“Bruh, do you even lift?” Actually, let’s lift the veil on the bigotry and the pseudoscience that continue to plague our society. This week in “Corona Scams”, we take a closer look at the controversy that’s not only embroiling a major fitness company and “health and wellness brand”, and what this shocking story says about the all-around health of this country.
Also, we need to revisit (yet again) the “game changer” of a “miracle cure” that President Donald Trump just won’t stop talking about.
Why are we supposed to care about Crossfit’s (now former) CEO?
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Earlier today, I wrote about my disgust with the remarks made by Greg Glassman and the complicit silence of CrossFit Inc. But being disgusted is not enough. We will no longer affiliate with a company that does not share our values; a brand that doesn’t show a sincere compassion for all people, especially the marginalized among us. Black lives matter. But dropping our affiliation is not enough. We need to do more to address the issues of inequality and racism. As a business, as a community and as individuals, It's on us to do better. We will rebrand, we will grow together, and we will continue to build a supportive community with a deeper commitment to active anti-racism. Please reach out with any concerns, input or thoughts as we move forward. This is your community and your voice matters. Much more to come, Tom
Last weekend, then CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman decided to inject some incredibly crass humor into headline news. In response to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) tweeting, “Racism and discrimination are critical public health issues that demand an urgent response,” from its official account, Glassman replied, “It’s FLOYD-19”.
The backlash was strong and swift. Despite (or because of?) Glassman characterizing his botched joke tweet as “not racist but a mistake”, multiple gyms across the country announced the termination of their respective affiliations with the CrossFit brand. On top of that, Reebok announced it was also terminating its corporate partnership with CrossFit.
ICYMI: @CBSNews featured my tweet in response to CrossFit CEO.
I will always speak truth to power. My business was founded on my values and my love for my country.
It always will be.
The magic is in the community not the CEO.
Goodbye CrossFit. https://t.co/bpRIRAebz1
— Michael Muscato For Congress (@michael_muscato) June 8, 2020
And yet, Glassman did not stop with that first tweet. He also tweeted to the University of Washington IMHE, “Your failed model quarantined us and now you’re going to model a solution to racism? George Floyd’s brutal murder sparked riots nationally. Quarantine alone is ‘accompanied in every age and under all political regimes by an undercurrent of suspicion, distrust, and riots’. Thanks!”
Needless to say, this is just as unscientific as the other tweet is “absolutely racist and the worst of mistakes”.
Yes, staying home saved lives.
In previous “Corona Scam” stories, we’ve done our best to explain why social distancing has been necessary… And by extension, why “stay-at-home” and shutdown orders have been necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19. So today, we’ll just stick to the TL/DR version: Staying home saved lives.
In fact, new research suggests that the “stay-at-home” and shutdown orders likely prevented at least 4.8 million additional COVID-19 infections and possibly as many as 60 million additional COVID-19 infections here in the U.S. And despite some far-right COVID-deniers hailing some recent confusing statements from certain World Health Organization officials, scientists are still researching how widespread the asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 actually is.
And as I’ve warned previously, Nevada’s “grand reopening” poses new risks. Of course, Nevada had made some significant progress in not only “flattening the curve”, but also (what had been) a sustained decline in new COVID-19 infections and deaths. But now that casinos are reopening, now that we’re seeing evidence that social distancing enforcement is spotty at best on the Las Vegas Strip, and now that state officials are openly acknowledging the recent uptick in new COVID-19 infections following the launch of “Phase Two” reopenings, it remains to be seen whether or not this recent uptick becomes a more serious and sustained rebound in infections and hospitalizations.
Yes, COVID-19 and the economic fallout played a role in the Black Lives Matter protests… But no, it’s not what Greg Glassman claims it is.
As we pointed out last week (with Nevada’s COVID-19 data), as the Los Angeles Times detailed earlier this week (with California’s data), as Yale University and UC Berkeley have been studying, and as Mother Jones, NPR, The Atlantic, Vox, and many others have been reporting for weeks, America is experiencing a massive racial disparity in COVID-19 infections and deaths.
Even with the pandemic continuing to rage across America overall, and particularly as this racial disparity persists, states have been rushing to reopen businesses. Making this matter even worse is how black-owned businesses have been disproportionately drained and thrown out of business in the past three months while primarily white-run major corporations enjoyed “white glove/concierge service” government-backed bailouts.
