Thursday, May 21, 2020


In The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker reports on the opposition to a future COVID-19 vaccine:
Some of the same online activists who have clamored to resume economic activity, echoing President Trump’s call to “liberate” their states from sweeping restrictions, are now aligning themselves with a cause on the political fringe — preemptively forswearing a vaccine. To further their baseless claims about the dangers of vaccines and to portray the scientific process as reckless, they have seized on the brisk pace promised for the project, which the Trump administration has branded “Operation Warp Speed.”
But, naturally, they don't think Trump is the real villain.
One participant in a 2,000-member reopening group on Facebook suggested Trump was “pandering to the left” by speeding a vaccine to market....

“I would take Trump’s hydroxychloroquine ... before I would be vaccinated by the left’s new covid-19 vaccine!” read a meme posted Tuesday in a pro-Trump Facebook group with more than 82,000 members.
I know that there are anti-vaxxers who regard themselves as liberals or moderates, but I wonder it's only a matter of time before vaccine skepticism becomes an essential part of being a right-winger in good standing.

We're not there yet, but Tucker Carlson hosted a segment last night that had a little something for both skeptics and believers.
Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz joined "Tucker Carlson Tonight" Wednesday to discuss the constitutionality of forcing members of the public to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, should a vaccine become available.

Host Tucker Carlson began the segment by acknowledging the argument that people "don't have a right to endanger other people, your right to punch ends at the tip of my nose" before asking Dershowitz whether "the government has a right to endanger" people who may have an adverse reaction to a vaccine by forcing them to take it.

"The Supreme Court has said yes, and if the case came to the Supreme Court today, they would say yes, it would either be 9-0 or 8-1," Dershowitz responded. "It is not a debatable issue constitutionally. Look, they have a right to draft you and put your life in danger to help the country. The police power of the state is very considerable."

Dershowitz added that he agrees with the "moral argument" that no one should be subject to vaccine that has not been fully vetted on the chance it could help other people and noted that he wouldn't want people to submit to a vaccine unless it is proven safe.

"If the vaccine is extremely safe, then the state does have the right to tell you to take it," he said....

"I don't believe you have a right to be Typhoid Mary and spread it."
Here's the segment:

If you watch it, you'll see that both Carlson and Dershowitz acknowledge the value of vaccines. But they also linger on the notion that vaccines can be risky, and that mandating a vaccine is government power at its most heavy-handed. The segment is punctuated by scaremongering chyrons such as DERSHOWITZ: THE STATE HAS THE POWER TO LITERALLY PLUNGE A NEEDLE INTO YOUR ARM. Carlson, summarizing Dershowitz's opinion, says: "If the government wants to, the government has the the right to seize you and inject the vaccine by force." Carlson grants that he'd be fine with an eventual coronavirus vaccine that "proved to be very safe," but he insists that "there is so much lying about vaccines, probably on all sides, but there certainly is lying about vaccines, because public health authorities don't want people -- you know, they want the people to take them. And I get it. But people are nervous."

Carlson knows which way his audience is heading on this subject. He's not all the way to skepticism yet, and maybe he'll never get there. But will he? Could conservative media and crazies on Facebook pull the right all the way to full-on vaccine denialism?

Unlike climate denialism, anti-vaxx sentiment doesn't line rich people's pockets. There's no equivalent of the fossil fuel industry to push the right over the edge on this question.

But maybe Russian propaganda operations are acting as force multipliers for the anti-vaxxers. Or maybe anti-vaxx sentiment will just continue to spread as a byproduct of the Reopen movement, which expanded because of the efforts of the plutocracy (and will need to continue when there are now COVID-19 outbreaks).

Think of the Reopen protests as an animal market, and think of increased vaccine skepticism as a virus that the rich Reopen backers didn't know was present in the market stalls.

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