From the print edition of The New American:
On April 24, former First Lady Michelle Obama released two public-service announcements (PSAs) urging African-Americans to stay home in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Our communities are among the hardest-hit by the coronavirus, and we’ve got to do everything we can to keep each other safe,” she said in one PSA. “And that means staying home because even if we are not showing any symptoms, we can still spread the virus to others. Let’s keep each other safe by just staying home.”
The very next day, her husband, former President Barack Obama, was spotted golfing at an exclusive club in Virginia that is at least a 45-minute drive from the Obamas’ Washington, D.C., home. “Apparently,” quipped PJ Media’s Matt Margolis, Mr. Obama “didn’t get the memo.”
In reality, the Obamas, like so many other movers and shakers, simply don’t feel the need to abide by the same rules they expect the rest of us to obey unquestioningly. This is not uncommon among statists, particularly those of the “progressive” persuasion, who lecture the rest of us on the need to help the poor while they donate next to nothing to charity, or claim everyone else must revert to hunter-gatherer status to save the planet while they fly all over the world in carbon-spewing private jets.
Such hypocrisy may, however, have reached new heights under the draconian coronavirus lockdowns. Those ordering people to stay home and “nonessential” businesses to close, and those who most vocally advocate for obedience to these policies, seem to feel quite unencumbered by them.
Start Spreadin’ the Germs
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, for instance, is a proud proponent of his state’s coronavirus orders. He has pleaded with Gothamites to rat out individuals and institutions they believe are violating the orders, and he personally oversaw the police dispersal of an Orthodox Jewish funeral within the city limits, later threatening “the Jewish community” with “arrest” for further violations.
But when it comes to obeying those same orders, the mayor’s name should perhaps be changed to de Blasé. Just hours before New York’s governor ordered the closure of “nonessential” businesses, including gyms — because the federal government was cautioning against large gatherings — de Blasio made his daily appearance at a city YMCA, a move that two of his former advisors denounced on Twitter. Since then, de Blasio and his wife, along with a full security detail, have continued to take daily walks in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. The park is 12 miles from Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s official residence, which includes 11 acres of land and is situated within yet another city park. The pair were even seen strolling in the park without face masks a mere two days after de Blasio told New Yorkers to “wear a face covering when you go outside.”
Challenged on a television program about the contradiction between his words and his deeds, de Blasio said, “I go get my exercise like everyone else.” The walks, he added, “help me to continue working nonstop,” which might be the best reason to put an end to them.
“This is something we just shouldn’t focus on,” he said. “There’s much better things to talk about.” Besides, he ration-alized, “My situation is particular.”
In layman’s terms: “I’m special and shouldn’t be held to the same standards as the rest of you proles. Now lay off!”
Elsewhere in the Empire State, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who had been broadcasting from his basement since he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 31, decided to take a mask- and glove-free Easter Sunday jaunt to some undeveloped property he owns in East Hampton, a 30-minute drive from his home in Southampton.
“When you watch television, you imagine Chris Cuomo is a responsible journalist,” Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson remarked. “In fact, he’s Typhoid Mary.”
Confronted by a bicyclist in East Hampton, Cuomo allegedly shot back, “Who the hell are you? I can do what I want!” The cyclist told the New York Post Cuomo “just ranted, screaming, ‘I’ll find out who you are!’” and threatened him with retaliation.
Responding to the accusations on his SiriusXM radio show, an unchastened Cuomo lamented that, in his version of events, his position in the media prevented him from telling the cyclist off.
Three weeks later, on CNN, Cuomo showed video of Americans enjoying a sunny day outside without masks and social distancing. “Fools!” he exclaimed. “It’s not about you. What about the other people?” That thought apparently never crossed his mind when he chose to visit his vacant lot while knowing that he was infected with COVID-19.
Cuomo’s brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo — who admitted on March 26 that ordering New Yorkers to shelter in place “was probably not the best public health strategy” but kept the order in place nonetheless — said at a May 4 press conference, “You could literally kill someone because you didn’t want to wear a mask.” The governor, however, was not wearing a mask at the time, and neither were the two people seated beside him; all three, therefore, were potential murderers in his book.
Do What I Say, Not What I Do
Illinois, which has been under lockdown orders since March 21, also has its share of patronizing personages.
After Governor J. B. Pritzker issued his first order, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot recorded several PSAs encouraging Chicagoans to heed it, including one in which she told someone on the telephone, “Getting your roots done is not essential!” Within a week of the ads’ release, Lightfoot got caught having her hair professionally cut when her stylist posted on Facebook a picture of herself standing right next to Lightfoot; neither was wearing a mask or gloves. (CBS2 Chicago said it had received complaints “that the mayor is not always social distancing at other public events.”)
Photo: AP Images
This article appears in the June 8, 2020, issue of The New American. To download the issue and continue reading this story, or to subscribe, click here.
Questioned by reporters about the apparent contradiction between her exhortations and her actions, “Lightfoot acknowledged getting a haircut, then said the public cares more about other issues,” wrote the Chicago Tribune.
A follow-up question caused Lightfoot to become “visibly annoyed,” the paper noted. “I’m the public face of this city. I’m on national media and I’m out in the public eye,” she said. “I felt like I needed to have a haircut … so I got a haircut,” she added. As for the “little people” who need but can’t get haircuts because of Pritzker’s orders, Lightfoot’s opinion seems to be “Let them eat Brylcreem.”
