Comparing COVID Restrictions to Nazism Is OK

Dan Gelernter wonders if comparing COVID restrictions to Nazism is ever OK, and concludes that it is. His argument centers on government action against a disfavored class. In National Socialist Germany, Jews were the primary disfavored class. In the United States and allied nations today, the unvaccinated, or anyone critical of government health policies, find themselves increasingly vilified, disfavored, and even threatened. 

“This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Joe Biden said in September. The unvaccinated “can cause a lot of damage—and they are,” and Biden has a plan “to combat those blocking public health.” As the Delaware Democrat warned, “we’ve been patient but our patience is wearing thin,” so “get vaccinated.” 

If that does not convey disfavored status it’s hard to imagine what might. Maybe a yellow star would do the trick, but to adapt what Marlon Brando said in “On the Waterfront” there’s “a lot more” to this Nazi comparison business than people might think. 

The primary author of Biden’s 3,548-word message was doubtless chief White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci. Biden has joked that Fauci is the real president, but that might understate the matter. 

Fauci, a government bureaucrat since 1968 and head of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, has never faced a vote of the people. The president must deal with Congress, which controls spending. With his budget of more than $6 billion, Fauci controls a great deal of medical research spending, even as he lays down public health policy. On top of all that, Fauci can boast the ultimate strategic ally. 

His wife, Christine Grady, heads up bioethics at the National Institutes of Health, including NIH’s work with “human subjects.” It is as though Nancy Reagan served as a special counsel for President Ronald Reagan, and greenlighted the Iran-Contra scandal. 

Fauci’s wife is also the author of The Search for an AIDS Vaccine: Ethical Issues in the Development and Testing of a Preventative HIV Vaccine, from Indiana University Press in 1995. To adapt a maxim of UC Berkeley molecular biologist Peter Duesberg, this book is like a bikini, interesting for what it reveals and for what it conceals.

At the time of publication, Grady was acting clinical director and research associate at the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), part of the National Institutes of Health. She claims the book was written “in her private capacity,” and not supported or endorsed by the NIH, though she acknowledges several people in NIH agencies, including NIAID and NINR.

Grady dedicates the book “to my family,” but does not reveal that she had been married to Dr. Anthony Fauci for 10 years. In his only named appearance, Grady’s husband shows up on page 55 as the “director of NIAID,” conveniently enough, “the branch of the NIH primarily responsible for vaccine development.”

Fauci headed up AIDS policy, and back then the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP) and other activists were “taking matters into their own hands.” In July 1990, Fauci announced that such activists would have representation on all committees and in all activities of NIAID’s AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG). 

“The regulations governing the conduct for clinical trials for vaccines in the U.S.,” Grady explains, “are the same as those for clinical trials of drugs.” The drug of choice for Fauci’s NIAID was AZT, azidothymidine, marketed as Zidovudine and Retrovir

As professor Duesberg noted in 1990, AZT is a DNA chain terminator designed for the treatment of leukemia but never accepted for cancer therapy. AZT is cytotoxic, lethal to body cells, and there was no evidence that AZT would cure or prevent AIDS. Duesberg wrote the foreword to John Lauritsen’s Poison by Prescription: The AZT Story, published in 1992 and endorsed by, among others, UC Berkeley molecular biologist Harry Rubin, a pioneer in the field of retroviruses. 

The AIDS activists demanded AZT as their right and advanced a curious view of those participating in the clinical trials. As Grady notes, the exclusion of vulnerable groups such as children or women of childbearing age, “was called discriminatory.” Instead of being harmful, exploitative and unjust, “participation in clinical trials was seen as a benefit, so those denied access were being harmed. Some perceived participation not only as a benefit but as a right.” 

The rules for clinical drug tests and vaccine development are the same, and Grady explains that children “should not be one of the first groups to bear the burdens of efficacy testing of preventive vaccines.” (emphasis added) So the bioethicist, who earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Georgetown in 1993, does not rule out the eventual use of children to “bear the burdens” of drug trials, which her husband also applied to pregnant women. 

“The ideal HIV vaccine,” readers learn on page six, “should be safe enough to administer to large numbers of healthy adults and children.” As she reviews past vaccine research, Grady charts what can possibly go wrong. 

“Nazi Germany brought the difficult issues in research with human subjects to the attention of the public and medical/scientific communities,” Grady writes. “In the name of ‘experimentation,’ human torture and atrocities were performed on thousands of Jews and justified as medical research.” 

