The email link to The Daily Princetonian’s March 18, 22 headline “Princeton announces Dr. Anthony Fauci as Class Day 2022 Speaker” had to be a spoof from The Onion or Babylon Bee. Alas, truth was stranger than fiction. Princeton’s Class Day co-chairs gleefully announced their own special Stockholm Syndrome reenactment with Dr. Anthony Fauci as the guest of honor for embodying Princeton’s unofficial motto, “In the Nation’s service, and the Service of Humanity.” The other inmates/graduates will soon convene to celebrate Dr. Fauci, whose public health guidelines and edicts kept them in a full-tuition, virtual imprisonment a good portion of these last two years. Toast Dr. Fauci as he embarks on his college speech goodwill tour/campaign for that elusive Nobel laureate. The Ivy League, with Princeton among the most zealous, can boast about its safe and effective educational experience since unceremoniously sending its students packing in the spring of 2020. The full panoply of restrictions has been on display at Old Nassau: remote learning, lockdowns, constant testing, masking, limitations on social gatherings, cancelled or curtailed gym usage, no Ivy League sports participation, vaccine and booster mandates without medical necessity and potentially harmful to young healthy adults. The avuncular Dr. Fauci can spew his homilies at Class Day on how the monomaniacal pursuit of Covid zero was all for the greater good. Perhaps, the enraptured students can forget for a day all the collateral physical, educational and psychological damage needlessly incurred these past two years to combat a virus that, for young, healthy students, had practically a zero risk for severe outcomes.
Dr. Fauci’s hagiographers at the FDA or NIH have probably prepared his speech, but in case he is still searching for ideas to make Princeton’s 2022 Class Day memorable, I have a few topics he could explore to appeal to many of the majors represented among the students in attendance.
SCIENCE Dr. Fauci could explain how his testy Congressional utterance” La Science, c’est moi” or his repeated pronouncements to follow the science are consistent with the scientific method. Is science about centralized authoritarianism that stifles debate of radical or innovative views? Have we regressed to the dark ages when Galileo was forced to recant his vision of the heliocentric universe upon pain of imprisonment? Or, can he explain the rationale for pandemic measures that violated basic medical and epidemiological precepts and common sense: quarantining the healthy, disallowing doctors to treat early with repurposed drugs, paving the way for vaccine mandates for injections that did not prevent transmission or infection, spreading the canard that asymptomatic drive transmission in order to keep society in a state of perpetual fear, etc.
PHILOSOPHY There are plenty of avenues Dr. Fauci can explore. Plato’s concept of the Noble Lie with his flip-flopping views on the efficacy of masks. Or, in the field of logic, he can touch on the fallacy of ad hominem attack as he and Francis Collins aimed to discredit the co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration for their plan of focused protection as “fringe” epidemiologists (their pedigree from Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford University, respectively, does not count for much these days).
LITERATURE A rich array of classics can be Dr. Fauci’s muse. Will it be Moby Dick’s Ahab for his de facto fixation on achieving zero Covid or getting a needle in every arm regardless of the plausibility or desirability of either of these outcomes. Or is it Big Brother, the tyrannical leader of Oceania in Orwell’s 1984, as Dr. Fauci embraced the role of becoming a cult figure relying on his own Ministry of Truth at the public health agencies to manipulate, distort or withhold medical data and scientific trials. Or was it Marlowe’s eponymous Dr. Faustus and, if so, what animated his Faucian bargain? Lucre from pharmaceutical royalties, the prospects of a Nobel Laureate or a Hail Mary on an experimental injection to assuage his guilt from having his fingerprints on a potential Wuhan lab leak that started us all down this hellish path?
ECONOMICS The law of unintended consequences as the exclusive public health focus on Covid and the associated lockdown policy response caused other public health disasters, including missed cancer screenings, surgeries postponed, and a surge in suicidal ideation and drug addiction. Or, maybe the law of diminishing marginal returns as evidence mounts that the efficacy of repeated injections fades quickly, may turn negative and could even be placing evolutionary pressure on the emergence of new variants.
This rich array of speech topics hopefully provides food for thought as Dr. Fauci pens his words of wisdom. One notable absence at Princeton’s 2022 Class Day will be the name of Princeton’s iconic university president, Woodrow Wilson. Early in the Covid pandemic, Princeton’s trustees voted to rename the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Wilson College. The racist actions of the former U.S. and Princeton University President prompted this cancel history/cancel culture decision.
While Saint Woodrow’s name has been effaced on campus, his spirit lives on. Dr. Fauci should be heartened. The hallmarks of the Wilson presidency-glorification of centralized authority, suppression of free speech, imprisonment of anti-war and political dissidents (Eugene Debs and the countless victims of the Palmer raids), reliance on bureaucratic experts in pursuit of utopian, progressive ideals, a futile and costly war backed by propaganda on a scale never experienced in America- have found their parallels in Dr. Fauci’s modern day war on an invisible pathogen and assault on medical enlightenment. That war too has relied on authoritarianism backed by enormous coercion and propaganda, enlisting the full support of social media to stamp out and vilify any scientists or doctors daring to depart from the centralized public health narrative. Ironically, Covid lockdown policies and vaccine passports, all part of Dr. Fauci’s playbook for pandemic control, have had a disparate adverse impact on racial minorities, whose mistrust of public health agencies has had a long and sordid history. The spirit of Wilson will be on full display at the 2022 Princeton Class Day festivities. Dr. Fauci is the bureaucratic apotheosis of the Wilsonian ideal of a one world ruler- he is the science!