Not cool

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It was just about a month ago that our highly-esteemed Dr Lester Simon weighed in on the announcement that a fete was to be held by concert promoters for up to three hundred vaccinated patrons. Dr. Simon, a thoughtful and well-respected voice of prudence and caution, called the fete a “eulogy to nonsense,” and “madness.” Said the good doctor, “Madness is dancing across the land. I hear that they are planning a fete for hundreds of vaccinated people. How are they going to police that, when they can’t even police a yacht sailing from Antigua to Dominica.” Of course, Dr Simon was certainly not speaking out of turn, because his concerns are valid, and they are shared by a goodly number of the citizenry who are urging restraint in this . . . er . . . “irrational exuberance,” and this haste to open up all areas of our social and economic life.  Yes, there are men and women of goodwill in this fair land who are persuaded, much like the good doctor, that we ought to be acting with due deliberation, “out of an abundance of caution.”

Sadly, Dr Simon’s words of caution were ridiculed by the geniuses in high places in this administration. They chortled and dismissed his legitimate concerns. They said that while he is an outstanding physician and a most competent head of our laboratory, he is a neophyte on things having to do with fetes, and so on and so forth. They as much as told him, in words dripping with derision to ‘shut up and know his place.’ It was awful – the rudeness of this administration, and many Antiguans and Barbudans were rightfully turned off. After all, we would much rather hear the voice of the good Dr Simon, a voice of reason and good sense, on health and all other matters, than any of those in high places in this pathetic administration.

Remember, the voices emanating from this administration are muffled by a self-serving political calculus. The thinking from those in high places is warped by expediency and an eye on the next election. They always have an agenda! Theirs is not the stuff of an objective and dispassionate analysis of the facts. Needless to say, many Antiguans and Barbudans were deeply offended by the treatment meted out to our distinguished Dr Simon, who, in his capacity as a physician, was merely articulating what any doctor worth his stethoscope would say. He was being true to the Hippocratic oath, which is designed to prevent self-serving doctors from harming their patients. It speaks to physicians doing all in their power to cause no physical or moral harm to the public. Dr Simon felt that the staging of a three-hundred-person fete had the potential to do a great deal of harm. He felt, and he is at ground zero in this fight against Covid, that to sanction that fete could be assisting in reversing our hard-won gains. He could not, in good professional conscience, keep silent, thereby giving consent. We concur!

But wait! There’s more by way of infamy from this feckless administration. Not that it would be easy to top (or bottom) the impertinence of the Minister of Information who had, in response to Dr. Simon’s earlier concerns about ‘fete crashers’ (some of whom could be unvaccinated), and so on and so forth, pointedly remarked, “This is absolutely not Dr Simon’s lane.” As reported in yesterday’s BIG STORIES (5:30 newscast), our ranking officials were again weighing in with smarmy and disparaging remarks, simply because the good doctor disagreed with them, and had the testicular fortitude to say so out loud. Oh, the temerity of it all!

Of course, those in high places demand that everyone sing from the same hymn book, never mind the irrefutable science and the facts. Dr Simon does not have an agenda or an ax to grind. He is simply presenting the facts! Nonetheless, dissenting opinions are frowned on here in Mudville. It is the coin of the realm.

Look at how a simple disagreement as to who bore the bulk of the blame for the spread of Covid here in Antigua and Barbuda – tourists or returning nationals, descended into a mudfest by those in high places. According to one of the mud-slingers, “And we know from looking at the data that clearly, the number of Antigua and Barbuda nationals and residents returning, who have a greater level of intimacy than the tourist who is visiting, that it is that level of intimacy that accounts for a larger number of Antiguans and Barbudans spreading it within their families, and then their families going out to work and spreading it among co-workers and so on. And that has been the evidence. We don’t know where that doctor got his information from, but he was clearly wrong, and I think that Minister Melford Nicholas encouraged him to stick with his expertise, and he is very good at what he does, extraordinarily good at what he does, but this is a little bit outside his forte . . .” Good grief! The impudence by those in high places.

All that Dr Simon was saying was that, “ . . . I say this, because when I happen to speak, and if I ask questions about tourists, and tourists versus nationals, quite frankly it is a confusion that needs to be settled by people involved in tourism, to come to the media and answer the questions that people in Antigua and Barbuda are asking. And some of these questions are ‘what’s the bubble that you are talking about? There’s no bubble. They’re going all over the place.’ And this idea that only locals bring back Covid is nonsense! Yes, the vast majority may come from residents here, but there are tourists who have brought Covid into this country, and it must be said, and it must be understood. . . .  It is a matter that needs to be discussed, and discussed fairly and honestly.” So right, Dr Simon! And certainly not a remark that should have provoked such a vulgar response from the administration. We mean, who are they dismissively referring to as, “That doctor . . .?” Sigh!

The lock-step thinking and mindless conformity to this administration’s narrative will hold no currency with Dr Simon. He never was a conformist! Not since his days as a brilliant top student at the Antigua Grammar School. This writer recalls how Dr Simon’s name was uttered in hushed and reverential tones in the halls of the ol’ semper virens. In the years since, he has lived up to all that was expected of him. He has distinguished himself – a renaissance man indeed! That those in high places would seek to cast aspersions at him, or belittle his thoughtful remarks, is a travesty. Definitely not cool! We ought not to abide it!

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