• COVID-19 isn’t just a cold

    This thread is long, and hard to read - not just because of the technical language, but because “it’s just a cold,” “the vaccine protects me,” and “at least our children are safe” are comforting fairy tales.

    I wish they were true.

    This virus is like measles and polio: a virus with long-term impact.

    Even a “mild” case in a vaccinated individual can lead to long-term issues which cause a measurable uptick in all-cause mortality in the first 6 months, and get progressively worse with time.

    SARS-CoV-2 is a systemic disease which has multiple avenues to induce long-term impairment, attacking the brain, heart, lungs, blood, testes, colon, liver, and lymph nodes, causing persistent symptoms in more than half of patients by six months out.

    The CoVHORT study, limited to non-hospitalized patients in Arizona - “mild” cases - found a 68% prevalence of 1 or more Covid symptom after 30 days, rising to 77% after 60 days. (We will explore an explanation later).

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0254347

    To prevent panic, @CDCgov has been using the term “mild” to describe any case of COVID-19 which does not require hospitalization.

    #LongCOVID, however, is anything but “mild”, as the replies to @ahandvanish’s thread make heartbreakingly clear.

    https://twitter.com/ahandvanish/status/1423017721822949376

    A University of Washington study found that 30% of Covid patients had reduced Health Related Quality of Life, with 8% of the patients limited in routine daily activities.

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2776560

    These patients are struggling with real physical issues.

    This Yale study demonstrated reduced aerobic capacity, oxygen extraction. and ventilatory efficiency in “mild” COVID patients even after recovery from their acute infection.

    https://journal.chestnet.org/article/S0012-3692(21)03635-7/abstract

    It’s also a vascular disease. A Columbia study found “significantly altered lipid metabolism” during acute disease, which “suggests a significant impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on red blood cell structural membrane homeostasis.”

    https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.jproteome.0c00606

    Oregon Health & Science University found that “symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection is associated with increased risk of [fatal] cardiovascular outcomes and has causal effect on all-cause mortality.”

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.12.27.21268448v1

    Let’s review: SARS-CoV-2 causes an increase in mortality and reduced aerobic capacity even after asymptomatic cases, and remains in the body months after the initial infection.

    No, it’s not “just a cold.”

    But we’re just getting started. It gets worse. Way worse.

    The virus appears to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier and cause significant neurological damage.

    The ability of the spike protein to cross the blood-brain barrier was demonstrated in mice at the University of Washington.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33328624

    A joint study by Stanford and Germany’s Saarland University found inflammation in the brain, and “show[ed] that peripheral T cells infiltrate the parenchyma.”

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03710-0

    For context, the parenchyma is the functional tissue of the brain - your neurons and glial cells. It isn’t normally where T cells are:

    “In the brain of healthy individuals, T cells are only present sporadically in the parenchyma.”

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6751344

    The Stanford study also discovered microglia and astrocytes which displayed “features .. that have previously been reported in human neurodegenerative disease.”

    Post-mortem neuropathology in Hamburg, Germany found “Infiltration by cytotoxic T lymphocytes .. in the brainstem and cerebellum, [with] meningeal cytotoxic T lymphocyte infiltration seen in 79% [of] patients.”

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1474442220303082#

    An autopsy of a 14-month-old at Brazil’s Federal University of Rio de Janeiro found that “The brain exhibited severe atrophy and neuronal loss.”

    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanam/article/PIIS2667-193X(21)00038-7/abstract

    The UK Biobank COVID-19 re-imaging study compared before and after images of “mild” cases, and found “pronounced reduction in grey matter” and an “increase of diffusion indices, a marker of tissue damage” in specific regions of the brain.

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.06.11.21258690v3

    That seems to explain why there is evidence of persistent cognitive deficits in people who have recovered from SARS-CoV2 infection in Great Britain.

    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(21)00324-2/fulltext

    Also worrisome are syncytia, where an infected cell extrudes its own spike protein and takes over its neighbors, fusing together to create a large multi-nucleus cell.

    Delta’s particular aptitude for this may partly explain its severity.

    https://www.news-medical.net/news/20211006/SARS-CoV-2-emerging-variants-display-enhanced-syncytia-formation.aspx

    And, yes, syncytia formation can happen in neurons. For our visual learners, here is video of syncytia and apoptosis (cell death) in a (bat) brain:

    https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1429604323047133185

    Luckily, the University of Glasgow found that “Whilst Delta is optimised for fusion at the cell surface, Omicron .. achieves entry through endosomal fusion. This switch .. offers [an] explanation for [its] reduced syncytia formation.”

    https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/Media_829360_smxx.pdf

    If you’re interested in further understanding the host of neurological symptoms and the mechanisms underlying them, this Nature article is an excellent primer:

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01693-6

    Let’s review: SARS-CoV-2 can cross the blood-brain barrier, and even “mild” or asymptomatic cases can cause loss of neurons and persistent cognitive defects?

    That doesn’t sound “mild” to me; I like my brain.

    But it keeps getting worse.

    The brain isn’t the only organ affected: Testicular pathology has found evidence of “SARS-Cov-2 antigen in Leydig cells, Sertoli cells, spermatogonia, and fibroblasts” in post-morten examination.

    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/andr.13073

    A Duke pathology study in Singapore “detected SARS-CoV-2 .. in the colon, appendix, ileum, haemorrhoid, liver, gallbladder and lymph nodes .. suggesting widespread multiorgan involvement of the viral infection.”

    https://gut.bmj.com/content/gutjnl/early/2021/06/13/gutjnl-2021-324280.full.pdf#page1

    The same study found “evidence of residual virus in .. tissues during the convalescent phase, up to 6 months after recovery, in a non-postmortem setting,” suggesting that “a negative swab result might not necessarily indicate complete viral clearance from the body.”

    It also causes microclots: “Fibrin(ogen) amyloid microclots and platelet hyperactivation [were] observed in [Long COVID] patients,” in this work by Stellenbosch University of South Africa, which also explored potential treatments.

    https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-1205453/v1

    Let’s review - SARS-CoV2 attacks our veins, blood, heart, brain, testes, colon, appendix, liver, gallbladder and lymph nodes?

    No, it’s not “just a respiratory virus”.

    Not even close.

    There are also immunology implications:

    Johns Hopkins’ @fitterhappierAJ found that “CD95-mediated [T cell] differentiation and death may be advancing T cells to greater effector acquisition, fewer numbers, and immune dysregulation.”

    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2020.600405/full

    This Chinese military study of the initial Wuhan outbreak concluded that “T cell counts are reduced significantly in COVID-19 patients, and the surviving T cells appear functionally exhausted.”

    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2020.00827/full

    The study authors went on to warn, “Non-ICU patients with total T cells counts lower than 800/μL may still require urgent intervention, even in the immediate absence of more severe symptoms due to a high risk for further deterioration in condition.”

    Those warnings have since been proven by discovery of autoimmune features.

    This study of 177 Los Angeles healthcare workers found that all had persistent self-attacking antibodies at least 6 months after infection, regardless of illness severity.

    https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12967-021-03184-8

    In the words of T-cell immunologist Dr. Leonardi (@fitterhappierAJ)

    https://twitter.com/fitterhappierAJ/status/1475227891034210314

    This Kaiser Permanente S.California study found that, although natural immunity provided substantial protection against reinfection, “Hospitalization was more common at suspected reinfection (11.4%) than initial infection (5.4%).”

    https://www.clinicalmicrobiologyandinfection.com/article/S1198-743X(21)00422-5/abstract

    In fact, remember those cytokine storms? It turns out that even that even severe COVID-19 may not be a viral pneumonia, but an autoimmune attack of the lung.

    https://twitter.com/DaveLeeERMD/status/1413816137570205697

    Let’s review - it’s autoimmune: SARS-CoV2 convinces our body to attack itself.

    That might explain why the Arizona study saw more symptoms after 60 days than at 30 days.

    It also means “natural immunity” isn’t something to count on.

    But if you’re counting on vaccination to feel safe, there’s even more bad news.

    A study of Israel healthcare workers found that “Most breakthrough cases were mild or asymptomatic, although 19% had persistent symptoms (>6 weeks).”

    https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2109072

    Perhaps the most terrifying study is from Oxford University, which examined the effects of vaccination on long COVID symptoms, because not only did it find that vaccination does not protect against Long Covid, but that Long Covid symptoms become more likely over time:

    In the words of the study authors, “vaccination does not appear to be protective against .. long-COVID features, arrhythmia, joint pain, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, sleep disorders, and mood and anxiety disorders."

