Rioters and anti-vaxxers


As I listened to the testimony Tuesday of Capitol and Washington D.C. police officers who were attacked by the violent mob in Washington on Jan. 6, I wondered how many of the terrorists bothered to get their coronavirus vaccines. Guessing wildly, I’m going to say: Not many.

I couldn’t help thinking it because there’s an overlap between anti-vaxxers and the rioters. Both were and are guided by disinformation intentionally distributed to pit Americans against one another — by forces internal or external, or both. We used to call that propaganda. Now, too often, we call it politics.

Both the rioters and the anti-vaxxers believe what is demonstrably wrong to the detriment of others. The rioters believed that the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald Trump. The anti-vaccine crowd embraced Trump’s initially blase attitude toward the virus, despite his having been vaccinated since, and despite massive evidence supporting the efficacy of the vaccines, which, until recently, were close to putting the virus to bed.

You recognize the common denominator.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that anti-vaccine people are prone to riot or that they’d even condone what happened on Jan. 6. I know a few such people, and they flatly would not. Anecdotally, however, I can say that everyone I know who refuses to get a coronavirus vaccine also voted for Trump, even if most people I know who voted for Trump raced to get their vaccines. And, though my unvaccinated acquaintances would never raise their voices much less a fist, they might not mind too much that others took to the barricades and took back the election.

This is because they really do believe that someone (the deep state, Anthony S. Fauci, Nancy Pelosi, Charles E. Schumer, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, take your pick) is trying to pull the wool over their eyes. First it was the masks, then the vaccines, — two innovations which they believe were conceived to test the willingness of the populace to form a line and board the train. Of course, they stole the election! They had to, right?

I wish I were kidding. In the South, where I now live, you’ll hear plenty of this nonsense. Therefore, if one wishes to change minds, it becomes necessary to take seriously that which is nonsense. To wit: The deep state is trying to overtake the country, “vaccinate” its citizens to make them obedient with the goal of “herding” them into camps, cubicles (or whatever) to be controlled for government use (or whatever).

If all this is true, then you’d have no choice but to decline the vaccine and resort to whatever measure necessary to preserve “freedom.”

Pointing out to anti-vaxxers that they’re as wrongheaded — and possibly as dangerous — as the rioters would surely meet with ridicule. They’re not violent, after all. But they are something — the passive twin to the rioters’ aggression. Both operate from a posture of certitude; both threaten the health and welfare of the nation.

One was sudden, relatively short-lived and will be handled through a legal process that seems to be well underway. The other — the one that refuses to take part in creating herd immunity essential to controlling the coronavirus — is slower and, ultimately, more cruel.

I’m not blind to the troubles I may be causing with this assessment, but I’m weary of playing nice with people who are plain wrong and causing 300 million Americans, give or take, to suffer. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is saying that even the fully vaccinated should wear masks indoors under certain circumstances, including K-12 schools. Why? Because covid cases are taking off again, hospitals are filling up and people are dying. Former CDC director Tom Frieden said Monday that we soon could be seeing as many as 200,000 covid cases a day. And nearly all of those getting sick are unvaccinated, according to an Associated Press analysis of public health data.

To put it bluntly, the 25% to 30% of Americans refusing to get the vaccine are putting their own lives at risk, threatening our doctors’ and nurses’ ability to take care of other sick folks, and by mixing among vaccinated people, possibly causing even more infections. This news has me entertaining uncivil thoughts that probably violate the Constitution: I’m no longer against making people prove that they’ve been vaccinated before entering public places. But even in my darkest fantasies, I would never grab a Confederate battle flag and breach the Capitol to ensure that I get my way.

The good news is that the bad guys of Jan. 6 ultimately will be brought to justice.

But the “bad guys” of the vaccine resistance, assuming they survive, likely will get away no matter how many others they infect.

This seems to me most unfair and a very bad business, which is a polite way of saying, and the horse they rode in on.

Kathleen Parker’s email address is [email protected]

By Paul Wager