Dr. Anthony Fauci and self-styled “philanthropist” Bill Gates and their allies are using the COVID pandemic to bring humanity under global totalitarian rule, and they must be stopped, says Children’s Health Defense chief Robert F. Kennedy Jr.https://t.co/WLNqXkO1gM pic.twitter.com/hEkGlOZUOj
— John Birch Society (@The_JBS) November 24, 2021
Meanwhile, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the conspiracy-mongering and Islamophobic Republican from Georgia, has tweeted about the “common ground” she finds with the Nation of Islam, specifically noting how the organization opposes the Covid-19 vaccine. Initially surprising, this odd connection makes a lot of sense. Greene’s style of xenophobic and conspiratorial politics is an outgrowth of the tea party movement, whichdeveloped a symbiotic relationship with the anti-vaccine movement in the 2010s. Similarly, the Nation of Islam’s opposition to the Covid-19 vaccine is an outgrowth of its anti-vaccine alliance with Kennedy. Conversely, it should be said that Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., the target of some of Greene’s worst vitriol, has long worked to improve the Somali community’s trust in vaccinations.
As FiveThirtyEight noted this year, conservatives have long been resistant tomandates for vaccinations. What has changed slightly, notes science journalist Tara Haelle, is their language. After focusing largely on arguments about “toxins,” the anti-vaccine movement is now more focused on arguments about “choice,” a broader rallying cry for the pro-freedom red state crowd. Today, conservatives constantly invoke the language of “choice.” Indeed, conservative Republicans brought the country to the brink of a government shutdown just a few days ago over vaccine mandates.
Perhaps most frightening is the way the anti-vaxx movement has melded with true anti-democratic extremists. About a block away from the Capitol on Jan. 6, anti-vaccine activists held a “MAGA Freedom Rally” that blended anti-vaccine claptrap with lies about the integrity of the 2020 presidential election. Del Bigtree, who produced a documentary lionizing disgraced former doctor Andrew Wakefield and his now-retracted study linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism, was a featured speaker. During the rally, Bigtree compared Fauci to voting machines, claiming Americans could trust neither. It’s possible that the more cynical anti-vaxxers see election fraud as their next pivot (and meal ticket).
But unlike Covid-19, autism isn’t scary. We shouldn’t fear it, but rather learn to better support those individuals living with it. Sadly, as autism diagnoses increased in the 1990s and the 2000s, solidarity did not keep pace. Instead, anti-vaxxers offered simplistic conspiratorial rationalizations that cast wide and damaging cultural shadows.
Like a tumor, the anti-vaccine movement has metastasized in other parts of the American body politic. Many of the strategies that could help dismantle ableism would also help mitigate the effects of the pandemic: namely community-based care. But these efforts are undermined by anti-vaxxers once again wreaking havoc. Only now, it’s not just autistic people in their crosshairs. It’s all of us.