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.10.26.21265508v3

    “The narrow confidence intervals rule out the possibility that these negative findings are merely a result of lack of statistical power. The inclusion of death in a composite endpoint with these outcomes rules out survivorship bias as an explanation.”

    That finding contradicts the findings from the UK Zoe app study, which found that “the odds of having symptoms for 28 days or more after post-vaccination infection were approximately halved by having two vaccine doses.”

    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(21)00460-6/fulltext

    However, the structural limitations of the Zoe study - discussed in detail by @dgurdasani1 in the linked thread - may explain why it is particularly susceptible to bias against detecting a progressive degenerative condition.

    https://twitter.com/dgurdasani1/status/1422802883632893952

    Let’s review: we’ve now shown that vaccination appears to offer no protection against the long-term autoimmune effects of COVID - which we know causes T-cells to attack the lungs, and can cause T-cells to enter the brain.

    Why are we letting this run wild?!

    You may think, at least our children are safe.

    They are not.

    The CDC is tracking incidence of a life-threatening multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children following an acute COVID-19 infection, with 5,973 cases as of November 30, 2021.

    https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#mis-national-surveillance

    Children also suffer from Long Covid.

    “More than half [of pediatric patients] reported at least one persisting symptom even 120 days [after] COVID-19, with 42.6% impaired by these symptoms during daily activities.”

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.01.23.21250375v1

    Focusing exclusively on pediatric deaths is vastly underselling the danger to children.

    Anybody telling you that SARS-CoV-2 is “just a cold” or “safe for children” is lying to you. They are ignoring the massive body of research that indicates that it is anything but.

    Since our vaccines don’t stop transmission, and don’t appear to stop long-term illness, a “vaccination only” strategy is not going to be sufficient to prevent mass disability.

    This isn’t something we want to expose our kids to.

    Let’s review: even for children and vaccinated people, a “mild” case of COVID causes symptoms that point to long-term autoimmune issues, potentially causing our own body to attack our brains, hearts, and lungs.

    Scared? Good.

    Now we’re ready to get to work.

    “This is the virus most Americans don’t know. We were born into a world where a virus was a thing you got over in a few weeks.” — @sgeekfemale, to whom I owe a “thank you” for her editing assistance on this thread.

    The viruses they know in Kolkota, Kinshasa, and Wuhan are different: dangerous, lethal beasts.

    Since 2020, the field has been leveled. Willing or no, we’ve rejoined the rest of the world. We are, all of us, vulnerable in the face of an unfamiliar threat.

    The first step is acknowledging the threat.

    That means acknowledging that our response has been woefully inadequate, and that is going to be uncomfortable.

    The thought that we could have prevented this, but didn’t, will feel unconscionable to some.

    The knowledge that we could start preventing this today, but haven’t, is unconscionable to me.

    https://twitter.com/IanRicksecker/status/1426584062827712512

    It’s time to quit pretending “it’s just a cold,” or that there is some magical law of viruses that will make it evolve to an acceptable level.

    There’s no such law of evolution, just wishful thinking, easily disproven by:

    Ebola. Smallpox. Marburg. Polio. Malaria.

    There are things we can do to reduce our individual risk, immediately.

    That starts with wearing a good mask - an N95 or better - and choosing to avoid things like indoor dining and capacity-crowd stadiums.

    https://twitter.com/LazarusLong13/status/1440398111445188618

    This isn’t a choice of “individual freedom” vs “public health”. It isn’t “authoritarian” to ask people to change their behavior in order to save lives.

    https://www.thehastingscenter.org/individual-freedom-or-public-health-a-false-choice-in-the-covid-e

    As Arnold @Schwarzenegger argued so convincingly in @TheAtlantic, it is our patriotic duty:

    “Generations of Americans made incredible sacrifices, and we’re going to throw fits about putting a mask over our mouth and nose?”

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/08/schwarzenegger-schmuck-mask-vaccines/619746

    “Those who would sacrifice essential liberty for a little bit of temporary security deserve neither!”

    What is the essential liberty here?

    It is the liberty to be able to breathe clean air, to live our lives without infecting our families and risking disability.

    To get there, we need to listen to our epidemiologists and public health experts - the ones who have been trying to tell us this since the beginning:

    https://twitter.com/EpiEllie/status/1444088804961304581

    It is time — long past time — to give up on the lazy fantasy that we can let it become “endemic” and “uncontrolled” because it inconveniences us, because it is killing our political opponents, or because the virus will magically evolve to some “mild” state.

    It is time — long past time — to begin controlling this virus.

    It’s possible: Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea have done it.

    It saves lives:

    It’s even good for the economy:

    “Globally, economic contraction and growth closely mirror increases and decreases in COVID-19 cases... Public health strategies that reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission also safeguard the economy.”

    https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-021-06357-4

    It’s time.

    https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1478611650760437765.html

    sur twitter :
    https://twitter.com/IanRicksecker/status/1478611650760437765

    #long-covid #covid-19 #coronavirus #covid_long #long_covid #séquelles #post-covid

  • Facebook Should Dial Down the Toxicity Much More Often - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/04/facebook-should-dial-down-toxicity-much-more-often/618653

    The strategy works! Facebook has recently touted reductions in the amount of hate speech and graphic content that users see on its platform. How did it make these improvements? Not by changing its rules on hate speech. Not by hiring more human content moderators. Not by refining artificial-intelligence tools that seek out rule-breaking content to take down. The progress was “mainly due to changes we made to reduce problematic content in News Feed.” The company used dials, not on-off switches.

    The Chauvin trial may be a unique event, but racial tension and violence are clearly not. Content on social media leading to offline harm is not confined to Minneapolis or the U.S.; it is a global problem. Toxic online content is not an aberration, but a permanent feature of the internet. Platforms shouldn’t wait until the house is burning down to do something about it.

  • Academic freedom is in crisis ; free speech is not

    In August 2020, the UK think tank The Policy Exchange produced a report on Academic Freedom in the UK (https://policyexchange.org.uk/publication/academic-freedom-in-the-uk-2), alleging a chilling effect for staff and students expressing conservative opinions, particularly pro-Brexit or ‘gender critical’ ideas. This is an issue that was examined by a 2018 parliamentary committee on Human Rights which found a lack of evidence for serious infringements of free speech (https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201719/jtselect/jtrights/1279/127904.htm). In a university context, freedom of speech is protected under the Human Rights Act 1998 as long as the speech is lawful and does not contravene other university regulations on issues like harassment, bullying or inclusion. Some of these controversies have been firmly rebutted by Chris Parr (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/free-speech-crisis-uk-universities-chris-parr) and others who describe how the incidents have been over-hyped.

    Despite this, the government seems keen to appoint a free speech champion for universities (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/feb/15/tories-war-on-the-woke-ministers-statues-protests) which continues a campaign started by #Sam_Gyimah (https://academicirregularities.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/sams-on-campus-but-is-the-campus-onto-sam) when he was minister for universities in 2018, and has been interpreted by some commentators as a ‘war on woke’. In the current climate of threats to university autonomy, many vice chancellors wonder whether this might be followed by heavy fines or reduced funding for those institutions deemed to fall on the wrong side of the culture wars.

    While public concern has been directed to an imagined crisis of free speech, there are more significant questions to answer on the separate but related issue of academic freedom. Most university statutes echo legislation and guarantee academics ‘freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom, and to put forward new ideas and controversial and unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges they may have at their institutions.’ [Section 202 of the Education Reform Act 1988]. In reality, these freedoms are surrendered to the greater claims of academic capitalism, government policy, legislation, managers’ responses to the pandemic and more dirigiste approaches to academics’ work.

    Nevertheless, this government is ploughing ahead with policies designed to protect the freedom of speech that is already protected, while doing little to hold university managers to account for their very demonstrable violations of academic freedom. The government is suspicious of courses which declare a sympathy with social justice or which manifest a ‘progressive’ approach. This hostility also extends to critical race theory and black studies. Indeed, the New York Times has identified a right wing ‘Campaign to Cancel Wokeness’ (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/26/opinion/speech-racism-academia.html) on both sides of the Atlantic, citing a speech by the UK Equalities Minister, Kemi Badenoch, in which she said, “We do not want teachers to teach their white pupils about white privilege and inherited racial guilt…Any school which teaches these elements of critical race theory, or which promotes partisan political views such as defunding the police without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views, is breaking the law.”

