June 18, 2020 at 1pm EST

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The corona virus has had a terrible impact on the planet: hundreds of thousands have died and millions have been infected. Everyday life has been turned upside down through masking, social distancing, and remaining at home. Businesses have been dramatically impacted and lack of faith in established political leaders has in many cases contributed to what had already become a polarized cultural atmosphere. With nerves on edge, and time on people’s hands, sensational videos depicting the brutal murder of George Floyd helped produce the context of massive protests focusing on racial inequality. Even the most sophisticated scientists have been baffled by the disease, and how to cure it. The fear, frustration, and confusion it has caused among everyday people, who lack scientific knowledge of any sort, has grown exponentially as they seek simple explanations.

Conspiracy fits the bill: so, for example, it has been suggested that the cause of Covd-19 is immigrants and 5G cell towers, more than twenty of which have been destroyed by arson in the United Kingdom. In the United States, meanwhile, right-wing populists insist that the disease has been spread by Bill Gates, George Soros, and the “deep state.” Other conspiracy theories focus on the Chinese, or Jews, or Arabs. Extremism is fueled by such ideas and, in conjunction with a dramatic economic downturn as well as new acts of police brutality, protests against racial and social injustice have marked the historical context. Corona, extremism, and protest are thus intertwined—and the International Council for Diplomacy and Dialogue (ICDD) is proposing a one-day symposium that deals directly with the impact of the virus, the politics of its more extreme conspiratorial interpretations of corona, and the new possibilities raised by protests that have become a worldwide phenomenon.

To this end, ICDD has brought together some of its most important representatives to provide new cosmopolitan perspectives and the benefits of their expertise. Lack of knowledge can only intensify mistrust and neurotic fears – and this conference aims to confront the problem.


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