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... and the facile descent into hatred
Alex Gutentag has (yet another) excellent piece in Tablet Magazine , wherein he describes how many people (and especially those in “authority”) attempted to marginalize, denigrate, and scapegoat those who chose not to take the (full series of) COVID vaccines.
I myself saw this at play in my community, where people, who were ordinarily nice, friendly, and productive citizens, had no trouble sinking into downright nastiness at the insolence of the “unvaccinated” among them. In great numbers, they supported stripping these unwashed of their education, jobs, medical care, and travel rights without any serious evaluation of the underlying science or moral implications.
The common denominators were:
Fear - stoked by their panicked friends, politicians, and international press.
Authority - people in “authority” making strong, unambiguous, but ultimately unsupported, statements stoking the fear.
I have absolutely no doubt that this can and will happen again, and I similarly have no doubt that the potential damage to society could have been much greater. Book smarts and Holocaust education programs did nothing to stop the many otherwise friendly and intelligent thugs in the community from enthusiastically enforcing Draconian policies.
The only thing that could help mitigate such behavior is mass development of character: the ability to think independently, measure statements against evidence, and stand up to the mob when appropriate.
Here are some quotes from the article:
'The New York Times ran pieces like “I’m Furious at the Unvaccinated,” and “Unvaxxed, Unmasked and Putting Our Kids at Risk.” The Los Angeles Times published a column titled “Mocking anti-vaxxers’ COVID deaths is ghoulish, yes—but may be necessary.” An opinion piece called “The Unvaccinated Are a Risk to All of Us” appeared in Bloomberg, and The Washington Post printed a piece called “Macron is right: It’s time to make life a living hell for anti-vaxxers.”’
‘Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said unvaccinated people “are very often misogynistic and racist,” and asked, “Do we tolerate these people?” President Joe Biden said that his “patience [was] wearing thin” and that we needed to “protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated coworkers.” Michael Gunner, chief minister of the Northern Territory in Australia, stated that even if you are vaccinated, “if you are anti-mandate, you are absolutely anti-vax.” French President Emmanuel Macron declared that 5 million French people who remained unvaccinated were “not citizens.”’
‘Vaccine mandates were mainly rationalized through the belief that the higher the rate of vaccination, the less the virus would spread…. But recently, on Oct. 10, 2022, a Pfizer spokesperson told the European Parliament that the vaccines had never actually been tested for preventing transmission.’
‘Simply put, the reason many people believed the vaccines stopped transmission was because government officials and media outlets across the Western world were either careless with their words or did not tell the truth.’
 Alex Gutentag, Vaccines Never Prevented the Transmission of COVID, Tablet Magazine 10/18/2022: https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/science/articles/vaccines-never-prevented-transmission-covid-alex-gutentag
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