    This has now set a tone for ideological oversight which some university leaders seem keen to embrace. Universities will always wish to review their offerings to ensure they reflect academic currency and student choice. However, operating under the cover of emergency pandemic planning, some are now seeking to dismantle what they see as politically troublesome subject areas.

    Let’s start with the most egregious and transparent attack on academic freedom. The University of Leicester Business School, known primarily for its disdain of management orthodoxy, has announced it will no longer support research in critical management studies (https://www.uculeicester.org.uk/redundancy-briefing) and political economy, and the university has put all researchers who identify with this field, or who at some time might have published in CMS, at risk of redundancy. Among the numerous responses circulating on Twitter, nearly all point to the fact that the critical orientation made Leicester Business School distinctive and attractive to scholars wishing to study and teach there. Among those threatened with redundancy is the distinguished former dean, Professor Gibson Burrell. The sheer volume of protest at this anomaly must be an embarrassment to Leicester management. We should remember that academic freedom means that, as a scholar of proven expertise, you have the freedom to teach and research according to your own judgement. When those in a field critical of structures of power have their academic freedom removed, this is, unarguably, a breach of that expectation. Such a violation should be of concern to the new freedom of speech champion and to the regulator, the Office for Students.

    If the devastation in the School of Business were not enough humiliation for Leicester, in the department of English, there are plans to cancel scholarship and teaching in Medieval and Early Modern literature. The thoughtless stripping out of key areas that give context and coherence within a subject is not unique to Leicester – similar moves have taken place in English at University of Portsmouth. At Leicester, management have offered the justification that this realignment will allow them to put resources towards the study of gender and sexuality. After all, the Vice Chancellor, Nishan Canagarajah, offered the keynote speech at the Advance HE conference in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion on 19th March (https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/programmes-events/conferences/EDIConf20#Keynotes) and has signalled that he supports decolonising the curriculum. This might have had more credibility if he was not equally committed to extinguishing critical scholarship in the Business School. The two positions are incompatible and reveal an opportunistic attempt to reduce costs and remove signs of critical scholarship which might attract government disapproval.

    At the University of Birmingham, the response to the difficulties of maintaining teaching during the pandemic has been to issue a ruling that three academic staff must be able to teach each module. The explanation for this apparent reversal of the ‘lean’ principle of staffing efficiency, is to make modules more resilient in the face of challenges like the pandemic – or perhaps strike action. There is a consequence for academic freedom though – only the most familiar, established courses can be taught. Courses that might have been offered, which arise from the current research of the academic staff, will have to be cancelled if the material is not already familiar to other colleagues in the department. It is a way of designing innovation and advancement out of courses at the University of Birmingham.

    Still at Birmingham, UCU is contesting a proposal for a new ‘career framework’ (https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/strike-warning-over-birminghams-or-out-probation-plan) by management characterised as ‘up or out’. It will require newly appointed lecturers to achieve promotion to senior lecturer within five years or face the sort of performance management procedures that could lead to termination of their appointment. The junior academics who enter on these conditions are unlikely to gamble their careers on academic risk-taking or pursue a challenge to an established paradigm. We can only speculate how this apprenticeship in organisational obedience might restrain the pursuit of discovery, let alone achieve the management’s stated aim to “develop and maintain an academic culture of intellectual stimulation and high achievement”.

    Meanwhile at the University of Liverpool, Vice Chancellor Janet Beer is attempting to apply research metrics and measures of research income over a five-year period to select academics for redundancy in the Faculty of Life Sciences. Staff have been threatened with sacking and replacement by those felt to hold more promise. It will be an unwise scholar who chooses a niche field of research which will not elicit prime citations. Astoundingly, university mangers claim that their criteria are not in breach of their status as a signatory to the San Fransisco Declaration on Research Assessment (https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2021/03/08/project-shape-update). That is correct insofar as selection for redundancy by grant income is clearly such dishonorable practice as to have been placed beyond contemplation by the international board of DORA.

    It seems we are reaching a pivotal moment for academic freedom for higher education systems across the world. In #Arkansas and some other states in the #USA, there are efforts to prohibit the teaching of social justice (https://www.chronicle.com/article/no-social-justice-in-the-classroom-new-state-scrutiny-of-speech-at-public).

    In #France, the education minister has blamed American critical race theory (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/france-about-become-less-free/617195) for undermining France’s self-professed race-blindness and for causing the rise of “islamo-gauchisme”, a term which has been cynically deployed to blunt any critique of structural racism.

    In Greece, universities are now bound by law to ensure policing and surveillance of university campuses (https://www.crimetalk.org.uk/index.php/library/section-list/1012-exiting-democracy-entering-authoritarianism) by ‘squads for the protection of universities’ in order to suppress dissent with the Orwellian announcement that the creation of these squads and the extensive surveillance of public Universities are “a means of closing the door to violence and opening the way to freedom” and an assertion that “it is not the police who enter universities, but democracy”.

    Conclusion

    It occurs to me that those public figures who feel deprived of a platform to express controversial views may well be outnumbered by the scholars whose universities allow their work to be suppressed by targeted intellectual purges, academic totalitarianism and metric surveillance. It is telling that assaults on academic freedom in the UK have not attracted comment or action from the organisations which might be well placed to defend this defining and essential principle of universities. I hereby call on Universities UK, the Office for Students and the freedom of speech champion to insist on an independent audit of academic freedom and autonomy for each higher education institution.

    We now know where intervention into the rights of academics to teach and research autonomously may lead. We also know that many of the candidates targeted for redundancy are UCU trade union officials; this has happened at University of East London and the University of Hull. Make no mistake, this is a PATCO moment (https://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/05/reagan-fires-11-000-striking-air-traffic-controllers-aug-5-1981-241252) for higher education in the UK as management teams try to break union support and solidarity in order to exact greater control in the future.

    Universities are the canary down the mine in an era of right-wing authoritarianism. We must ensure that they can maintain their unique responsibility to protect against the rise of populism and the dismantling of democracy. We must be assertive in protecting the rights of academics whose lawful and reasoned opinions are increasingly subject to some very sinister threats. Academic freedom needs to be fought for, just like the right to protest and the right to roam. That leaves a heavy responsibility for academics if the abolition of autonomy and academic freedom is not to be complete.

    http://cdbu.org.uk/academic-freedom-is-in-crisis-free-speech-is-not
    #liberté_académique #liberté_d'expression #UK #Angleterre #université #facs #justice_sociale #black_studies #races #race #approches_critiques #études_critiques #privilège_blanc #économie_politique #Leicester_Business_School #pandémie #crise_sanitaire #Birmingham #Liverpool #Janet_Beer #concurrence #Grèce #Etats-Unis #métrique #attaques #éducation_supérieure #populisme #démocratie #autonomie #canari_dans_la_mine

    ping @isskein @cede

    • The Campaign to Cancel Wokeness. How the right is trying to censor critical race theory.

      It’s something of a truism, particularly on the right, that conservatives have claimed the mantle of free speech from an intolerant left that is afraid to engage with uncomfortable ideas. Every embarrassing example of woke overreach — each ill-considered school board decision or high-profile campus meltdown — fuels this perception.

      Yet when it comes to outright government censorship, it is the right that’s on the offense. Critical race theory, the intellectual tradition undergirding concepts like white privilege and microaggressions, is often blamed for fomenting what critics call cancel culture. And so, around America and even overseas, people who don’t like cancel culture are on an ironic quest to cancel the promotion of critical race theory in public forums.

      In September, Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget ordered federal agencies to “begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’” which it described as “un-American propaganda.”

      A month later, the conservative government in Britain declared some uses of critical race theory in education illegal. “We do not want teachers to teach their white pupils about white privilege and inherited racial guilt,” said the Tory equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch. “Any school which teaches these elements of critical race theory, or which promotes partisan political views such as defunding the police without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views, is breaking the law.”

      Some in France took up the fight as well. “French politicians, high-profile intellectuals and journalists are warning that progressive American ideas — specifically on race, gender, post-colonialism — are undermining their society,” Norimitsu Onishi reported in The New York Times. (This is quite a reversal from the days when American conservatives warned darkly about subversive French theory.)

