USA er konspirationsteoriernes højborg. Jeg håber ikke, Danmark er på samme vanvidskurs.
Conspiracy theories must be met with facts and not with us shaking our heads
The United States is the stronghold of conspiracy theories. I do not hope Denmark is on the same course of madness.
The other day I saw a feature about a Danish woman who had not intended to receive a vaccine against Covid-19 when it became available. The woman stood in front of Christiansborg with a megaphone and raved about various incoherent, undocumented errors, the use of language inspired by American conspiracy theories. To my surprise, a number of Danes had turned up to support her. My first reaction was to shake her head, she clearly needed help of a professional nature.
But then I came to think of how people like her here in the United States were met when, at the beginning of the Corona Crisis, they gathered in small demonstrations without a mask and with the message that Covid-19 did not exist at all, but was somehow the authorities’ way of controlling the population.
At the time, we were also shaking our heads. We do not do that anymore. Now the group has grown so large that it has become powerful, especially on social media. The group still believes that the corona pandemic does not exist and that one should not be vaccinated. That kind of thing is dangerous because it can ultimately affect public health and cost human lives.
U.S. physicians, epidemiologists, and experts are begging Trump and his administration to take the policy out of Covid communications and let the response to the pandemic be led by the experts and their knowledge and advice. It has fallen on deaf ears, there are many more brainwashed supporters and loyal Trumpists belonging to the group who do not believe in science that it makes political sense for Trump to listen to the expertise. We all know the result of totally ignorant but backstabbing advisers whispering the big leader in the ear.
The most important weapon against Covid-19 and for a successful introduction and reception of vaccines is communication.
When the polio vaccine was introduced to the American people in its time, it became primarily a success due to a successful, repeated and honest communication to the people. Elvis Presley got the vaccine for rolling cameras, and that was roughly enough to convince the public that they should accept the vaccine.
That is not the situation today. One politician after another, from Republican Vice President Mike Pence to Joe Biden, lets himself be stabbed in the arm in front of a corps of reporting journalists and turned on cameras in an attempt to convince the American people that the vaccine is safe.
When communication is not coordinated, evidence-based and consistent, it creates distrust in the population. I am naturally aware that there were things we did not know at the beginning of the pandemic and therefore could not communicate as we know today. But when a communication to the population from the official side becomes decidedly false and deliberately misleading, then there is reason for criticism.
Here in the United States, Americans have been subjected to a politicized communication that has created fertile ground for conspiracy theories, mistrust, and distrust of experts. All aggravated by a president who, for his own political gain, has deliberately misled the American people and used the pandemic to further divide the population.
Although not all initiatives from Mette Frederiksen have been equally beautiful to look at, she has from the beginning used Denmark’s leading experts in the field when it came to navigating a crisis that developed from week to week. Again and again, flanked by her ministers, leading health experts and representation for law enforcement, she has sent a consistent signal that Denmark is united and that the handling of the Corona crisis is based on the experts’ guidelines.
We in the United States have not had an overall response, the handling has been left to the states. This has meant that the different states have reacted differently to the pandemic. Some states introduced restrictions early, others did not. Leading politicians in certain states have conveyed untrue information to their populations. It creates confusion in a population, the exact opposite of what experts want and see as a necessity to be the most effective handling of a pandemic.
If politicians put aside their political motivations and let scientists, experts, doctors and health professionals be the voices behind a national effort by Covid-19, it would put a damper on the spread of viruses that have put the United States in the horrific situation it finds itself in, i.a. due to a catastrophic inadequate handling.
It’s really quite simple: wear mask, keep distance, wash hands, avoid larger assemblies. Now that we have a vaccine, the premise of getting the pandemic under control should be present, even if it is going to take a year.
I see cracks in political cooperation in Denmark, and the figures show a declining confidence in the leading politicians. Of course, we must show critical sense. But we must also trust that the politicians elected by the majority of Denmark’s population have Denmark’s well – being as their ultimate goal. The time has not come to play political Christmas games, the situation is far too serious for that.
Therefore, lids must be placed on ignorant but often eloquent foghorns. They must be rejected by experts as soon as they put into words their divisive, insane lies. I hope that Denmark will be more or less united. The experience of living in the United States has taught me that a divided country does not serve anyone, not even those who end up paying the highest price.