Prof Peter Hotez, a Baylor College of Medicine professor of pediatrics and molecular virology, is urging for federal “hate-crime” protections to be expanded to include criticism of Dr. Anthony Fauci and other scientists.
In a July 28 paper in PLOS Biology titled “Mounting antiscience aggression in the United States,” Peter Hotez writes that a “band of ultraconservative members of the US Congress and other public officials with far-right leanings are waging organized and seemingly well-coordinated attacks against prominent US biological scientists.”
Hotez suggests that it is not enough to simply encourage such research; it is also necessary to criminalize attacks against it. This is one of a lot of proposals put out short to support scientists, but it is the most worrying.
Hotez contends that good science necessitates cracking down on the “right,” citing Nazi and fascist movements throughout history.
“Still another possibility is to extend federal hate-crime protections.” he said. “As Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel once pointed out, neutrality or silence favors the oppressor. We must take steps to protect our scientists and take swift and positive action to counter the growing wave of far-right antiscience aggression. Not taking action is a tacit endorsement, and a guarantee that the integrity and productivity of science in the United States will be eroded or lose ground.”
“In parallel, conservative news outlets repeatedly and purposefully promote disinformation designed to portray key American scientists as enemies,” says Hotez, citing the House Republicans’ Select Subcommittee on the Origins of COVID-19 as an example of “antiscience aggression,” – claiming that it was “ignited by gain-of-function genetic engineering research from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
He promotes, for example, Rep. Paul Tonko’s Scientific Integrity Act of 2021 (H.R. 849), which was introduced in February.
Hotez claims that the law will “protect US Government scientists from political interference, but this needs to be extended for scientists at private research universities and institutes.”
He summarizes by identifying three causes of “aggression against science and scientists in America arises from three sources,” naming them as “1) Far-right members of the US Congress, 2) the conservative news outlets and 3) a group of thought leaders who provide intellectual underpinnings to fuel the first two elements.”
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