      Once Joe Biden became president, he undid Trump’s critical race theory ban, but lawmakers in several states have proposed their own prohibitions. An Arkansas legislator introduced a pair of bills, one banning the teaching of The Times’s 1619 Project curriculum, and the other nixing classes, events and activities that encourage “division between, resentment of, or social justice for” specific groups of people. “What is not appropriate is being able to theorize, use, specifically, critical race theory,” the bills’ sponsor told The Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

      Republicans in West Virginia and Oklahoma have introduced bills banning schools and, in West Virginia’s case, state contractors from promoting “divisive concepts,” including claims that “the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist.” A New Hampshire Republican also proposed a “divisive concepts” ban, saying in a hearing, “This bill addresses something called critical race theory.”

      Kimberlé Crenshaw, a pioneering legal scholar who teaches at both U.C.L.A. and Columbia, has watched with alarm the attempts to suppress an entire intellectual movement. It was Crenshaw who came up with the name “critical race theory” when organizing a workshop in 1989. (She also coined the term “intersectionality.”) “The commitment to free speech seems to dissipate when the people who are being gagged are folks who are demanding racial justice,” she told me.

      Many of the intellectual currents that would become critical race theory emerged in the 1970s out of disappointment with the incomplete work of the civil rights movement, and cohered among radical law professors in the 1980s.
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      The movement was ahead of its time; one of its central insights, that racism is structural rather than just a matter of interpersonal bigotry, is now conventional wisdom, at least on the left. It had concrete practical applications, leading, for example, to legal arguments that housing laws or employment criteria could be racist in practice even if they weren’t racist in intent.

      Parts of the critical race theory tradition are in tension with liberalism, particularly when it comes to issues like free speech. Richard Delgado, a key figure in the movement, has argued that people should be able to sue those who utter racist slurs. Others have played a large role in crafting campus speech codes.

      There’s plenty here for people committed to broad free speech protections to dispute. I’m persuaded by the essay Henry Louis Gates Jr. wrote in the 1990s challenging the movement’s stance on the first amendment. “To remove the very formation of our identities from the messy realm of contestation and debate is an elemental, not incidental, truncation of the ideal of public discourse,” he wrote.

      Disagreeing with certain ideas, however, is very different from anathematizing the collective work of a host of paradigm-shifting thinkers. Gates’s article was effective because he took the scholarly work he engaged with seriously. “The critical race theorists must be credited with helping to reinvigorate the debate about freedom of expression; even if not ultimately persuaded to join them, the civil libertarian will be much further along for having listened to their arguments and examples,” he wrote.

      But the right, for all its chest-beating about the value of entertaining dangerous notions, is rarely interested in debating the tenets of critical race theory. It wants to eradicate them from public institutions.

      “Critical race theory is a grave threat to the American way of life,” Christopher Rufo, director of the Center on Wealth and Poverty at the Discovery Institute, a conservative think tank once known for pushing an updated form of creationism in public schools, wrote in January.

      Rufo’s been leading the conservative charge against critical race theory. Last year, during an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, he called on Trump to issue an executive order abolishing “critical race theory trainings from the federal government.” The next day, he told me, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, called him and asked for his help putting an order together.

      Last month, Rufo announced a “new coalition of legal foundations and private attorneys that will wage relentless legal warfare against race theory in America’s institutions.” A number of House and Senate offices, he told me, are working on their own anti-critical race theory bills, though none are likely to go anywhere as long as Biden is president.

      As Rufo sees it, critical race theory is a revolutionary program that replaces the Marxist categories of the bourgeois and the proletariat with racial groups, justifying discrimination against those deemed racial oppressors. His goal, ultimately, is to get the Supreme Court to rule that school and workplace trainings based on the doctrines of critical race theory violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

      This inversion, casting anti-racist activists as the real racists, is familiar to Ian Haney López, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in critical race theory. “There’s a rhetoric of reaction which seeks to claim that it’s defending these higher values, which, perversely, often are the very values it’s traducing,” he said. “Whether that’s ‘In the name of free speech we’re going to persecute, we’re going to launch investigations into particular forms of speech’ or — and I think this is equally perverse — ‘In the name of fighting racism, we’re going to launch investigations into those scholars who are most serious about studying the complex forms that racism takes.’”

      Rufo insists there are no free speech implications to what he’s trying to do. “You have the freedom of speech as an individual, of course, but you don’t have the kind of entitlement to perpetuate that speech through public agencies,” he said.

      This sounds, ironically, a lot like the arguments people on the left make about de-platforming right-wingers. To Crenshaw, attempts to ban critical race theory vindicate some of the movement’s skepticism about free speech orthodoxy, showing that there were never transcendent principles at play.

      When people defend offensive speech, she said, they’re often really defending “the substance of what the speech is — because if it was really about free speech, then this censorship, people would be howling to the high heavens.” If it was really about free speech, they should be.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/26/opinion/speech-racism-academia.html

      #droite #gauche #censure #cancel_culture #micro-agressions #Trump #Donald_Trump #Kemi_Badenoch #division #critical_race_theory #racisme #sexisme #Kimberlé_Crenshaw #Crenshaw #racisme_structurel #libéralisme #Richard_Delgado #Christopher_Rufo #Ian_Haney_López

    • No ‘Social Justice’ in the Classroom: Statehouses Renew Scrutiny of Speech at Public Colleges

      Blocking professors from teaching social-justice issues. Asking universities how they talk about privilege. Analyzing students’ freedom of expression through regular reports. Meet the new campus-speech issues emerging in Republican-led statehouses across the country, indicating potential new frontiers for politicians to shape campus affairs.

      (paywall)
      https://www.chronicle.com/article/no-social-justice-in-the-classroom-new-state-scrutiny-of-speech-at-public

  • How the Public-Health Messaging Backfired - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/how-public-health-messaging-backfired/618147

    Par Zeynep Tufekci

    When the polio vaccine was declared safe and effective, the news was met with jubilant celebration. Church bells rang across the nation, and factories blew their whistles. “Polio routed!” newspaper headlines exclaimed. “An historic victory,” “monumental,” “sensational,” newscasters declared. People erupted with joy across the United States. Some danced in the streets; others wept. Kids were sent home from school to celebrate.

    One might have expected the initial approval of the coronavirus vaccines to spark similar jubilation—especially after a brutal pandemic year. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the steady drumbeat of good news about the vaccines has been met with a chorus of relentless pessimism.

    The problem is not that the good news isn’t being reported, or that we should throw caution to the wind just yet. It’s that neither the reporting nor the public-health messaging has reflected the truly amazing reality of these vaccines. There is nothing wrong with realism and caution, but effective communication requires a sense of proportion—distinguishing between due alarm and alarmism; warranted, measured caution and doombait; worst-case scenarios and claims of impending catastrophe. We need to be able to celebrate profoundly positive news while noting the work that still lies ahead. However, instead of balanced optimism since the launch of the vaccines, the public has been offered a lot of misguided fretting over new virus variants, subjected to misleading debates about the inferiority of certain vaccines, and presented with long lists of things vaccinated people still cannot do, while media outlets wonder whether the pandemic will ever end.

    This pessimism is sapping people of energy to get through the winter, and the rest of this pandemic. Anti-vaccination groups and those opposing the current public-health measures have been vigorously amplifying the pessimistic messages—especially the idea that getting vaccinated doesn’t mean being able to do more—telling their audiences that there is no point in compliance, or in eventual vaccination, because it will not lead to any positive changes. They are using the moment and the messaging to deepen mistrust of public-health authorities, accusing them of moving the goalposts and implying that we’re being conned. Either the vaccines aren’t as good as claimed, they suggest, or the real goal of pandemic-safety measures is to control the public, not the virus.

    Five key fallacies and pitfalls have affected public-health messaging, as well as media coverage, and have played an outsize role in derailing an effective pandemic response. These problems were deepened by the ways that we—the public—developed to cope with a dreadful situation under great uncertainty. And now, even as vaccines offer brilliant hope, and even though, at least in the United States, we no longer have to deal with the problem of a misinformer in chief, some officials and media outlets are repeating many of the same mistakes in handling the vaccine rollout.

