WHO Throws a Concert Days After Dems Slam Trump for Cutting Funding


If there’s any brand that doesn’t need name recognition right now, it’s the World Health Organization. In fact, I think it would benefit from a little less of it. If it could go away for a few months and we just didn’t hear anything about it, that would be super.

Alas, the world’s most overexposed United Nations agency thought it was worth throwing a massive concert over the weekend with some of the biggest stars of today and yesteryear (I can see millennials now: “Who’s Lily Tomlin and what’s a ‘ringy-dingy‘?”) and streaming it over the internet for all to see.

I missed it because I’m a grown man who, despite liking many of the acts that were playing, realized we’d see one song from them at most. The rest were dross and since the event didn’t really have a public schedule, I’d have to sit through a perfunctory performance of “Tik Tok” by Kesha and a heartfelt but meaningless monologue by Amy Poehler before getting to actual music.

I literally have anything better to do with my time; I either spent it brushing up on Ezra Pound’s “The Pisan Cantos” or clinching the AFC Central in Tecmo Super Bowl. (Oilers represent!)

Here was the lineup, in case you missed it:

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Notice how it’s done alphabetically; I got the feeling that’s to make people feel better. Alicia Keys is one of the first names mentioned even though she last had a hit right about the time Barack Obama was feeling the electoral pinch from Mitt Romney. (More immediately recognizable names like, say, Elton John and Taylor Swift, are buried deep inside.)

But here’s the thing: The whole shindig was sponsored by the World Health Organization, which apparently wanted to make sure we knew the kind of goodwill it’s all about.

Does the World Health Organization deserve to lose U.S. funding?

Here’s the thing: I don’t know how much the WHO spent on this, and perhaps it even recouped some money. However, this isn’t an organization that’s supposed to be tasked with fun times.

In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the WHO more or less relied on information from China as if it were gospel. They had it under control? You bet your bippy they did. No human to human contact? Sure, why not. They had the whole thing on lockdown in Wuhan? Time for a celebration — until, of course, those numbers were revised upwards and the dictatorial methods they used to lock down the city came to light. You’ve got to break a few eggs, after all.

The fact that the WHO is extremely deferential to China while strongly warning the United States about any potential moves to correct the heavily pro-Beijing bias has been a constant source of agitation for the Trump administration.

In an April 14 White House announcement, Trump said the United States would be investigating China’s “role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” according to The Hill.

The move would look at how the WHO “failed to adequately obtain, vet and share information in a timely and transparent fashion.”

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Democrats decried this, saying that it was designed to take the attention of what they saw as Trump’s own failures.

“Withholding funds for WHO in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century makes as much sense as cutting off ammunition to an ally as the enemy closes in,” Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy said in a statement. “The White House knows that it grossly mishandled this crisis from the beginning, ignoring multiple warnings and squandering valuable time, dismissing medical science, comparing COVID 19 to the common cold, and saying ‘everything will be fine.'”

This deflection works just fine unless you consider the White House closed most travel from China in late January and from Europe in mid-March. In both circumstances, this was deemed unnecessary by the Democrats and, to a lesser extent in the second circumstance, the WHO. This is cherry-picking statements by Trump while disregarding the WHO’s appalling history of placating China during the pandemic.

An editorial in the journal Nature similarly cherry-picked the facts:

“Trump’s administration has been increasingly critical of the agency, which for months has guided the world in how to tackle the deadly coronavirus. That work — and the WHO’s other life-saving interventions around the world — will be at risk if the agency loses its US funding, which amounted to nearly US$900 million for 2018–19.

“It isn’t yet clear whether the White House can withhold this funding — especially the portion that has been approved by the US Congress — and if so, how much it can keep back. But even talk of doing so in the middle of a global health and economic crisis cannot be condemned strongly enough.”

That piece, published last week, is the kind of thing your freshman philosophy teacher passes out so that you can point out the errors. Nature’s editorial said that “influential lawmakers have been calling for an investigation into the WHO’s actions, claiming that the agency was too slow to sound the alarm and too deferential to the Chinese government.”

“At the same time, they are implicating the WHO in wider questions being directed at China’s government. These include that China could have acted more quickly to lock down in the days after the first outbreak, and that public officials withheld important information. Such questions must be asked of China, but they are not for the WHO — which acts at the behest of governments — to answer. And they are not reasons to de-fund the agency.”

Rhetoricians will recognize the straw-man argument straight away. Bluntly put, the questions being asked of China aren’t the ones being asked of the WHO. Those unmentioned questions for the World Health Organzation would be:

Why did you buy China’s version of events, particularly when China’s lied in the past and vigorously delayed allowing investigators in on the ground? When China lied this time, particularly concerning human-to-human transmission, why did the WHO continue to praise the communist country? Why, when the United States raised objections to this treatment, was it deemed to be “politicizing” the event?

Onward and upward — well, maybe downward:

“It is, of course, crucial that lessons are learnt from all stages of this pandemic,” the editorial continued. “Once it is over, there will be many national and international investigations and inquiries — including the WHO’s own — and these will uncover what went right, what went wrong and what could have been done better. It is always tough to operate in a pandemic, and tougher still when essential cooperation between governments is at a low ebb. Such inquiries will be an opportunity to improve and to grow. They are not a reason to undermine or attack.”

(TL;DR version: “Mistakes were made. Who made them? Look, don’t ask silly questions, governments, multilateral organizations and inquiries will find this out in due time. Just be assured these are the adults in the room and they deserve your undivided attention.”)

“It is right that researchers, funders and governments have been protesting against Trump’s decision, and they must continue to do so in the strongest terms,” Nature’s editors wrote. “Those in the United States must also lobby their lawmakers at every level. The president and his administration must not withhold funding from the WHO. Doing so will place more lives at risk and ensure that the world takes longer to emerge from this crisis.

“Nearly 70 years ago, the United States was instrumental in helping to establish the WHO. Nations realized that they needed such an agency in part because they couldn’t tackle pandemics by acting alone. It is a sad indictment of the state of our world that the agency is now having to fight for its future while doing the job it was created to do,” it concluded. “We need to support the WHO so it is at its strongest, not undermine it at such a crucial hour.”

All of this elides over the most crucial fact: The WHO has bungled this so badly it’s become a propaganda organ of the aspiring superpower that was responsible for the virus spreading thanks to inattention and deliberate misinformation from the outset. Now WHO ends up sponsoring a concert. Yay! Go them!

It’s worth pointing out that the concert raised $127 million for coronavirus patients, according to Variety. That’s great. However, the WHO isn’t really in the business of sponsoring concerts, and plenty of other groups would have stepped into the void.

Another group could have brought America together instead of tearing it asunder like an international health organization with a profoundly spotty record during this crisis that includes acting as a mouthpiece for the communist dictatorship in Beijing. So there’s that.

Then again, the elites may not have cared. Remember, it’s not hard to stay at home when you’re already rich and you have job prospects. For the 22 million Americans who are unemployed because of the coronavirus, neither of those are necessarily the case.

This doesn’t mean Washington is going to automatically defund the WHO. It means the system is irretrievably broken, even if the United States is the most prominent benefactor, ponying up 22 percent of the assessed fees going toward the program, according to the non-profit group KFF.

Given how far WHO has gone off the rails, that funding should be in question — and that’s a question that won’t be answer by WHO sponsoring a concert of cosseted celebrities pretending they’re suffering the same effects from the coronavirus lockdown as the rest of humanity.

Why doesn’t WHO let its results speak for themselves instead of trying to get a concert do the work?

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture