BOSTON – Natalia Linos a prominent Harvard-trained epidemiologist, social justice advocate, and Executive Director of the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights who recently ran
for Congress in Massachusetts’ 4th District, spoke to The National Herald about the events at the Capitol on January 6, the Presidential elections, as well as her own political future.
Born in Cleveland, OH, Linos graduated from the high school of The American Community Schools (ACS) Athens and went on to pursue her undergraduate degree at Harvard College, where she earned a degree in Social Anthropology. She later returned to Harvard School of Public Health for her postgraduate studies, earning two more degrees, a Master’s in Science and a Doctor of Science (ScD) in Social Epidemiology. She worked for many years at the United Nations, but also as a policy advisor to the Commissioner of Health of the City of New York, where she led the development of many initiatives to address poverty, discrimination, and health. She lives in Brookline, MA with her husband Paul and their three children, Amalia, Leonidas, and Alexandra.
The entire interview has follows:
The National Herald: What are your thoughts on the events of January 6, the invasion of the U.S. Capitol?
Natalia Linos: I join others who have strongly condemned the January 6th violent attacks on Congress, recognizing that any attempt to undermine our Democracy and intimidate our elected officials is an attack on all of us. More recent news suggesting that several Capitol Police officers are under investigation for enabling the rioters, and that individuals storming the Capitol seemed to have detailed information about the layout of the building, raises additional concerns. I hope that we will have answers soon and that all responsible will be prosecuted.
TNH: Would you find it difficult to accept that President Trump himself was the instigator?
NL: Last Wednesday Donald Trump became the first American president to be impeached twice: this time because of his clear role in inciting a violent mob against the government of the United States. I agree with the 232 Representatives, including 10 Republican lawmakers, who voted ‘yes’ on impeachment. It is undeniable that at the rally held on January 6th he repeated the false claim that “this election was stolen” and called on his supporters to march on the Capitol. It is important, however, to stress that this isn’t the first or only time that the president has used language to incite violence. He has used conspiracy theories and lies to spread fear and anxiety. His rhetoric has been especially dangerous because it has provided cover for white-supremacists to organize and has given credibility to their agenda of hate.
TNH: Do you think it could lead to the historic end of the Republican Party?
NL: No. But I do hope that it is a wake-up call for more moderate Republicans, including many Greek-American Republicans, to recognize that there is a segment of the Republic Party that espouses violence and that uses offensive, inflammatory, and hateful rhetoric which is dangerous to us all.
TNH: How do you feel about the election of Mr. Biden?
NL: I am hopeful. As an epidemiologist I am particularly hopeful that President Biden can help us respond better to the ongoing COVID-pandemic. I hope he will restore the United States’ global standing and commitment to the principles of justice, equality, and democracy, so that we set an example of good governance and respect for human rights. As a Greek-American I hope he will facilitate the immediate end of Turkey’s threats against Greece and Cyprus and encourage substantive cooperation with the Greek-American community in all areas.
TNH: Are you worried about possible riots in view of his swearing in?
NL: Yes. I do not believe that what we saw on January 6th was a ‘chance’ occurrence and there will be riots. Unfortunately, the lies that have been spread around the election being ‘stolen’ have taken root. Too many Americans believe that this was not a fair election and, actually, I think that is the most serious damage that President Trump has done. Undermining our election system will have repercussions for years to come. Whether riots turn violent or deadly on January 20 will depend on how prepared law enforcement agencies are, and I am hopeful that they will be more prepared than they were on January 6th.
TNH: Are you thinking of returning to the political arena?
NL: At some point I imagine I will. I have made a commitment to use my skills and expertise to serve the public and believe that politics allows for the most direct way to improve people’s lives through policy and investments in our neighborhoods and communities. At the moment I am lucky to be able to do important work, including on the COVID-19 response, as part of my current role as Executive Director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard. I hope that if I run again the Greek-American community, which was so supportive of me last summer, will also be excited about my candidacy then.