    The pandemic has given us an unwelcome societal stress test, revealing the cracks and weaknesses in our institutions and our systems. Some of these are common to many contemporary problems, including political dysfunction and the way our public sphere operates. Others are more particular, though not exclusive, to the current challenge—including a gap between how academic research operates and how the public understands that research, and the ways in which the psychology of coping with the pandemic have distorted our response to it.

    Recognizing all these dynamics is important, not only for seeing us through this pandemic—yes, it is going to end—but also to understand how our society functions, and how it fails. We need to start shoring up our defenses, not just against future pandemics but against all the myriad challenges we face—political, environmental, societal, and technological. None of these problems is impossible to remedy, but first we have to acknowledge them and start working to fix them—and we’re running out of time.

    The past 12 months were incredibly challenging for almost everyone. Public-health officials were fighting a devastating pandemic and, at least in this country, an administration hell-bent on undermining them. The World Health Organization was not structured or funded for independence or agility, but still worked hard to contain the disease. Many researchers and experts noted the absence of timely and trustworthy guidelines from authorities, and tried to fill the void by communicating their findings directly to the public on social media. Reporters tried to keep the public informed under time and knowledge constraints, which were made more severe by the worsening media landscape. And the rest of us were trying to survive as best we could, looking for guidance where we could, and sharing information when we could, but always under difficult, murky conditions.

    Despite all these good intentions, much of the public-health messaging has been profoundly counterproductive. In five specific ways, the assumptions made by public officials, the choices made by traditional media, the way our digital public sphere operates, and communication patterns between academic communities and the public proved flawed.

    While visible but low-risk activities attract the scolds, other actual risks—in workplaces and crowded households, exacerbated by the lack of testing or paid sick leave—are not as easily accessible to photographers. Stefan Baral, an associate epidemiology professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that it’s almost as if we’ve “designed a public-health response most suitable for higher-income” groups and the “Twitter generation”—stay home; have your groceries delivered; focus on the behaviors you can photograph and shame online—rather than provide the support and conditions necessary for more people to keep themselves safe.

    And the viral videos shaming people for failing to take sensible precautions, such as wearing masks indoors, do not necessarily help. For one thing, fretting over the occasional person throwing a tantrum while going unmasked in a supermarket distorts the reality: Most of the public has been complying with mask wearing. Worse, shaming is often an ineffective way of getting people to change their behavior, and it entrenches polarization and discourages disclosure, making it harder to fight the virus. Instead, we should be emphasizing safer behavior and stressing how many people are doing their part, while encouraging others to do the same.

    Harm Reduction

    Amidst all the mistrust and the scolding, a crucial public-health concept fell by the wayside. Harm reduction is the recognition that if there is an unmet and yet crucial human need, we cannot simply wish it away; we need to advise people on how to do what they seek to do more safely. Risk can never be completely eliminated; life requires more than futile attempts to bring risk down to zero. Pretending we can will away complexities and trade-offs with absolutism is counterproductive. Consider abstinence-only education: Not letting teenagers know about ways to have safer sex results in more of them having sex with no protections.

    As Julia Marcus, an epidemiologist and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, told me, “When officials assume that risks can be easily eliminated, they might neglect the other things that matter to people: staying fed and housed, being close to loved ones, or just enjoying their lives. Public health works best when it helps people find safer ways to get what they need and want.”

    Another problem with absolutism is the “abstinence violation” effect, Joshua Barocas, an assistant professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, told me. When we set perfection as the only option, it can cause people who fall short of that standard in one small, particular way to decide that they’ve already failed, and might as well give up entirely. Most people who have attempted a diet or a new exercise regimen are familiar with this psychological state. The better approach is encouraging risk reduction and layered mitigation—emphasizing that every little bit helps—while also recognizing that a risk-free life is neither possible nor desirable.

    Socializing is not a luxury—kids need to play with one another, and adults need to interact. Your kids can play together outdoors, and outdoor time is the best chance to catch up with your neighbors is not just a sensible message; it’s a way to decrease transmission risks. Some kids will play and some adults will socialize no matter what the scolds say or public-health officials decree, and they’ll do it indoors, out of sight of the scolding.

    And if they don’t? Then kids will be deprived of an essential activity, and adults will be deprived of human companionship. Socializing is perhaps the most important predictor of health and longevity, after not smoking and perhaps exercise and a healthy diet. We need to help people socialize more safely, not encourage them to stop socializing entirely.

    Moreover, they have delivered spectacular results. In June 2020, the FDA said a vaccine that was merely 50 percent efficacious in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 would receive emergency approval—that such a benefit would be sufficient to justify shipping it out immediately. Just a few months after that, the trials of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines concluded by reporting not just a stunning 95 percent efficacy, but also a complete elimination of hospitalization or death among the vaccinated. Even severe disease was practically gone: The lone case classified as “severe” among 30,000 vaccinated individuals in the trials was so mild that the patient needed no medical care, and her case would not have been considered severe if her oxygen saturation had been a single percent higher.

    These are exhilarating developments, because global, widespread, and rapid vaccination is our way out of this pandemic. Vaccines that drastically reduce hospitalizations and deaths, and that diminish even severe disease to a rare event, are the closest things we have had in this pandemic to a miracle—though of course they are the product of scientific research, creativity, and hard work. They are going to be the panacea and the endgame.

    Just a few days later, Moderna reported a similar 94.5 percent efficacy. If anything, that provided even more cause for celebration, because it confirmed that the stunning numbers coming out of Pfizer weren’t a fluke. But, still amid the political turmoil, the Moderna report got a mere two columns on The New York Times’ front page with an equally modest headline: “Another Vaccine Appears to Work Against the Virus.”

    So we didn’t get our initial vaccine jubilation.

    But as soon as we began vaccinating people, articles started warning the newly vaccinated about all they could not do. “COVID-19 Vaccine Doesn’t Mean You Can Party Like It’s 1999,” one headline admonished. And the buzzkill has continued right up to the present. “You’re fully vaccinated against the coronavirus—now what? Don’t expect to shed your mask and get back to normal activities right away,” began a recent Associated Press story.

    People might well want to party after being vaccinated. Those shots will expand what we can do, first in our private lives and among other vaccinated people, and then, gradually, in our public lives as well. But once again, the authorities and the media seem more worried about potentially reckless behavior among the vaccinated, and about telling them what not to do, than with providing nuanced guidance reflecting trade-offs, uncertainty, and a recognition that vaccination can change behavior. No guideline can cover every situation, but careful, accurate, and updated information can empower everyone.

    What went wrong? The same thing that’s going wrong right now with the reporting on whether vaccines will protect recipients against the new viral variants. Some outlets emphasize the worst or misinterpret the research. Some public-health officials are wary of encouraging the relaxation of any precautions. Some prominent experts on social media—even those with seemingly solid credentials—tend to respond to everything with alarm and sirens. So the message that got heard was that vaccines will not prevent transmission, or that they won’t work against new variants, or that we don’t know if they will. What the public needs to hear, though, is that based on existing data, we expect them to work fairly well—but we’ll learn more about precisely how effective they’ll be over time, and that tweaks may make them even better.

    Psychologists talk about the “locus of control”—the strength of belief in control over your own destiny. They distinguish between people with more of an internal-control orientation—who believe that they are the primary actors—and those with an external one, who believe that society, fate, and other factors beyond their control greatly influence what happens to us. This focus on individual control goes along with something called the “fundamental attribution error”—when bad things happen to other people, we’re more likely to believe that they are personally at fault, but when they happen to us, we are more likely to blame the situation and circumstances beyond our control.

    An individualistic locus of control is forged in the U.S. mythos—that we are a nation of strivers and people who pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. An internal-control orientation isn’t necessarily negative; it can facilitate resilience, rather than fatalism, by shifting the focus to what we can do as individuals even as things fall apart around us. This orientation seems to be common among children who not only survive but sometimes thrive in terrible situations—they take charge and have a go at it, and with some luck, pull through. It is probably even more attractive to educated, well-off people who feel that they have succeeded through their own actions.

    The focus on individual actions has had its upsides, but it has also led to a sizable portion of pandemic victims being erased from public conversation. If our own actions drive everything, then some other individuals must be to blame when things go wrong for them. And throughout this pandemic, the mantra many of us kept repeating—“Wear a mask, stay home; wear a mask, stay home”—hid many of the real victims.

