Delusional Thinking On The Rise As COVID Deniers Block Access To Vaccination Site In Los Angeles

The news that protesters against masking, social distancing, and the COVID-19 vaccine shut down a vaccination site at Dodger Stadium over the weekend is troubling me.* (One of them can be seen in video holding a sign that says, “I only like muzzles in the ♥ bedroom ♥.” Way to build credibility for your anti-science stance, I guess.)

Los Angeles has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic’s winter wave, and people have been willing to line up for hours to be on standby to receive a dose of the vaccine.

(Note: the reason I don’t like name calling was instantly demonstrated when a bot on Twitter responded to this language by claiming falsely that Jewish people are cancers on our civilization. When they go low, let’s not follow them to the bottom.)

The level of delusional thinking that would lead someone to interfere with other people seeking health care is hard to fathom. 

The fact that the protesters were themselves unmasked and undistanced indicates that they either think COVID-19 is a hoax or they think it’s a type of flu that most people recover from. The fact that they’re all white indicates they are from a demographic that has suffered least with COVID mortality. Latinx workers in Los Angeles have a terribly high rate of infection and many families are grieving the loss of a loved one while also scrambling to cope with the loss of a breadwinner. Ditto Black workers and their families.

The first person I know personally who was hospitalized with COVID, an older white man, was intubated in the ICU for 11 days before sort of recovering. Now he’s suffered congestive heart failure and is back in the hospital. I can’t figure out why the protesters don’t know anybody with similar experiences by now.

The level of delusional thinking that would lead someone to mock and harrass the survivor of a school mass shooting event is also hard to fathom.

And these two delusions seem to be more than coincidentally connected.

An extremely numb congressperson from Georgia who I do not care to name harrassed Cori Bush, a Black congresswoman from Missouri, berating her and her staff in the hallway outside their office. While not wearing a mask as required to be in the Capitol buildings. The same congressperson from Georgia is on video harassing David Hogg, a survivor of a mass shooting at his high school in Florida who went on to become a gun control organizer. (Side note: a Republican politician in central Maine lost his job as vice president of a local bank after doing the same, but on Twitter.) 

I know that the parents of first graders who died in the Sandy Hook school massacre have also reported being gaslighted by gun nuts. The pain of burying your 6 year old is almost unimaginable, but the pain of being mocked and harrassed for saying truthfully that your 6 year old was gunned down at school is beyond belief. I’ve always assumed that the NRA was responsible for pushing that cruel craziness, because they protect those who profit from gun sales.

Regardless of who’s pushing the cruel craziness around preventing folks from voluntarily being vaccinated to avoid dying gasping for breath, it’s a sign of the times. Harrassing women seeking reproductive health care has been going on for years and I suppose was the harbinger of things to come.

Unprecedented access to information, both useful and false, has led many down the path to sheer delusion. What happened?

The colonial settler state that became the U.S. has always had cults that held worldviews far from the mainstream: e.g. that the world would end on (fill in the date), or that all computers would crash on January 1, 2000. In 1978, Jim Jones led followers south to Guyana before convincing hundreds to poison themselves and their children, a mass murder-suicide that coined the phrase “drinking the Kool-aid.”

We know about climate change denial, flat earth believers (one of whom is a pharmacist being prosecuted for deliberately spoiling 500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine), those who believe the moon landing in 1969 was faked — and then we come to the unfortunate events of September 11, 2001.

It seems to me that since 9/11was used as the pretext to invade and occupy Afghanistan in perpetuity, while taking an ax to civil liberties at home with the so-called Patriot Act, people in the U.S. have become more and more confused about what is or isn’t true. 

In 2003 they were told by news outlets they had relied on for actual facts that Saddam Hussein’s regime had weapons of mass destruction. Also that Iraq was responsible for 9/11. Both claims were patently false, but it didn’t matter. Cue another invasion and unending occupation at great cost to taxpayers and great profits for actual makers of WMDs. Bush lied, people died. You get the idea.

