How this began: The virus was here (the US) already for months from 2019 and life went on normally.
Once the consciousness seeped in and the politicians panicked, we moved quickly from travel restrictions to lockdowns to mask mandates to domestic capacity restrictions to vaccine mandates. Somewhere along the way, we learned to classify people by profession, stigmatize the sick, then finally to demonize the noncompliant. It’s been 20 months of intensified controls, driven by political leaders from both parties, with precious little dissent from media organs.
The pace has been furiously fast but somehow just slow enough that people and media personalities adjust to the new, the cycle proceeds, last week’s shock becomes this week’s normal, and then politicians scramble to create the next big intervention, covering previous failures with new nostrums, all while ignoring or censoring opposing views.
Even hard-won scientific knowledge of 100 years – for example natural immunity – has been memory holed. We reference Orwell often because there is a dystopian feel to it all, describable best by reference to stories we only imagined through the help of books and movies. Hunger Games, Matrix, V for Vendetta, Equilibrium – they all come to mind.
The policies have been bad enough but the political polarization has been the real poison. In history, we’ve seen where this leads. New and random mandates from political leaders become loyalty tests. Compliant people are viewed as enlightened and obedient. The noncompliant are regarded as stupid and probably politically threatening. They are purgeable.
In this particular case, the mainstream media has argued for months that noncompliance correlates very closely with Trump support, which everyone knows is a civic sin of the highest order even though he won the presidency 5 years ago. This realization was an invitation to the Biden administration to ramp up its mandates, finding any and every means to get the federal bureaucracies to penetrate the policy walls to the states that exist under the Constitution.
They easily found the agency Occupational Safety and Health Administration, twisted a few words, and like magic discovered a basis on which to override state-based limits on vaccine mandates. It’s using medicine as a means of political punishment.
One tip-off of the political agenda here is that the data associations of the unvaxed by Trump support only work with 50 data points, meaning state boundaries, as Justin Hart has pointed out. Expand that out by county-level data with 3,000-plus data points and the correlation almost entirely disappears. Further, if you look at vaccination by race and income, you find very low compliance among voters usually associated with Democratic support. So the war on the “red states” being waged by the federal government today is really just about consolidating political support, state by state.
Regardless, the effects of the mandates are real and devastating for millions of people. People are losing their jobs because they are unwilling to go along. And all of this occurs in the midst of a chronic labor shortage: bosses are being told by the government to dismiss people from their jobs just when their companies are struggling for resources.
There are many reasons to refuse these mandates. The people with previous infections know that they have better immunities than they could get with a vaccine, and they want that to count even as the CDC refuses. This is particularly true of health care workers.
Others prefer the risk of Covid to the risks (and they exist) of the vaccine side effects. Others simply resist the demand that they pump their bodies with a medicine developed with tax dollars for which the private companies bear no liability at all. It feels like an invasion of the body that should never be tolerated by a free people. Some people still imagine themselves to be free to choose.
Their punishment for this is to lose their jobs.
The biggest impact will most immediately be felt in the state of New York. The governor – a new person named Kathleen Courtney Hochul to replace the previous bad guy – is all behind the Biden order. In particular, she is imposing this on health-care workers. As many as 70,000 people will lose their jobs as health-care workers even as hospitals are complaining about staffing shortages.
She has issued an executive order that contemplates forcing people who are enlisted in the National Guard to be deployed as scabs to replace the people who will be fired from their jobs. It’s hard to imagine how all of this will work. It comes very close to being a form of conscription in the health sector, replacing a voluntary system with a compulsory system. It’s not going to work out well for the patient.
The most shocking aspect of this is that it targets the very workers who put themselves on the line in the early days of the panic. The world cheered in the spring of 2020. New Yorkers stood outside their windows and sang songs as the staffing shifts took place. They banged pans in appreciation. Here were all kinds of nurses, technicians, and doctors who put themselves in harm’s way at a time when people were unsure of the risk profile of the disease itself.
And they gained natural immunity through exposure. They know what that means because they are all trained in virology. They know that nothing beats acquired immunity via exposure. Especially with a coronavirus with a changing profile, a vaccine cannot compare. That is precisely what 100% of the studies have shown since that time. And yet here we have governments imposing the shot on people who took the risk, gained the immunities, and now refuse to take another and potentially more deadly risk from the vaccine that operates not like vaccines of old.