    Study after study, in country after country, confirms that this disease has disproportionately hit the poor and minority groups, along with the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable to severe disease. Even among the elderly, though, those who are wealthier and enjoy greater access to health care have fared better.

    The poor and minority groups are dying in disproportionately large numbers for the same reasons that they suffer from many other diseases: a lifetime of disadvantages, lack of access to health care, inferior working conditions, unsafe housing, and limited financial resources.

    Many lacked the option of staying home precisely because they were working hard to enable others to do what they could not, by packing boxes, delivering groceries, producing food. And even those who could stay home faced other problems born of inequality: Crowded housing is associated with higher rates of COVID-19 infection and worse outcomes, likely because many of the essential workers who live in such housing bring the virus home to elderly relatives.

    Individual responsibility certainly had a large role to play in fighting the pandemic, but many victims had little choice in what happened to them. By disproportionately focusing on individual choices, not only did we hide the real problem, but we failed to do more to provide safe working and living conditions for everyone.

    But also, after a weary year, maybe it’s hard for everyone—including scientists, journalists, and public-health officials—to imagine the end, to have hope. We adjust to new conditions fairly quickly, even terrible new conditions. During this pandemic, we’ve adjusted to things many of us never thought were possible. Billions of people have led dramatically smaller, circumscribed lives, and dealt with closed schools, the inability to see loved ones, the loss of jobs, the absence of communal activities, and the threat and reality of illness and death.

    #Covid-19 #Vaccin #Médias #Sciences_information #Sociologie #Pandémie #Zeynep_Tufekci

  • The Capitol Rioters Aren’t Like Other Extremists - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/the-capitol-rioters-arent-like-other-extremists/617895

    (...) the demographic profile of the suspected Capitol rioters is different from that of past right-wing extremists. The average age of the arrestees we studied is 40. Two-thirds are 35 or older, and 40 percent are business owners or hold white-collar jobs. Unlike the stereotypical extremist, many of the alleged participants in the Capitol riot have a lot to lose. They work as CEOs, shop owners, doctors, lawyers, IT specialists, and accountants. Strikingly, court documents indicate that only 9 percent are unemployed. Of the earlier far-right-extremist suspects we studied, 61 percent were under 35, 25 percent were unemployed, and almost none worked in white-collar occupations.

    #Capitole #USA #fascistes

  • Is Trump Trying to Stage a Coup ? - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/12/trumps-farcical-inept-and-deadly-serious-coup-attempt/617309

    By Zeynep Tufekci

    The U.S. president is trying to steal the election, and, crucially, his party either tacitly approves or is pretending not to see it. This is a particularly dangerous combination, and makes it much more than just typical Trumpian bluster or norm shattering.

    Maybe in other languages, from places with more experience with this particular type of power grab, we’d be better able to discuss the subtleties of this effort, to distinguish the postelection intervention from the Election Day injustices, to separate the legal but frivolous from the outright lawless, and to understand why his party’s reaction—lack of reaction—is not just about wanting to conclude an embarrassing presidency with minimal fanfare. But in English, only one widely understood word captures what Donald Trump is trying to do, even though his acts do not meet its technical definition. Trump is attempting to stage some kind of coup, one that is embedded in a broader and ongoing power grab.

    And if that’s hard to recognize, this might be your first.

    With just a few notable exceptions, Republican officials have met Trump’s lies with a combination of tacit approval, pretending not to notice them, or forbearance. In a recent survey, an alarming 222 Republicans in the House and the Senate—88 percent—refused to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the presidency. Another two insisted Trump won. A few more have started speaking out, but what has finally taxed their patience seems to be anxiety that Trump’s antics may cost them an upcoming election for two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia—an instrumental concern about continuing to exercise power, rather than a substantive worry about the attempted election theft itself. (It should be noted that there have been conservative voices who have responded with the appropriate fury, but that few are elected officials or leaders of the GOP.)

    What starts as farce may end as tragedy, a lesson that pundits should already have learned from their sneering dismissal of Trump when he first announced his presidential candidacy. Yes, the Trump campaign’s lawsuits are pinnacles of incompetence, too incoherent and embarrassing to go anywhere legally. The legislators who have been openly pressured by Trump don’t seem willing to abide the crassness of his attempt. States are certifying their election results one by one, and the General Services Administration―the agency that oversees presidential transitions—has started the process of handing the government over to President-elect Joe Biden. If things proceed in their ordinary course, the Electoral College will soon vote, and then Biden will take office.

    But ignoring a near catastrophe that was averted by the buffoonish, half-hearted efforts of its would-be perpetrator invites a real catastrophe brought on by someone more competent and ambitious. President Trump had already established a playbook for contesting elections in 2016 by casting doubt on the election process before he won, and insisting that he only lost the popular vote due to fraud. Now he’s establishing a playbook for stealing elections by mobilizing executive, judicial, and legislative power to support the attempt. And worse, much worse, the playbook is being implicitly endorsed by the silence of some leading Republicans, and vocally endorsed by others, even as minority rule becomes increasingly entrenched in the American electoral system.

    When Biden takes the presidential oath in January, many will write articles scolding those who expressed concern about a coup as worrywarts, or as people misusing terminology. But ignoring near misses is how people and societies get in real trouble the next time, and although the academic objections to the terminology aren’t incorrect, the problem is about much more than getting the exact term right.

    Alarmism is problematic when it’s sensationalist. Alarmism is essential when conditions make it appropriate.

    So, yes, the word coup may not technically capture what we’re seeing, but as Pablo Picasso said: “Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand.” People are using the term because it captures the sense and the spirit of the moment—its zeitgeist, its underlying truth.

    Our focus should not be a debate about the proper terminology. Instead, we should react to the frightening substance of what we’re facing, even if we also believe that the crassness and the incompetence of this attempt may well doom it this time. If the Republican Party, itself entrenching minority rule on many levels, won’t stand up to Trump’s attempt to steal an election through lying and intimidation with the fury the situation demands; if the Democratic Party’s leadership remains solely focused on preparing for the presidency of Joe Biden rather than talking openly about what’s happening; and if ordinary citizens feel bewildered and disempowered, we may settle the terminological debate in the worst possible way: by accruing enough experience with illegitimate power grabs to evolve a more fine-grained vocabulary.

    Act like this is your first coup, if you want to be sure that it’s also your last.

    #Politique_USA #Zeynep_Tufekci #Coup_Etat #Crise_politique

  • Zeynep Tufekci : Trump Proved That Authoritarians Can Get Elected in America - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/trump-proved-authoritarians-can-get-elected-america/617023

    Trump was ineffective and easily beaten. A future strongman won’t be.
    November 6, 2020
    Zeynep Tufekci

    Now that Joe Biden has won the presidency, we can expect debates over whether Donald Trump was an aberration (“not who we are!”) or another instantiation of America’s pathologies and sins. One can reasonably make a case for his deep-rootedness in American traditions, while also noticing the anomalies: the early-morning tweeting, the fondness for mixing personal and government business, the obsession with ratings befitting a reality-TV star—the one job he was good at.

    From an international perspective, though, Trump is just one more example of the many populists on the right who have risen to power around the world: Narendra Modi in India, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Jarosław Kaczyński in Poland, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, my home country. These people win elections but subvert democratic norms: by criminalizing dissent, suppressing or demonizing the media, harassing the opposition, and deploying extra-legal mechanisms whenever possible (Putin’s opponents have a penchant for meeting tragic accidents). Orbán proudly uses the phrase illiberal democracy to describe the populism practiced by these men; Trump has many similarities to them, both rhetorically and policy-wise.
    More by this writer

    He campaigned like they did, too, railing against the particular form of globalization that dominates this era and brings benefit to many, but disproportionately to the wealthy, leaving behind large numbers of people, especially in wealthier countries. He relied on the traditional herrenvolk idea of ethnonationalist populism: supporting a kind of welfare state, but only for the “right” people rather than the undeserving others (the immigrants, the minorities) who allegedly usurp those benefits. He channeled and fueled the widespread mistrust of many centrist-liberal democratic institutions (the press, most notably) —just like the other populists. And so on.

    But there’s one key difference between Trump and everyone else on that list. The others are all talented politicians who win elections again and again.