Our corporate overlords would prefer that the impending revolution over lack of housing, health care, and even food, be a civil war instead. Getting us fighting over race or political ideologies is preferable to our finding ourselves with grievances in common and organizing mass action to do something about it. 

As long as we’re divided, they’re conquering.

* For those who know me I may seem hypocritical criticizing protesters shutting down an event. I’ve often done so at the “christening” events for the type of warship used to bomb Bagdhad in 2003. People who just want to entertain themselves and their children flock to these events at General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works shipyard, and my friends and I block access to the shipyard gates with our bodies. The difference as I see it: no one is going inside BIW to get access to health care they hope will be life-saving. 

3 thoughts on “Delusional Thinking On The Rise As COVID Deniers Block Access To Vaccination Site In Los Angeles

  1. Adam here, whose tweet you included in this post. Thanks for writing about this. My mom is a retired teacher too. 46 years in the NYC public school system, half of them at the Bronx High School of Science, which I attended as well. Then she chaired a math department at a Yeshiva high school for another several years.

    I agree with a lot of what you’ve written here. It sounds like we’re on the same side of most things, but I do take issue with one thing you’ve written, and I’m not trying to be argumentative. In your caption under my tweet in this blog, you make reference to my remark that the people physically blocking access of at risk senior citizens to a life saving vaccine, are, “cancers on our civilization”. You state, “…The reason I don’t like name calling was instantly demonstrated when a bot on Twitter responded to this language by claiming falsely that Jewish people are cancers on our civilization. When they go low, let’s not follow them to the bottom.” I’m afraid this implies a rather false equivalence. Specifically, what I said was not nice. It was intended to be not nice. But there really is no comparison between my statement and the bot that responded, “Jews are a cancer on the world”. That centuries old example of abject, unapologetic, racism, bigotry, and antisemitism is, just that, as opposed to an example of “name calling”.

    Several paragraphs later in this same blog post, you use the term “gun nuts”. I’m with you on that term. But, that could also easily be considered “name calling”. And yet, neither that, nor my remark about those protesters blocking the site, are comparable to outright racist hate speech. They’re not even in the same ballpark. When you say, “let’s not follow them to the bottom”, you imply that my statement (or yours about “gun nuts”), having been defined (by you) as “name calling” is somewhere near “the bottom” with racism, bigotry, and antisemitism. It also implies one begets the other, like if I hadn’t referred to those protesters as “meanly” as I did, the bot wouldn’t have been so racist. Comparison of the two statements crosses into that “both sides” type of obfuscation and distraction that we’ve heard from the Trump administration for far too long, and that’s actually part of the tone that has newly emboldened these people in the first place.

    Hey, this is your blog, and of course you’re entitled to your opinion. I just thought I’d express that in my opinion, there isn’t any remote equivalence between what I said and what the bot said, and if the bot’s antisemitism is “the bottom”, I didn’t follow him anywhere near it.

    Best,
    Adam Michaelson

    • Hey Adam,
      Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Nice to learn about your mom’s teaching career. Seems like she raised a critical thinker so good on her.

      You are right about false equivalencies between calling people “nuts” or “cancers” and the antisemitic, name-calling characterizations of Jewish people as less than human. Ironically, it’s because I studied and taught about the Holocaust and other genocides for many years that I developed a heightened awareness of the slippery slope that lies just beneath name calling. I’m not against it because it’s “mean” — I’m against it because it’s dangerous, in my opinion. Violent language is a precursor to violent acts.

      We also know from extensive research that violent language is harmful to *all* children who hear it, which is why the American Psychological Association opposes the use of mascots and team names that stereotype groups of human beings.

      I also agree with your point that name calling is not “the bottom” — my point was that it heads in that direction.

      Thanks for calling me out about referring to people as “nuts” and for holding the line against racism, bigotry, and antisemistism. Your mom must be proud of you.

      Be well,
      Lisa

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