The end of COVID emergencies means collapse for anti-vaxxers

The end of COVID emergencies means collapse for anti-vaxxers

It’s one thing to know intellectually that anti-vaccine fanatics are completely detached from reality, but it’s another thing to be bombarded with their delusions in a very personal way.

“Fortunately” for me, such an opportunity was inflicted on me quite recently, where else? – On twitter. For no apparent reason, a couple of weeks ago my responses began to be filled with “you?” Traditionally, “is this you?” receipts are all about digging up some previous public statement that the target is expected to be embarrassed about. For example, if a right-winger becomes violently ill with COVID-19, he risks being hit with “is this you?” reminders of the times when disease was dismissed as a hoax.

But what these people kept tweeting, clearly believing I would be embarrassed, was not embarrassing at all: an opinion column I wrote in August 2021 titled, “It’s okay to blame the unvaccinated: they’re robbing the rest of us of our freedoms.” None of my troublemakers could explain why, exactly, I should feel bad about this. A couple of medical details are out of date, but overall, it’s still a strong argument. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that the people tweeting vitriol at me were anti-vaxxers. Worse yet, they are people who are so caught up in their bubble of misinformation that they have convinced themselves that it is self-evident that being pro-vaccines in 2021 would cause a person great remorse in 2023.

I had a front row seat to watch the ongoing collapse of a group of people who built their entire identities around the pandemic.

Never is fun being stacked on Twitter, but this was one of the more intriguing versions of the experience.

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There was a fascinating pathos about these people, because of their conviction that their anti-vaccine views have been vindicated, but also because of their despair. They were so hungry for relevance that they resorted to pretending to be victimized by a headline from two years ago. (The analytical data showed that few bothered to read the essay.) During the couple of days that I was bombarded with tweets, I had a front row seat to the growing collapse of a group of people who have built their entire identities around the pandemic. . Without the culture war around COVID-19 to give meaning to their lives, they are losing their already shaky grasp on reality.

It helps explain why Republican politicians are still obsessed with COVID-19.

In their pre-primary slap fight, Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have grown consumed with an argument over who downplayed the virus the most, with DeSantis even goes as far as to shore up a bogus “investigation” of vaccines. Meanwhile, new president Kevin McCarthy says House Republicans plan more bogus “investigations” of the response to the pandemic, spearheaded by prominent conspiracy theorists like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who regularly pushes anti-vaccination lies.

Re-litigating the COVID-19 culture wars seems like an odd choice, politically, since this is all news for most of the country. Sure, there’s a debate about whether it’s still a “pandemic” in some scientific sense, but in a sociocultural sense, the emergency is over. Mask and social distancing mandates are gone and unlikely to return, and fears of another winter attack have not manifested. He The White House is finalizing the pandemic emergency declaration. For most people, life returns to being relatively normal. In politics, it is generally considered unwise to waste energy fighting past battles.

It all makes sense, though, when you realize that a large part of the GOP base, the kind of people who donate to campaigns and vote in primaries, have built their entire identities around COVID denial. -19.

For two full years, the pandemic was the top story in the country, and for many on the right, denying medical science became an obsession. Directed by Trump’s simplistic dismissals of the dangers of the virus as a “hoax” conservatives erected a whole mythology about how they were underdog heroes for resisting public health measures. They threw tantrums over the closures. They had mask attacks. They refused to be vaccinated. Resisting the COVID-19 precautions became, for many of them, the center of who they are. And once something becomes central to your identity, it’s hard to let go. Ask anyone who has left a church or a profession or even a beloved hobby. Without “Christian” or “accountant” or “D&D enthusiast” as a rock to anchor a sense of self, a person can often feel adrift. For those who have made being “anti-vaccination” a lynchpin in how they see themselves, the fact that few people care more must be disheartening.

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Made worse by the fact that conservatives always need some BS story about how they are the “real” victims to justify espousing a political ideology that is all about oppressing others. This is why the right-wing media is a constant stream of lies about how white people are the “real” victims of racism, that feminism has gone “too far,” or that LGBTQ rights are somehow a threat to families. conservative. Anti-vaccination ideology accommodates this desire of the right to play the victim, giving them the opportunity to pretend to be persecuted for vaccination mandates.

For those who have made being “anti-vaccination” a lynchpin in how they see themselves, the fact that few people care more must be disheartening.

Unfortunately, the fake cries of oppression, along with Republican dominance of the federal courts, were all too successful. Vaccination mandates have all but disappeared. For the Republican looking for opportunities for self-pity, the “bias” against the unvaccinated is non-existent. It’s hard to be a victim of bigotry when no one cares enough to discriminate against you. This is why efforts to reignite the Covid culture wars are becoming increasingly baroque. The Tories have tried to grab anything in a feeble attempt to get people back to discussing the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, these efforts have been extremely vapid, mostly in the form of exploiting the health problems of strangers by blaming the vaccine.

A flood of right-wing media personalities, including popular Fox News personality Tucker Carlson, tried to blame the vaccine on Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills having a heart attack. Perhaps even more worrisome, the obituary for anyone under the age of 80 seems Like it’s fair game for right-wing zanies who act like strokes, aneurysms, and accidents never happened before the covid vaccine. In a particularly shady part of scam, Seda by the Trump duo “Diamante y Seda” was to the point of implying that Diamond’s recent death was caused by the vaccine. (The death certificate lists the cause as heart disease..)

Watching conservatives try to keep a zombie culture war alive would be hilarious if there were no real-world consequences. But now that being anti-vaccination is one of the stations of the Republican cross, there are serious implications for public health. He rates of people receiving COVID-19 boosters, for example, have been declining, leading to otherwise preventable deaths. There is no doubt that many of the reasons are procrastination and pandemic fatigue, but there is also reason to believe that many people, not just right-wingers, are justifying skipping the shot because they saw an anti-vaxx “suddenly dead” meme on Facebook. . To make matters worse, anti-vaccine ideology is starting to spread beyond Covid. ohio is currently enduring a horrible outbreak of measles among the childrenbecause the newly radicalized anti-vaxxers don’t get the vaccine for their children.

Ultimately, I’m fascinated by what it tells us about politics and identity, to see so many right-wingers clinging to vaccine hysteria long after most Americans are over the pandemic. The escalation of Republican bigotry and the culture wars fueled by social media mean that many silly ideas that would once have been held lightly on the right are being incorporated into their very being. Once an idea stops being what a person thinks and becomes part of what is, it’s exponentially harder for them to get a sense of rationality or proportion about it. In that sense, being anti-vaxxers is no longer just a passing notion, but has morphed into something closer to a religion.

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