Josef Mengele, the most notorious Nazi doctor, goes unmentioned, but “Dr. Klaus Karl Schilling infected more than 1,000 prisoners at Dachau with malaria without their consent.” The experiments exposed at the Nuremberg trials “forced an examination of human research,” and “the medical profession was aware that serious breaches of ethics had occurred in the past.” The author moves on to Thalidomide, released in the 1950s as a remedy for morning sickness in pregnant women.

Thalidomide was “thought to be exceptionally safe,” Grady writes, but left “thousands of children with severe and unusual deformities” such as hands attached to shoulders, feet attached to hips and so forth. “The harm done was the result of inadequate research,” according to Grady, who needed to conduct more adequate research on this subject.  

Thalidomide was the product of Chemie Grünenthal and the subject of a court case in 1970. A name on the original patent was Dr. Heinrich Mückter, the company’s head of research and a Nazi war criminal who conducted medical experiments in prison camps. In the 1970s, Grünenthal appointed as the chairman of their board Otto Ambros, the inventor of sarin nerve gas who was jailed for mass murder at Auschwitz

Professor Ray Stokes of the University of Glasgow finds evidence that, before 1944, Ambros had a hand in the development of Thalidomide as an antidote to the nerve toxins sarin and tabun. In the 1950s, with Mückter aboard, Grünenthal marketed Thalidomide to pregnant women for morning sickness. Embattled Americans might find a parallel, or at least one in progress. 

Dr. Fauci’s NIAID promoted AZT, a drug the NIAID boss had to know was toxic, in trials involving children and pregnant women. Fauci’s wife Christine Grady touted the “effectiveness” of AZT and wrote that children should not be “one of the first groups” to bear the burden of testing. 

For women of child-bearing age, participation in the trials was their “right.” In similar style, Grady supports an ethic that downplays the rights, interest and well-being of the individual in favor of “the community.” This casuist now heads bioethics at the NIH and her husband, director of the NIH division responsible for vaccine development, is Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor.  

In his statement last September, Biden mentioned nothing about possible side effects or possible long-term medical problems with vaccines that had been hastily developed. “What more is there to wait for?” Biden said.  “What more do you need to see?  We’ve made vaccinations free, safe, and convenient.” And so on. 

Children are at low risk for COVID-19 but Fauci wants to vaccinate them, starting in the first grade. What could possibly go wrong? As it happens, Pfizer wants 75 years before revealing the data on its vaccine, and harmful side effects are already turning up with other vaccines. For embattled Americans, particularly those vilified by Joe Biden, that might raise some issues.  

Grünenthal did not officially apologize for Thalidomide until 2012, more than 50 years after the drug was withdrawn from the market. For further reading, see Silent Shock: The Men Behind the Thalidomide Scandal and an Australian Family’s Long Road to Justice, by Michael Magazanik. 

The author is Jewish, but as he says, “You don’t have to be Jewish to find the Nazis abhorrent, and the historic links between multiple Nazis and the company which developed and sold Thalidomide are deeply disturbing.”

Thousands of victims remain, and as Katie Thomas explained in the New York Times, the unseen survivors of Thalidomide want to be heard.” This ongoing story has a moral: the medical and legal consequences of what Christine called “inadequate research.” 

We’re not living in Germany in 1944, writes Dan Gelernter, but much of the world looks like Germany before Hitler. Australia has set up COVID concentration camps, “where people are held against their will,” with police and soldiers on patrol. That justifies historical comparisons with Nazism, “unless you’re absolutely certain it couldn’t happen here.” 

As Gelernter learned in Hebrew day school, Jews in Nazi Germany thought it couldn’t happen there, “and they continued to think that, even while it was happening.” 

“There’s something happening here,” sang the Buffalo Springfield in “For What It’s Worth,” lyrics by Stephen Stills. In 1967, it was government backlash to the anti-war movement. In 2022, it’s the white coat supremacy of Anthony Fauci, validated by his wife Christine Grady. 

It now seems that whatever Fauci wants to do, his wife will tell him it’s OK. What could possibly go wrong? For what it’s worth, consider Stephen Stills’ warning: You better stop, children, what’s that sound?  Everybody look what’s going down.”

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About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Photo: Stephen Stills (L) and Neil Young of Buffalo Spingfield perform on June 1, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)