A correspondent writes as follows: “My wife is a triple board certified doctor in the Bronx. She worked at the hospital that had the highest Covid death rate in all of NYC. She went down hard w/Covid in April 2020 and missed two months of work. She recovered and went back. For 15 years she served the poor – underprivileged patients on welfare in the Bronx – none of them had private insurance. She resigned on Friday and I could not be more proud of her. She is not bowing to this tyranny. She tested her antibodies several times and they remain high. Please keep up this fight. Many many nurses took the vax against their will because they could not afford to miss a paycheck. These mandates must fail.”
As if things could not get more preposterous and terrifying, Governor Hochul channelled God himself to say that this vaccine is not only a healing sacramental but also morally obligatory for any true believer, a line to demarcate saints and sinners.
This is no longer about scientific confusion. This is starting to look like an old-fashioned political purge, whether justified by fake science or theology. It is happening at many levels of society. In Massachusetts, dozens of state troopers are resigning.
Health care workers in North Carolina are resigning. It’s happening in Nebraska, California, and many other areas of the country, and hospitals and many other industries are worried. Even Navy Seals are being told that they won’t be deployed if they don’t get the jab.
It is not lost on the Biden administration – this tactic seems to have been hatched in the summer – that this is harming their political enemies, not exclusively but predominantly. Apparently, no one really cares.
In academia, the problems are heating up. Todd Zywicki of George Mason University School of Law sued over the mandate – he proved that he had natural immunity – and won an individual concession from the school but the policy remained unchanged. He is just one person but there are thousands of others, most of whom are quiet about their plight. They don’t have lawyers. They are considering just giving in. They wonder what the point of resistance really is.
Among them are serious scientists who wake up daily wondering why we live in a world in which the denial of science has become required doctrine, and why they are being forced to choose between their principles and their income and profession. It’s a grim time, one we never imagined we would face in the modern world much less the US.
The party in power wants to remain in power forever, which is a story as old as time. The virus is the excuse of the day. The trouble is that they have been wrong in so many ways with so many victims that the whole scenario is unspeakable. We’ve been here before and the ultimate solution comes down to a choice between two paths for the ruling regime: admit the wrongdoing or purge those who believe things they should not.
It would appear that the latter position is the prevailing one. The vaccine mandate has become the tool of choice. Submit or see your job melt away. This is where we are today. And remember: we are not talking about smallpox. Nor are we talking about private companies exercising discretion. We are dealing here with a virus with a 99.8% survival rate and a vaccine that was oversold and has so far underdelivered.
Where is the human conscience in all of this? Does it even exist among the ruling class machine? What happened to the old and settled concern for civil liberties, scientific inquiry and truth, minority rights, and bodily integrity?
The political purge of institutions is part of a larger drive for purity in our society. Some have called it the new Puritanism. The moniker fits. It’s all about separating the clean from the unclean, defined by whatever the priority of the moment happens to be (biological, moral, political). What began as a push for a pathogen-free nation moved to become the stigmatization of the sick and then a push for universal vaccination, even though none of it makes sense: the jab does not protect well against either infection or spread.
The symbolic act of medicinal compliance easily becomes a physical sign of political compliance: the ID card. That then becomes the basis of the reductio ad absurdum, the political purge – an intensification of the mask mandate to become a needle mandate as a means of ferreting out dissidents.
Thus does this mandate fulfill the illiberalism of our current moment in civic life, and serve only to consolidate political power in the end. Pure is never pure enough, which is why Biden now says he demands 98% vaccination rates and even small children at near-zero risk are being roped in. All of this will be as ineffective in achieving its aims as the rest of the virus control strategies.
Over time, it only fuels public anger and builds a resistance force, and gives rise to new institutions determined to preserve and practice the precious right of human freedom.
On an institutional note: the Brownstone Institute, though newly founded, suddenly finds itself with a moral obligation that extends far beyond its existing financial resources. We can explain more at a later time. But the situation is serious and real. We need your support. If you want more information, you can write to me privately.
This article was originally published by The Brownstone Institute and was reprinted with the author's permission.