In mid-July 2020, various iterations of the quote “I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about other people” circulated, but all were attributed to Dr. Anthony Fauci:
When Fauci said: “I Don't Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People.”
— jeneane 😷 WEAR A MASK (@jeneane) July 11, 2020
Image versions of the quote also spread in comment sections and Facebook threads:
It’s not clear how the quote was initially linked to Fauci on social media, and it primarily spread in typed-out tweets or as rendered in the image above. But if it looked familiar, that is because it was the headline of a widely-shared June 2017 Huffington Post editorial:
I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People
Our disagreement is not merely political, but a fundamental divide on what it means to live in a society.
Like many Americans, I’m having politics fatigue. Or, to be more specific, arguing-about-politics fatigue.
I haven’t run out of salient points or evidence for my political perspective, but there is a particular stumbling block I keep running into when trying to reach across the proverbial aisle and have those “difficult conversations” so smugly suggested by think piece after think piece:
I don’t know how to explain to someone why they should care about other people.
However, even the June 2017 editorial above wasn’t the quote’s first — or final — form. In January 2017, author Lauren Morrill tweeted the phrase in the context of debate over the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare):
My biggest problem in these ACA debates? I don't know how to explain to you why you should care about other people.
— Lauren Morrill 🍕❤️ (@LaurenEMorrill) January 13, 2017
It seemed the version attributed to Fauci was circulating as of July 8 2020, when Morrill lamented that more people had shared inaccurate attributions of the quote than had read her work:
More people have shared this quote unattributed than have read all my books combined. https://t.co/5Z7ilzLUb1
— Lauren Morrill 🍕❤️ (@LaurenEMorrill) July 8, 2020
We were unable to locate any iterations of Fauci saying “I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about other people,” but even if Fauci repeated the quote, it did not originate with him. In January 2017, Lauren Morrill tweeted the quote. In June of that year, it was used as the title for an editorial in the Huffington Post by a separate author — and came at least three years before the COVID-19 pandemic.