Pritzker, for his part, claimed at the time that he was starting to “turn into a hippie” because he couldn’t get a haircut. His wife, on the other hand, seems to have felt free to travel to the couple’s “$12-million equestrian estate” in Florida despite her hubby’s orders, according to Patch.com.
When a reporter asked Pritzker about the matter, the governor self-righteously dodged the question. “The first thing I’d like to say is that in politics it used to be that we kept our families out of it,” he said. “My official duties have nothing to do with my family. So I’m not going to answer that question. It’s inappropriate and I find it reprehensible, honestly, that a reporter wrote a story about it.”
In other words, “Everyone else in this state had better do as I say, but my family can do whatever they please.”
Hypocrisy Goes Viral
American elites haven’t cornered the market on this kind of hypocrisy. Public figures in other countries have likewise been found unfaithful to the rules they impose on the rest of their citizens.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has locked down the Great White North, posted a video on Easter Sunday reminding Canadians that they weren’t allowed to spend the holiday with their families.
“I know that for many Canadians, it won’t be easy to celebrate Easter without being surrounded by our extended family or a larger group of loved ones,” he said. “But we have to do it for the safety of all Canadians.” He even suggested that it was what Jesus would want people to do.
As for Trudeau, he took a 30-minute drive from Ottawa to his official country residence in Quebec so he could spend Easter with his wife and children, who were staying there. When reporters asked him why he was allowed to visit his family after forbidding everyone else to do so, Trudeau essentially said, “Because I can,” offering no justification for it other than wanting to see his wife and kids.
Across the pond, Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr. Catherine Calderwood, resigned from her post on April 5 after it was found that she had twice traveled to her second home while the country was under lockdown — a policy she had publicly supported in PSAs and daily press briefings. Calderwood at least showed some remorse for what she had done, not just the fact that she’d gotten caught, saying that she was “deeply sorry for my actions and the mistakes I have made” and that the attention they had received was “justifiable.”
The biggest coronavirus hypocrite of all has to be the United Kingdom’s Dr. Neil Ferguson. The epidemiologist’s computer models, which forecast 250,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.K. and 2.2 million in the United States (he later revised those numbers down significantly), led directly to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s imposition of lockdown policies and indirectly to many of the lockdowns imposed in the United States. Ferguson even promoted Communist China’s extreme quarantine policies, which The Guardian called “brutal but effective.” (Far too many of these policies, such as closing businesses, banning travel, and requiring people to wear masks in public, have been implemented in supposedly free countries.)
“Under [Johnson’s] measures people were told to go out as little as possible, with partners who live separately later being told they should ‘ideally’ stay in their own homes,” reported the BBC.
However, according to the Telegraph, after testing positive for COVID-19, Ferguson nevertheless enjoyed at least two subsequent visits from his married mistress, who not only could have contracted the disease herself but also could have passed it on to her husband and children when she returned home.
“Ferguson was happy to help shut down the entire United Kingdom,” observed Fox’s Carlson, “but it turns out he wasn’t that interested at all in participating in it personally.”
Ferguson was forced to resign from his government advisory position, saying he had “made an error of judgment.” However, he defended his actions (having company, though not necessarily sleeping with someone else’s wife) by explaining, “I had acted in the belief that I was immune, having tested positive for coronavirus and completely isolated myself for almost two weeks after developing symptoms.”
Of course, no one yet knows for sure whether two weeks is enough time to become noncontagious, or if one can even contract the disease more than once. “For a famous scientist, Neil Ferguson is curiously ignorant of science,” said Carlson. “He’s also, obviously, an appalling hypocrite.”
Indeed, despite having been caught disregarding policies he had helped bring about and revealing his lack of scientific understanding, Ferguson still says the government’s social-distancing recommendations are “unequivocal” and exist “to protect all of us.”
Fortunately for Ferguson, he’s a high-placed scientist with influential friends, so he doesn’t have to worry about being fined or arrested for his violations. Scotland Yard told the BBC that while Ferguson’s behavior was “plainly disappointing,” officers “do not intend to take any further action.”
Wherefore Art Thou Hypocrites?
The hypocrisy of the lockdown lovers raises further questions.
First, are these people saying one thing but doing another because they consider themselves superior to the rest of humanity? Certainly the responses of some, such as Lightfoot and Trudeau, suggest that is the case.
Second, is it possible that they are, after all, human and thus incapable of abiding by such inhumane, destructive policies? Most people have certainly found this to be the case: An analysis of cellphone location data by the firm Unacast revealed that Americans under supposed lockdowns have curtailed their travel by as little as 25 percent and their “nonessential” visits by less than 55 percent. Still, those Americans who have been caught by cops or snitched on by neighbors have been subject to fines, jail time, and even physical abuse, while these muckety-mucks suffer comparatively little.
Third, are they disobeying orders because they know staying home and social distancing are pointless endeavors, either because the whole coronavirus panic is overblown or because, even if it is a genuine cause for concern, there seems to be little correspondence between lockdowns and COVID-19 deaths?
Whatever the case, the elites’ flouting of the orders they demand everyone else obey “would be infuriating if these people didn’t run the world,” declared Carlson. “But it’s worse than that, because they do.”
Photo: AP Images