Melissa Martin is a very good writer working for the Winnipeg Free Press. Talking about Covid-19 and the antivaxxers and anti-mandaters, she said she found “Sadness amid the Madness.” Why was that?
Specifically, she wrote an interesting piece about a man and woman with a child at one of the innumerable Covid-19 protest rallies in Winnipeg, who held a sign that read, “It’s my choice. Live with it. I will.” These people had gone to the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, thinking there was protest rally there. One had been held there a few days earlier and the protesters disrupted health services. Some health workers were afraid to go to work to help others in desperate need. Not just Covid-19 patients either. Not really the best place for a protest rally. So, organizers, sensing a lack of public support for a rally there, changed the location at the last minute and this man and his wife and young daughter were not aware of it. They were wandering around largely by themselves. Martin said it was sad. She also said, “Anti-vax protests point out a tragic societal fracture that seems beyond mending.”
I think she is right because this is no longer a health issue. It has probably never been a health issue. It is a political issue. In fact, it is a theological issue. People hold anti-vax and anti-mandate views as they hold religious views. They are held so tightly that no evidence and no reason can change minds anymore. Just like religion.
The family seemed lost and deflated. As Martin said,
“Imagine what led you there. Imagine what vicious rhetoric you’ve consumed that would allow you to see a hospital entrance as an appropriate place to make your stand. Imagine waking up that day ready to protest outside a hospital, only to find your family arriving alone, sign dangling from your hands.”
Martin also saw, what I have been seeing—the same type of people appear at anti-vax rallies as showed up at pro-Trump rallies and worse, at places like the riot on Capitol Hill in Washington on January 6, 2021. The people at the hospital rally, or the Winkler rally or the Steinbach rally, were not rioters, but they appeared angry. After all, as Pankaj Mishra said, “this is the age of anger.” People are angry. When they get angry they get mean and nasty. And thoughtfulness flies out the window. Lately, we have seen this in Winkler and Steinbach as I blogged about earlier.
As Martin said,
“It could have been worse. A lot worse. Since the start of the pandemic, one of the animating factors in resistance to public health orders and, now, vaccines has been rage, the same combustible rage that drove far-right protesters to storm the U.S. Capitol in January. It’s driven by many of the same players. It shares the same characteristics.
On Twitter, one woman responded to a video of an Ontarian People’s Party of Canada candidate firing a rifle, and said the candidate should “bring that bad boy to tomorrow’s raid on Toronto General Hospital,” because protesters would “get inside and show the world that COVID is fake.”
They didn’t go into the hospital. Yet while one shouldn’t put too much stock in the hot air a random person spews on Twitter, the naked aggression is alarming, and the threat has precedent. Last year, self-appointed “truth seekers” entered hospitals to “prove” the virus was a hoax; it’s entirely possible it will happen again.”
People are so angry that they feel it is legitimate to try to intimidate our over-worked health care workers who have not done anything to impose the mandates on them. They are just ordinary health care workers doing their heroic work to save lives during a pandemic. Anger directed at them is frankly much worse than sad. It is not surprising that some of them revolt. One frustrated hospital worker in a Calgary hospital put up a sign in a window that read, “Go intubate yourself.”
These protesters don’t believe science which they think is a hoax. Yet they believe government officials are trying to impose health mandates to control us. again I have heard this personally. Others think doctors are hiding real cures like horse de-wormers. Yet as Martin said,
“When the numbers show that hospitals are in crisis and vaccines are both safe and effective, they are dismissed as “manipulated.” Everyone on Facebook anti-vaccine groups knows a guy who knows a guy whose cousin is a nurse and swears ICUs are empty; when ICU nurses speak about what they’ve endured, that information is disregarded.”
I know this too as I have been told the same thing. Martin acknowledged that there are reasonable questions about Covid-19. One of my cousins last week told me there is evidence that people who are vaccinated can spread Covid-19 as easily as those who are not vaccinated. If that is true it blows a major hole in the case against mandatory vaccinations. More on that later. There is room for reasonable discussion. Science is not crystal clear. People are suffering from the restrictions in business and in mental health. But it is very difficult to have reasonable discussions when people harass health care workers. Or shout absurdities.
Martin summed up the problem this way:
“The problem is, none of those concerns can be given a fair hearing, when the loudest voices in opposition are tied up in threatening health-care workers, propagating conspiracy theories and potentially deadly misinformation, and thunderously insisting that the only relevant consideration is “personal choice.”
That’s the thing about a pandemic. It puts light on the error in the main ideological streak underpinning these most aggressive protests: the idea that anyone lives as an island, our choices not affecting others. A pandemic is a virus infecting society as one body; it requires the co-ordinated response of the whole body to fix it.
“It’s my choice,” the man’s sign said. “Live with it.” That’s exactly the problem: we already are. What’s sad is, he cannot see it.”
As I have been saying, Goya is right, “the sleep of reason brings forth monsters.” And we have to fight them.