Dr. Anthony Fauci told Princeton University graduates that the COVID-19 pandemic has spawned a “cacophony of falsehoods and lies” that has poisoned society.
The world-famous infectious disease doctor told the Ivy Leaguers on Monday to be on alert for leaders who spew lies to further their own political ends at the expense of the public good.
“Sadly, elements of our society have grown increasingly inured to a cacophony of falsehoods and lies that often stand largely unchallenged,” Fauci said. “We see this happen daily … from certain elected officials in positions of power.”
Fauci did not mention former President Trump or his MAGA movement by name.
But he left little doubt that he was talking about the right-wing rejection of common-sense public health measures like vaccines and masking to prevent the spread of COVID.
“What troubles me is that differences of opinion or ideology have in certain situations been reflected by egregious distortions of reality,” Fauci said.
He also told the grads that the pandemic has “left an indelible mark” on their generation and urged them to fight the racial and economic inequalities that it has exposed.
“Let us promise ourselves that our (memory) of the tragic reality of the inequities experienced with COVID-19 does not fade after we return to our new normal,” Fauci said. “It will take a decades-long commitment for society to address these disparities.”
Fauci spoke to a crowd of about 5,000 people at the New Jersey university’s storied Nassau Hall for a Class Day ceremony ahead of the commencement Tuesday.
The public health expert has become a lightning rod for criticism by Trump’s army of loyal supporters since the former president left office.
Although he mostly avoided open criticism while Trump was in office, he has become increasingly vocal about his disagreements with Trump’s controversial management of the pandemic.
Fauci told the grads to learn the lesson of his own career. He fought the AIDS epidemic and then came face-to-face with the worst pandemic in living memory.
“Expect the unexpected and stay heads up for an unanticipated opportunity should it present itself,” he said. “At the end of the day, go with your own gut.”
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