Scientists chided Twitter owner Elon Musk after he said Sunday that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, ought to be punished — while disparaging the inclusive use of pronouns.
“My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” Musk yelled to his 21 million Twitter followers.
The rant came without context but appeared targeted at stoking right-wing theories about Fauci’s role in handling the COVID outbreak.
Fauci, the primary White House medical adviser, has been demonized by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and many others on the right.
Epidemiologists and many others immediately came to defend Fauci.
Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert and professor of virology, tweeted, “For the record: Dr. Fauci has done nothing wrong but serve our nation.”
“In the meantime, Mr. Musk should be aware that 200,000 Americans sadly died from COVID due to this type of anti-science rhetoric and disinformation,” he concluded.
“Elon, I’m demanding that you remove this Tweet.”
“I completely agree,” said Dr. Paul Sax, Harvard University’s Infectious Disease Clinic director.
Dr. Joy Henningsen stated that the tweet “endangers healthcare practitioners.”
“This is a dog whistle to people who have attacked physicians and other healthcare professionals from the beginning of the pandemic,” she tweeted. “There’s nothing to charge.”
Right-wing criticism has focused on Fauci’s support for immunizations, social distancing, and masking, all of which have been shown to reduce the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 1 million people in the United States since it emerged in early 2020.
Fauci is set to leave his long-held position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the end of the year.