    In contrast, Trump is a reality-TV star who stumbled his way into an ongoing realignment in American politics, aided by a series of events peculiar to 2016 that were fortunate for him: The Democrats chose a polarizing nominee who didn’t have the requisite political touch that can come from surviving tough elections; social media was, by that point, deeply entrenched in the country’s politics, but its corrosive effects were largely unchecked; multiple players—such as then–FBI Director James Comey—took consequential actions fueled by their misplaced confidence in Hillary Clinton’s win; and Trump’s rivals in the Republican primaries underestimated him. He drew a royal flush.

    It’s not that he is completely without talent. His rallies effectively let him bond with his base, and test out various messages with the crowd that he would then amplify everywhere. He has an intuitive understanding of the power of attention, and he played the traditional media like a fiddle—they benefited from his antics, which they boosted. He also clearly sensed the political moment in 2016, and managed to navigate his way into the presidency, though that probably had more to do with instinct than with deep planning.

    Luck aside, though, Trump is not good at his job. He doesn’t even seem to like it much. He is too undisciplined and thin-skinned to be effective at politics over a sustained period, which involves winning repeated elections. He seems to have been as surprised as anyone else that he won in 2016. While he hates the loser branding that will follow him now, he’s probably fine with the outcome—especially since he can blame it on fantastical conspiracies involving theft or ballot-stuffing or the courts—as long as he can figure out how to escape the criminal trials that are certainly coming his way. (A self-pardon? A negotiated pardon? He will try something.)

    Trump ran like a populist, but he lacked the political talent or competence to govern like an effective one. Remember the Infrastructure Week he promised? It never happened. Remember the trade wars with China he said he’d win? Some tariffs were raised here and there, but the jobs that would bring relief to America’s decimated manufacturing sector never resurged. In Wisconsin in 2018, the president announced “the eighth wonder of the world”—a Foxconn factory that was supposed to employ 13,000 in return for $4.5 billion in government subsidies. However, going into this election, the building remained empty, and the president lost Wisconsin in the Electoral College. (Foxconn hired people in the final weeks of 2019 to fulfill quotas for the subsidies, and laid off many of them right after the new year.) Most populists globally deploy wide patronage networks: state spending that boosts their own supporters. Trump’s model remained attached more to personal graft: He encouraged people to stay in his hotels and have dinner at Mar-a-Lago in exchange for access, rather than develop a broad and participatory network that would remain loyal to him for years. And when the pandemic hit, instead of rising to the occasion and playing the strongman, rallying the country through a crisis that had originated in China—an opportunity perfect for the kind of populist he aspired to be—he floundered.

    Erdoğan has been in power nationally since 2003. After two decades, he has arguably lost some of his political magic, evinced by increasing missteps and a deteriorating situation around democratic rights. Still, he is among the most talented politicians in Turkey’s history. He has been able to navigate multiple challenges, including a previous global financial crisis. In Russia, Putin has won many elections, even managing to subvert term limits. In India, Modi has also been reelected. One could argue that these elections were far from perfect, but they were elections. Brazil’s Bolsonaro has bungled his country’s response to the pandemic but is giving the poor emergency aid and increasing his popularity. The CARES Act did the same thing, providing a significant subsidy to businesses and improving household finances, especially for people with low incomes, but it ended right before the election; Trump erratically tweeted about having nuked a new deal.

    I suspect that the Republican leadership is sanguine, if not happy, about Trump’s loss. It’s striking how quickly Fox News called Arizona for Biden, and how many Republican leaders have condemned the president’s rage-tweeting and attempts to stop the count. They know that Trump is done, and they seem fine with it. For them, what’s not to like? The Supreme Court is solidly in their corner; they will likely retain control of the Senate; House Republicans won more seats than they were projected to; and they are looking at significant gains in state Houses as well, giving them control over redistricting for the next decade. Even better for their long-term project, they have diversified their own coalition, gaining more women candidates and more support from nonwhite voters.

    And they have at their disposal certain features that can be mobilized: The Electoral College and especially the Senate are anti-majoritarian institutions, and they can be combined with other efforts to subvert majority rule. Leaders and parties can engage in voter suppression and break norms with some degree of bipartisan cooperation across the government. In combination, these features allow for players to engage in a hardball kind of minority rule: Remember that no Republican president has won the popular vote since 2004, and that the Senate is structurally prone to domination by a minority. Yet Republicans have tremendous power. This dynamic occurs at the local level, too, where gerrymandering allows Republicans to inflate their representation in state legislatures.

    The situation is a perfect setup, in other words, for a talented politician to run on Trumpism in 2024. A person without the eager Twitter fingers and greedy hotel chains, someone with a penchant for governing rather than golf. An individual who does not irritate everyone who doesn’t already like him, and someone whose wife looks at him adoringly instead of slapping his hand away too many times in public. Someone who isn’t on tape boasting about assaulting women, and who says the right things about military veterans. Someone who can send appropriate condolences about senators who die, instead of angering their state’s voters, as Trump did, perhaps to his detriment, in Arizona. A norm-subverting strongman who can create a durable majority and keep his coalition together to win more elections.

    Make no mistake: The attempt to harness Trumpism—without Trump, but with calculated, refined, and smarter political talent—is coming. And it won’t be easy to make the next Trumpist a one-term president. He will not be so clumsy or vulnerable. He will get into office less by luck than by skill. Perhaps it will be Senator Josh Hawley, who is writing a book against Big Tech because he knows that will be the next chapter in the culture wars, with social-media companies joining “fake news” as the enemy. Perhaps it will be Senator Tom Cotton, running as a law-and-order leader with a populist bent. Maybe it will be another media figure: Tucker Carlson or Joe Rogan, both men with talent and followings. Perhaps it will be another Sarah Palin—she was a prototype—with the charisma and appeal but without the baggage and the need for a presidential candidate to pluck her out of the blue. Perhaps someone like the QAnon-supporting Representative-elect Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who first beat the traditional Republican representative in the primary and then ran her race with guns blazing, mask off, and won against the Democratic candidate, a retired professor who avoided campaigning in person. Indeed, a self-made charismatic person coming out of nowhere probably has a better chance than many establishment figures in the party.

    What can be done? First and foremost, we need to realize the nature of the problem and accept that elite failure cannot be responded to with more of the same. A good deal of the Democratic Party’s messaging has been wrapped in nostalgia. But populism’s resurgence is a symptom of the failures of the past. Pearl-clutching for the good old days will not get us out of this. Yes, it’s important to highlight the value of norms and call for the restoration of democratic institutions. But what we need in order to move forward goes beyond more politeness and the right rhetoric. The failures of the past aren’t to be yearned for. They’re to be avoided and, crucially, understood and fixed. There will be arguments about how to rebuild a politics that can appeal to the moment, and how to mobilize for the future. There should be. Our American crisis cannot be resolved in one sweeping article that offers easy solutions. But the first step is to realize how deep this hole is for democracies around the world, including ours, and to realize that what lies ahead is not some easy comeback.

    At the moment, the Democratic Party risks celebrating Trump’s loss and moving on—an acute danger, especially because many of its constituencies, the ones that drove Trump’s loss, are understandably tired. A political nap for a few years probably looks appealing to many who opposed Trump, but the real message of this election is not that Trump lost and Democrats triumphed. It’s that a weak and untalented politician lost, while the rest of his party has completely entrenched its power over every other branch of government: the perfect setup for a talented right-wing populist to sweep into office in 2024. And make no mistake: They’re all thinking about it.

    We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.
    Zeynep Tufekci is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and an associate professor at the University of North Carolina. She studies the interaction between digital technology, artificial intelligence, and society.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Elections #Politique_US #Autoritarisme

  • Trump Proved That Authoritarians Can Get Elected in America - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/trump-proved-authoritarians-can-get-elected-america/617023

    Make no mistake: The attempt to harness Trumpism—without Trump, but with calculated, refined, and smarter political talent—is coming. And it won’t be easy to make the next Trumpist a one-term president. He will not be so clumsy or vulnerable. He will get into office less by luck than by skill. Perhaps it will be Senator Josh Hawley, who is writing a book against Big Tech because he knows that will be the next chapter in the culture wars, with social-media companies joining “fake news” as the enemy. Perhaps it will be Senator Tom Cotton, running as a law-and-order leader with a populist bent. Maybe it will be another media figure: Tucker Carlson or Joe Rogan, both men with talent and followings. Perhaps it will be another Sarah Palin—she was a prototype—with the charisma and appeal but without the baggage and the need for a presidential candidate to pluck her out of the blue. Perhaps someone like the QAnon-supporting Representative-elect Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who first beat the traditional Republican representative in the primary and then ran her race with guns blazing, mask off, and won against the Democratic candidate, a retired professor who avoided campaigning in person. Indeed, a self-made charismatic person coming out of nowhere probably has a better chance than many establishment figures in the party.

