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OPINION | BRENDA LOOPER: Hit or myth

by Brenda Looper | May 12, 2021 at 3:20 a.m.
Brenda Looper

Myths die hard. Too hard nowadays.

I'm not talking about Greek or Roman or Norse mythology and all those misbehaving gods. Talking about Loki (the mythic version or the Marvel one portrayed by Tom Hiddleston) would make me much happier.

No, it's political myths that, no matter how many times they're debunked using primary sources (including our own eyes), always seem to keep coming back.

There's the idea that Joe Biden botched the H1N1 vaccine in 2009, something I talked about in January that still comes up. Here's what I wrote then:

"Biden went too far by saying that he led the response, as his primary role was behind the scenes. Says Politico: 'Biden's role, while significant, was not equivalent to leading the response. He was the administration's main liaison to governors and Congress and succeeded in securing funding from skeptical leaders.'

"Regardless of his level of involvement, the delay in the vaccine was not due to political considerations at all, but simply realities in developing a vaccine for flu (which, though the illness has similar symptoms, isn't the same as a coronavirus) based on time-consuming incubation in eggs. 'That meant there would be a lag in preparing the seed stocks of virus that manufacturers needed to start production,' wrote Natasha Korecki of Politico. 'But the Obama administration made a significant mistake: [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius' team at HHS nonetheless announced that if all went as planned, they should have 100 million doses ready for use by mid-October. That was consistent with promises made by the vaccine manufacturers, who had actually contracted for 120 million doses by October, but before the delays in the seed stocks. All did not go as planned. The slowness in growing the virus needed for the vaccine was compounded by a range of additional setbacks, including repeated glitches in manufacturing the drug.'"

Biden didn't lead the response, and he certainly didn't handle vaccine development, so that claim is false, no matter how many times it's repeated.

And, by the way, being stubborn about the covid vaccine accomplishes nothing but a continuation of the very restrictions you've been railing against. Get the shot, and then more of us can take off our masks.

There's also the idea that the 2020 election was illegitimate (mainly because President Trump lost). Votes have been counted, recounted, audited, and certified, and no evidence of fraud sufficient to change the results has been found. Researchers at the conservative Hoover Institution noted in a paper published in February that after reviewing the most prominent claims, "we conclude that none of them is even remotely convincing."

Still, there's that bit of partisan political theater going on in Maricopa County, Ariz., which, The Associated Press reports, so far has included searches for nonexistent watermarks (supposedly Trump had watermarked mail ballots, which would be a neat trick since elections are handled locally, not federally) and bamboo fibers (because I guess there's no paper in South Korea, from where a conspiracy theory posits a plane delivered counterfeit ballots to Phoenix). The group running the audit has been less than transparent about its funding and procedures, and has tried to block media access.

The same reasoning for why I trust the fact-checking services I use (they show their work, link to original sources, and freely disclose the sources of their funding) is why I wouldn't trust the Cyber Ninja audit in Arizona. There are other reasons: The audit is likely not in accordance with federal election law and sets a dangerous precedent; many of the governors and secretaries of state who certified the vote totals were Republican, and some, like Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, bragged about their states' handling of the election; and multiple courts have dismissed dozens of lawsuits related to the 2020 campaign, with judges criticizing the sweeping allegations of irregularities and fraud without proof (no, most of those "sworn affidavits" weren't filed in court, and are considered hearsay).

What voting fraud has been found in elections in the past decade or so was caught because of the measures already in place. Adding more restrictions seems like overkill designed to decrease turnout. But surely no one wants that ...

Yeah, I can't keep a straight face on that one.

Myths can be very entertaining; Greek mythology always seemed like a soap opera to me, which may be why I loved it. But myths can also be dangerous, especially if you put too much faith in them, such as the myths about the 2020 election, or all those myths about the covid vaccine (no, there are no fetal cells in the vaccine, or live virus) or the virus itself. Which means they must be fought.

As John Cook writes on The Conversation, "Myths are persistent, stubborn and memorable. To dislodge a myth, you need to counter it with an even more compelling, memorable fact."

Maybe it's just me, but I've always found the truth pretty darn compelling.


Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com. Email her at blooper@adgnewsroom.com.

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