A few days ago, I came across a tweet predicting that the “brilliant intrepid scientist” who discovers a coronavirus vaccine will enjoy only “3 minutes of global admiration before people start combing through his old tweets to see if he ever said something problematic.”
One may laugh at such a notion, but there is precedent for this sort of thing. Remember the scientist who landed a space probe on a comet only to be #cancelled for wearing a “sexist” shirt? As Time noted,
“Taylor’s shirt may not have been in great taste. But the outcry against it [was] the latest, most blatant example of feminism turning into its own caricature: a Sisterhood of the Perpetually Aggrieved, far more interested in shaming and bashing men for petty offenses than in celebrating female achievement.”
We’ve only seen more instances of this in the intervening years, coming not only via the channel of feminism, but through other politically correct topics as well.
Still, I allowed myself to hope that this time, things would be different. Surely, during a global health crisis, the leftist twitterati could set aside their addiction to performative wokeness and come together to focus on getting things done.
In a HuffPost piece published Thursday, Oxford gender studies professor Emily Cousens wrote that her “initial relief” at hearing that her own university was leading the race for a coronavirus vaccine was quickly “followed by worry.”
What reasons could a sane person have for being worried about a vaccine that could save hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives worldwide? Well, arguably none, but Cousens gives several anyway.
One area of concern for Cousens is that if British scientists discover a vaccine, the “UK will be the world’s saviour” and the British electorate will “quickly forget the devastating delay of the UK government to take action.” She goes on to blame Prime Minister Boris Johnson for having “proudly safeguarded British institutions like individual liberty, and the pub, over lives.” The accusation that the prime minister doesn’t care about British lives is especially ironic since Cousens seems loathe to reduce the number of people who die waiting for a vaccine unless that vaccine also inoculates them against their annoying tendency to vote for Johnson’s Conservative party.
But it gets worse.
Her final implication is that if the eventual discoverers of the vaccine are “white, male and Oxford-educated,” people might actually trust that they know what they’re doing. This cannot stand! Any suggestion that white, ivory-tower types (with the obvious exception of Cousens herself) are competent rather than merely privileged is simply unacceptable. How will we ever get rid of racism and sexism if people are allowed to think such things?
According to Cousens, “progress” in the concrete sense of saving lives and curing disease must take a back seat to the optics of ideological progressivism. Therefore, it seems the only possible solution is to wait around until a team of third-world, LGBTQQIA+ trans-women scientists of color discovers a vaccine. Millions may die in the meantime, but it’s a small price to pay for wokeness.
[Image Credit: Pixabay]
Grayson Quay is a freelance writer. His work has been published in The National Interest, Reason, and The American Conservative. He earned his M.A. in English literature from Georgetown University in 2019.