Considering how we’ve left communities of color most exposed to COVID-19, how we essentially forced communities of color to wait longer for less relief funding, and how we’re now seeing communities of color being chided for “not adhering to social distancing” while the social-distancing-free (and mostly white) pro-Trump rallies mostly got kid glove treatment, can we really blame the people who are now pouring into the Black Lives Matter protests to express their outrage and disgust? While I’m still concerned at the sight of these large gatherings during an active pandemic, we can’t honestly preach the gospel of social distancing if we won’t guarantee equitable enforcement and equitable aid and relief resources.
This isn’t CrossFit’s first ride at the bigotry rodeo.
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In April of 2017 Kevin (@brattrains) and I filmed this conversation on the persistent question of race in crossfit. Maybe more people are open to hearing now. This is part one of a two part post. Forgive the camera angle, this was filmed on the back up camera for a FB live video.
More recently, we’ve learned that now former CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman did not denounce COVID-19 quarantines as some twisted act of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Rather, as BuzzFeed News and CNN Business have reported, Glassman told affiliate gym owners during a conference call last weekend, “We’re not mourning for George Floyd — I don’t think me [sic] or any of my staff are. […] Can you tell me why I should mourn for him? Other than that it’s the ‘white’ thing to do?” Glassman then went on to espouse multiple unproven (and in some cases, demonstrably false) conspiracy theories surrounding George Floyd’s murder, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m not. Well before Glassman ignited this racist controversy, CrossFit had been denying transgender athletes the chance to compete at the CrossFit Games (yes, there are actually CrossFit competitions) until trans* athlete Chloie Johnson’s lawsuit against the company finally compelled CrossFit to adopt trans*-inclusive policies for the 2019 CrossFit Games.
Getting back into systemic racism, Glassman claimed it doesn’t exist during that conference call last weekend. And yet, over the years multiple reports had surfaced on long-standing racial disparities throughout the CrossFit universe. Then CrossFit Games Director Dave Castro refused to even answer a question on diversity and inclusion during a press conference last year. Dave Castro just became CrossFit’s new CEO following Greg Glassman’s sudden announcement of his retirement on Tuesday.
And finally, an update on the never-ending hydroxychloroquine melodrama
You may have seen some stories on President Donald Trump’s favorite “game changing miracle cure” in the last week. Here’s the deal on the hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) saga: The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine had to retract earlier study reports that suggested HCQ may be lethal for some COVID-19 patients, as those studies relied on data from a company called Surgisphere, and The Guardian has pointed out faults in that data that Surgisphere still hasn’t really answered for.
So does this mean Trump was right and we were wrong all along? No. What this does mean is that we all need to rely on sound science and verifiable data rather than cheap rhetoric and campaign talking points. Even when we set aside the faulty Surgisphere data, the more legitimate studies on HCQ (including three new studies released this month) still strongly suggest that it’s no “game changer” and that hydroxychloroquine probably does not prevent, treat, and/or cure COVID-19.
— David Gorski, MD, PhD (@gorskon) June 9, 2020
Keep this in mind when we see the growing hype surrounding another company, Moderna, that’s promising a fast-tracked coronavirus vaccine… And for that matter, the ongoing hype surrounding Gilead Sciences and its drug Remdesivir. While medical researchers are noticing some positive development in both cases, we’re nowhere near any kind of certainty that a vaccine can safely be released and administered by the end of the year, or that Remdesivir is as a sure-fire of a COVID-19 treatment as Trump still insists HCQ is.
So once more, I’ll leave you with this reminder: With no one “game changing miracle cure”, we absolutely have to stick with what works in containing further spread of COVID-19… And giving scientists time to develop protocols to further limit this disease’s reach, as well as to develop safe and effective medicine to treat, cure, and prevent infections going forward.
If you’re in need of medical treatment, contact your primary health care provider first. If you fear you can’t afford treatment from a hospital or doctor’s office, check with the Southern Nevada Health District, Washoe County Health District, Carson City Health and Human Services, or the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services for resources in your area. For additional aid, check the Nevada Current’s and Battle Born Progress’ resource guides. If you can afford proper treatment and you are fortunate enough to help others in need, please donate to larger operations like Direct Relief and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and to local groups like Three Square.