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Being anti-vax is really about being anti-fear

By Matthew Delaney 

Our ruling class is shielded enough to endure criticism and mockery with ease. But the one thing they can’t stand is being ignored. The moment you start to dismiss their “guidance,” they reveal themselves to be the insecure, vengeful people that they are. Nothing illustrates that better than the threatening tone they’ve taken in their Covid-19 vaccine campaign and the fear they hope to generate with it. 

The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out and said that the Delta variant’s spread among the unvaccinated is so bad that everyone needs to wear masks again. Plenty of places like Los Angeles County and Washington, D.C. are restarting their mandates in one form or another. 

It’s hard not to look at this any other way than vaccinated people are being punished for the actions of the unvaccinated. It’s like how a coach will catch one kid dicking around at practice and make the whole team run sprints for it.  

This country isn’t some high school sports program though; it’s a place where different people hold different views on a bunch of different topics. Trying to turn the public health effort into another identity politics cage match won’t help — just look at all the good that’s done with race relations.  

We know this, so you’re probably wondering what makes Joe Biden’s administration and public health authorities think it will work. Look back at how Biden got elected to find the answer. 

He barely campaigned, made racially divisive remarks, and suffered through a #MeToo scandal, all the while having the bone density of a clothes hanger. And he won 85 million votes, more than any president in our history. Who wouldn’t have an outsized view of their influence after such a victory? 

But his main pitch on the trail was that he was going to “shut down the virus.” It makes the significant miss of his July 4th vaccination target that much more painful psychologically. 

You commoners blowing off the genuine altruism of this vaccination effort has sent them over the edge. It’s time to revert to their old playbook and divide us into warring factions. That’s what delivered a historic electoral win, after all. 

Early returns are promising thanks to some reliable media muscle. 

NBC News reported on vaccinated people saying they’re “getting to the place where I’m angry” at unvaccinated people, since they are “utterly selfish” and “self-centered.”  

The Atlantic blames pro-Trump, evangelical conservatives. The Washington Post shat on individual freedom. Sportswriter Molly Knight said that the unvaccinated’s “‘personal choice’ is hurting everyone else.” Politico got a hold of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to say “it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks” for the disease’s continued spread. 

No one in the media is arguing that unvaccinated people are allowed to live by their own risk analysis, nor that a solid chunk doing that are black and Latino Americans. Nor are they questioning whether vaccinated people should be more upset with the vaccine than other people if they still get Covid. They’re just aiming the scope at their favorite targets.  

Journalists are also doing the heavy lifting when it comes to creating vaccine mandates.  

PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor asked Biden whether he wanted to see schools and businesses mandate vaccines. He said he’d “like to see it go in that direction.” Google and Washington Post are already requiring vaccines for their employees. The V.A. issued a vaccine mandate for its healthcare workers.  

The founder of Shake Shack said he wants his New York City based establishments to begin asking customers about their vaccination status whenever they come in. (That doesn’t include Shake Shack, just FYI). Mayor Bill de Blasio gave his full-throated support for the move.    

A new set of rules are being implemented overnight “organically,” and they’re sparing the federal government from appearing authoritarian. All because you simpletons weren’t listening to them.  

It’s an extortion that demands you either 1). fear the virus, or 2). fear what will come from not respecting it.  

That’s how we know it’s not actually about Covid. It’s about taking their authority seriously. The past 17 months have revealed how truly broken our institutions and leaders are. To maintain their legitimacy, they need to break us and keep us dependent on them. 

Cue the nauseating hysteria we’ve come to associate with this pandemic.  

The dangers of asymptomatic spread (that they never try to quantify), social gatherings (except Black Lives Matter protests), and endless lockdowns (unless they have a dinner or family vacation to catch) have made us jumpy about any cause for concern relating to the virus. Our power players likely believe the release of their newest hysteria will cow us back into line.  

Internal CDC documents describe the Delta variant to be as contagious as chickenpox — which is passed to 9 out of every 10 people who come into contact with it. That’s why fully vaccinated people can transmit the virus just as easily as an unvaccinated person and universal masking is advised, according to the document. 

The document even mentions the prevalence of “breakthrough” infections, or infections that can surpass the vaccine. The Post’s reporting notes how common this is by citing that 75% of new infections in Singapore are in people either somewhat or fully vaccinated. 

One of the first slides in the CDC document laments how the “Public [is] convinced vaccines no longer work.” Having statements like this precede an entire document that sets out to negate the effects of vaccination shouldn’t make you wonder why people aren’t getting their shots. 

Our culture aids this nagging sense of fear. Back in 2016, Time magazine reported on how people are more fearful than they’ve ever been, despite living in one of the safest times in human history.  

Things like shark attacks, violent crime, and terrorism had unrealistic levels of fear. As one source was quoted saying “Currently, fear has become in some ways slightly fashionable, so maybe people are even exaggerating a little bit.” 

I should point out: this was pre-Donald Trump’s election. Like way before he became prospective Republican nominee Trump. After four years of fear-porn-treated-as-genuine-concern during his presidency, we think being frightened is our natural state. There’s little surprise that our authority figures feel we need our hands held extra tight throughout this never-ending crisis.    

That’s why there’s a level of admiration for the unvaccinated. You can think they’re stupid or irresponsible or wrongheaded for their holdout. I personally trust the science behind the vaccine. But getting the vaccine acknowledges that there’s something to be terrified about in the first place — a premise that sound minds on both ends of the political spectrum rarely address.  

Michael Brennan Dougherty explained it best when he said, “For [vaccine holdouts], excessive fear of COVID is the primary cause of public-health restrictions, and their refusal to take the vaccine is, in some small way, an attempt to model a life unruled by this fear.” 

Avoiding the vaccine is rebelling against the ruling class’s abuse of our trust. The latest indirect order for businesses, employers, and your fellow man to start hounding each other over their vaccine status is their attempt to break the unvaccinated by, essentially, locking them out of polite society.  

A fear of ostracism is expected to achieve this administration’s political goal. I’d venture to say that the holdouts are too busy living their lives to notice that’s even going on.

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Matthew Delaney


Matthew Delaney is a local journalist based in Washington, D.C. When he’s not questioning why he joined the media, he’s doing his part to restore some of its credibility with quality work

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