji.
At which point some guy I never heard of (“Hasanabi”) but who has nearly a million followers on Twitter replied to Minaj’s tweet by saying, “you know he’s a white nationalist right?”
(The claim that Tucker Carlson is a white nationalist is unsupported by any evidence or data, but is part of the leftist catechism.)
And then Minaj fired off her coup de grâce:
“Right. I can’t speak to, agree with, even look at someone from a particular political party. Ppl aren’t human any more. If you’re black & a Democrat tells u to shove marbles up ur ass, you simply have to. If another party tells u to look out for that bus, stand there & get hit”
At this writing, that tweet has more than 15,000 retweets and close to 100,000 likes.
Also at this writing, Nicki Minaj is no longer on Twitter. Accord to Salon:
Rapper Nicki Minaj went on a wild Instagram Live rant Wednesday night after claiming she was suspended from Twitter for a post in which she said her cousin’s friend in Trinidad and Tobago became impotent and suffered swollen testicles after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
“I have been suspended from Twitter,” she said, over a shot of what appeared to be an apartment ceiling. “Twitter, a place where people say the most horrific things every day.”
The Trinidadian-born artist repeatedly claimed that she did not “give any facts” about the vaccine and that she was simply “asking questions” — though her claims were debunked by the government of Trinidad and Tobago earlier on Wednesday. The country’s health ministry said it could not find any evidence that any patient had reported the symptoms that Minaj described — in Trinidad or elsewhere.
Dystopian enough for you yet?
Consider: if the thrust of her message was that people should only get the vaccine if they’re comfortable with it, then the dubious anecdote about her cousin’s friend’s impotence isn’t categorically different from Fauci’s assertion that public masking wasn’t necessary. It’s something the truth of which was less important to her than the point it was supposed to support.
That much said, a reasonable person might also conclude that anyone pushing an idea or presenting a fact they either don’t agree with or know to be false ought not to be trusted unconditionally.
Since both Fauci and Minaj would thereby fall into the category of people not to be trusted unconditionally, which conclusion would you say deserves the more skepticism: that you should only get the vaccine if you’re comfortable with it (Minaj), or that the vaccine is entirely safe and you must get it (Fauci)?
Minaj’s anecdote may be false, but her recommendation leaves you room to make your own call. Fauci’s repudiation may be correct, but his recommendation is absolute: your opinion is irrelevant. You will be vaccinated.
I happen to believe that vaccination is the smart choice for most people. But my own fully-vaccinated father just perished from covid, so I also happen to know from hard experience that vaccination is not a silver bullet. I therefore see no justification for forcing it on people. (And if it were a silver bullet, forcing it on people would be even more absurd, since there would be no need to “protect” the vaccinated from the unvaccinated.)
So what are we left with?
A tale told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
That’s probably already gotten worse in the time it took me to write this…