    […]

    At the moment, the Democratic Party risks celebrating Trump’s loss and moving on—an acute danger, especially because many of its constituencies, the ones that drove Trump’s loss, are understandably tired. A political nap for a few years probably looks appealing to many who opposed Trump, but the real message of this election is not that Trump lost and Democrats triumphed. It’s that a weak and untalented politician lost, while the rest of his party has completely entrenched its power over every other branch of government: the perfect setup for a talented right-wing populist to sweep into office in 2024. And make no mistake: They’re all thinking about it.

  • America Never Learns the Limits of Bootstrapping - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/08/gofundme-economy-was-never-going-work/615457

    Across the country, parents are using Facebook to form “pandemic pods,” hiring tutors or out-of-work teachers to educate their kids as school district after school district announces that it will go partially or fully virtual. Beloved mom-and-pop stores are flooding sites such as GoFundMe to seek support from their sheltered-in-place patrons. Sick people are relying on COVID-19 relief funds and hospital-bill crowdfunding campaigns. And civic entrepreneurs are forming organizations that buy meals from down-on-their-luck restaurants and ferry them to exhausted essential workers.

    These developments are a sign of American ingenuity. They are a measure of American community and can-do spirit, unleashed by social media and digital organizing. They are also a tragedy. The United States is forcing its citizens to bootstrap their way through a global catastrophe, saddling traumatized families with the burden of public administration and amplifying the country’s inequalities.

    #etats-unis #santé

  • How Will the Coronavirus End? - Ed Yong (The Atlantic)
    https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/how-will-coronavirus-end/608719

    The U.S. may end up with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the industrialized world. This is how it’s going to play out.

    #prospective (trop déprimé pour lire en détail ; l’article conclut en croyant toujours à l’exception américaine)

    The Crisis Could Last 18 Months. Be Prepared., by Juliette Kayyem, Former Department of Homeland Security official - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/there-isnt-going-be-all-clear-signal/608512

    The shutdowns happened remarkably quickly, but the process of resuming our lives will be far more muddled.

  • When Disease Comes, Rulers Grab More Power - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/when-disease-comes-leaders-grab-more-power/608560

    On March 13—Friday the 13th, as it happened—my husband was driving down a Polish highway when he turned on the news and learned that the country’s borders would shut down in 24 hours. He pulled over and called me. I bought a ticket from London to Warsaw minutes later. I don’t live there all of the time, but my husband is Polish, the only house I own is in rural Poland, and I wanted to be in it. The next morning, Heathrow Airport was spookily empty except for the Warsaw flight, which was packed (...)

    #manipulation #domination #frontières #santé #surveillance #

    ##santé ##_

  • Where Are the N95 Masks ? - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/going-war-butter-knife/608428

    Aux #etats-unis aussi, l’armée est désarmée,

    Our health-care professionals are fighting for us, but we’re not giving them the equipment they need to succeed.

    #masques

  • Katie Hill and the Many Victims of “Revenge Porn”
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/katie-hill-and-many-victims-revenge-porn/601198

    As I wrote in Lawfare before Hill’s resignation, this is the first instance of which I am aware when a politically aligned publication has published an explicit photo of an opposition politician for apparent political gain. It’s both a sign of how ugly the political landscape could become and a reminder of how ugly, for the many ordinary people who have suffered this kind of abuse, the world already is.

    […]

    Yet all of this must be separated from the question of whether or not the photos of Hill should have been made public. That, at least, has a clear answer: no. The photographs fit into the category of what is colloquially called “revenge porn” and what experts call “nonconsensual pornography”: explicit images of a person that may or may not have been taken consensually, but that are released to the public without the victim’s approval.

    Hill stated in her speech that the photos of her “were taken without my knowledge, let alone my consent.” She has blamed her husband, whom she is divorcing, for the photos’ release. If her allegations prove true, she will be far from alone: As the law professors Mary Anne Franks and Danielle Citron (a colleague of mine) write, the release of sensitive images or video against the will of the person depicted “is often a form of domestic violence.” The vast majority of victims of this practice are female (though not all: Former Texas Representative Joe Barton appears to have been a victim of the practice in 2017).

    And though research is scant at this point, sexual minorities may be particularly vulnerable. Ari Ezra Waldman, the founder and director of the Institute for CyberSafety, says that nonconsensual pornography of gay women may most commonly be released “when women come out as lesbians after breaking up with men”; the specific circumstances of Hill’s case obviously differ from this scenario, but there is a common thread in that Hill’s male former partner may have retaliated against her by releasing photos of her relationship with a woman.

  • ’National Security’ is the New ’National Defense’ - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/09/the-strange-career-of-national-security/598048

    Invoke national security, and unpopular policies become law—or the law itself may even be suspended. One act of legal levitation was George Bush’s suspension of habeas corpus for foreigners, a move that enabled the Defense Department to lock up so-called “enemy combatants” in Guantanamo Bay without trial, indefinitely. Uttering the magic phrase can make other things disappear. Shelf upon shelf of government documents vanishes from public sight after being shrouded in security classifications. Poof!

    Google NGram, the number of mentions of “national defense” and “national security” in American books from 1900 to 2000.

    #Sécurité_nationale#etats-unis

  • The Problem With Sugar-Daddy Science - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/09/problem-sugar-daddy-science/598231

    The MIT Media Lab has an integrity problem. It’s not just that the lab took donations from Jeffrey Epstein and tried to conceal their source. As that news was breaking, Business Insider reported that the lab’s much-hyped “food computer” didn’t work and that staff had tried to mislead funders into thinking it did. These stories are two sides of the same problem: sugar-daddy science—the distortion of the research process by the pursuit of money from ultra-wealthy donors, no matter how shady.

    The problem is, blank checks never come without strings. Something’s always exchanged: access, status, image. That’s where sugar-daddy science comes in. (Hat tip to Heidi N. Moore, who inspired the term with her Twitter critiques of what she calls sugar-daddy journalism.) Research labs cultivate plutocrats and corporate givers who want to be associated with flashy projects. Science stops being a tool to achieve things people need—clean water, shelter, food, transit, communication—and becomes a fashion accessory. If the labs are sleek, the demos look cool, and they both reflect the image the donor wants, then mission accomplished. Nothing needs to actually work.

    The Media Lab took sugar-daddy science to a new level. Epstein’s interests in science, like a desire to “seed the human race” by impregnating dozens of women and to have his head and penis frozen after his death, were more literally sexual than most. But he didn’t invent the hustle. It’s an old philanthropy problem: Donor gratification takes precedence over results.

    The MIT Media Lab already had a reputation for this before Epstein. Its One Laptop per Child project was a notorious failure. Like the food computer, it was based on a faulty premise (laptops aren’t known to actually make a difference in a child’s education), wildly oversold (the laptops were supposed to be powered by hand crank, but a working hand crank was never actually developed, and all models were powered by electrical cord), and built to fulfill donor dreams rather than a demonstrated real-world need.

    A project for futuristic, bio-inspired design took $125,000 from Epstein and made him a light-up orb as a gift—over objections from students working in the project lab. This lab’s work includes, among truly visionary work like biomanufactured chitin structures, showpiece clothing demos. One set was purported to show how biodesign could help wearers survive harsh conditions on other planets. The clothes are, however, entirely nonfunctional, and were photographed on skinny, half-naked women.

    How do we stop sugar-daddy science? The only long-term solution is to bring back federal funding so researchers can stop relying on donations from the beneficiaries of widening inequality. America’s competitiveness on the world stage depends on research and development. If we can’t make science that actually works, our nation is toast. Writers such as Anand Giridharadas have written relentlessly about reviving public research and other social services. This, however, has to be fixed through the democratic process, which will take time.

    So what can research institutions do to ensure the integrity of their work? There are obvious solutions, such as: Don’t take money from people who are on your banned-donor list for being convicted pedophiles. Basic oversight, like financial audits, can go a long way.

    #Philanthropie #Médialab #MIT #Sugar_Daddy_Science