Vaccines Are Even More Polarizing Than Masks, Or Trump

Want to liven up a dull party in a jiffy? Just walk in wearing a “Greatest President Ever” t-shirt featuring a photo of Donald Trump smiling smugly or making a mocking face. You’re likely to get pats on the back from some and punches in the gut from others.

Observant students of history and politics know that labeling individual presidents or other political figures as “dividers” and blaming them for a contentious political climate is scapegoating of the worst kind. Voters have their favorite heroes and villains, and if you think Trump’s to blame for all the division in America today, you’d have tens of millions of people agreeing with you, and you’d all be wrong. Wrong like those who blamed Barack Obama for all the division, or George W. Bush before him, or Joe Biden now.

Remember the election of 2000, Bush vs. Al Gore? Yeah, a real squeaker that went to the Supreme Court. Half of America thunderously cheered the Court’s decision to stop all the recounts while the other half screamed bloody murder. All that happened before any of the four most recent presidents, from Bush to Biden, set foot in the Oval Office.

The Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat is a divisive object. It’s made of cloth, worn atop the head, and conveys a benign, wonderful, endearing, and politically neutral message. Yet, lunatics on the left insist that what the messenger, Trump, means by “great” is a “signal” to return the days of white supremacy, misogyny, and jingoism. After all, isn’t that what “great” means when you look it up in the dictionary? Accordingly, it’s a good idea not to wear it in public, as you may need eyes in the back of your head lest you get ambushed. Passersby are likely to judge you and make Herculean conclusion-jumps that you’re every bit the monster they’ve deemed Trump to be.

Last year, though, a new piece of cloth emerged from nowhere to dethrone the MAGA hat as America’s most divisive attire worn above the neck: the mask. To detail the sheer insanity of how the entire planet has donned these oxygen-depriving contraptions in a panic to seek protection from one another’s potential particles of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 – Note: N95 masks work; the rest are utterly useless glorified doo-rags – requires an entire column to itself, so I won’t elaborate now.

The point is, masks are very divisive. It’s truly sad that this virus, the most unfortunate calamity to shake humanity since World War II, rather than bringing people together has transformed their fear into cruel divisiveness.

Militant anti-maskers angrily chide the masked for being “mindless sheep,” blindly complying with directives issued by equally clueless authority figures who make it up as they go along. Avid pro-maskers, in turn, condemn the unmasked for being redneck Neanderthal hermits who conjure up all sorts of One World Order conspiracy theories, think masks are a portend of an imminent communist takeover, and in their supreme ignorance and paranoia are super-spreaders who effectively commit murder (they mean manslaughter, but they don’t realize it).

Take that, Donald Trump! And here you thought no one or nothing can touch you when it comes to stirring up controversy!

But, not so fast, now there’s a new king of Hostility Hill: vaccines. The hysterics about whether to vax or not to vax are off the charts, and the collective stress isn’t doing anyone any good.

To recap, numerous vaccines have been developed and are widely hailed as being remarkably safe and effective against developing serious symptoms of the virus. Trump, Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Bill O’Reilly all agree! Now, when was the last time everyone in that group agreed on anything?

But not everyone agrees. And the skeptics are not limited to suspicious hillbillies. They include many types of doctors and scientists, some of them world-renowned. Sizable percentages of health care workers who work in hospitals and face the greatest danger of contracting the virus refuse to be vaccinated.

Many doubters claim that the manner in which this particular vaccine was developed is not the way vaccines usually work. They point to the need for repeated booster shots and contend that vaccinating during a pandemic only forces a virus into the unnatural pattern of mutating more aggressively and creating more intense variants of itself than would have been the case had humans simply allowed nature to take its course.

Many of the skeptics are not anti-vaxxers. They’ve received plenty of vaccines and so have their kids. They’re also not necessarily opposed to ever getting vaccinated against this particular virus; in fact, many are hopeful of one in the works now, by a company called Novavax, which is closer to what a traditional vaccine looks and acts like, and which may be available before the end of the year.

Their concerns are intensified when facts are largely squelched about folks who upon vaccination have lost their lives or suffered debilitating health issues that have yet to reverse themselves months later, or about promising treatments like monoclonal antibodies. They don’t believe the vaccine is a death jab perpetuated by Bill Gates as part of his master plan to reduce the world’s population; rather, they think the plan to save the world from a horrible contagious disease is well-intentioned but poorly conceptualized and executed.

Unvaccinated employees, viewed as potentially dangerous spreaders, are being terminated, and they’d rather lose their jobs than become in their opinion even more dangerous spreaders by vaccinating.

Some vaccines have been recalled over the years, most haven’t. Does that mean we’re better off taking our chances with the vaccine, or without it? I don’t know who’s right in this debate, but what amazes me is that with so many lingering questions, each side digs in its heels with such certainty, and rage. Each accuses the other of irresponsibly enabling homicide, and rattles off statistics of hundreds of thousands of deaths, placing the blame squarely on the other.

There’s a horrible contagious disease out there, alright; it’s called barbarism.


This article is part of a continuing series dealing with reports of Greek POWs in Asia Minor in the Thessaloniki newspaper, Makedonia in July 1936.

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