Uncivil War Over COVID Response Gaining Momentum & Distracting Us From The Real Villains

A tremendous amount of debate is apparent around the convergence of two themes I’ve posted about recently on this blog: “Divided We Fall May Be COVID’s Underlying Purpose” and “Revolution Needed, So Our Corporate Overlords Are Fanning The Flames For Civil War.

Just yesterday I saw this post from a friend on Facebook:

He was making reference to the many people posting sentiments like “Let the unvaccinated die at home rather than taking up an ICU bed when they catch COVID.” Besides the creepy tone of wishing death on others, my first thought was that it would include all children under 12. Wow.

The same source shared an excellent article on medical ethics by Dr. Jay Baruch: “It’s easy to judge the unvaccinated. As a doctor, I see a better alternative.

Dr. Baruch points out that when people ask him how he can provide care to a COVID patient who is unvaccinated, it’s analogous to asking how he could treat a drunk driver for injuries, or a burn victim who lit a cigarette while on oxygen for emphysema.


But nearly every COVID response has been politicized to the nth degree in order to drive us ever further from common ground. 

Whether to mask, whether to vax, whether to distance, or open schools, or mandate public health measures in public places like schools — all are subject to hysterical name calling aimed at opponents and coming from both sides of any of these issues.

I’ll stop with the examples now. Compiling them all would require several websites.

My friend Pat Taub who has a background in group facilitation wrote a letter to the editor that was published this week by Maine’s biggest daily paper: “Creating listening circles to heal our divisions.” An excerpt:

I wish the media would stop reporting on the deepening clashes between the vaccinated and the anti-vaccinated as if it were a fait accompli, rather than suggesting ways to heal this division.

The vaccinated look down on the unvaccinated as irresponsible because they fail to consider that being unvaccinated means, if they get COVID, that they also can infect others and spread the virus. The unvaccinated feel that government-mandated vaccinations are an infringement on their personal freedom. Others opposed don’t trust the vaccines or believe in their efficacy.

These divisions, which are becoming increasingly violent, are distracting us from coming together to build strong communities. We are lacking in mutual understanding.

To bridge this gap, I suggest local listening projects, where individuals representing opposing views meet in a supportive environment led by a moderator experienced in communication skills. Schools, churches, synagogues and libraries are logical settings. The listening groups would be composed of pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination volunteers.

Seven of the eight comments on her letter expressed contempt for the idea of listening to the other side. Only one affirmed her diagnosis while suggesting an alternative cure:

Meanwhile, teachers and college instructors heading back to the classroom right now are sounding a note of desperation about keeping themselves and their families safe in the face of the highly infectious Delta variant. 

An example from Dalton State College in Georgia:

I just retired from teaching and I’m about to turn down two invitations to volunteer because the part of Maine I live in isn’t all that different from Georgia. With an older husband who already has respiratory issues, it’s not a gamble I feel like I can take to be indoors among unvaxxed or unmasked adults.

I’m disappointed in people’s choices, but I’m going to keep listening. 

I’m not going to wish them dead. 

Health Care Workers Who Won’t Get COVID Vax To Be Out Of A Job In Maine

My status updates on spybook seldom get much attention, but lately almost anything about COVID choices gets a lot of comments and clicks (and a gratuitous offer of COVID information I can trust? I’ll pass.) 

Yesterday I had a mildly shocking experience receiving health care and I posted this:

The context here in Maine is that our governor has given health care workers notice that, unless they are vaccinated, they will have to stop working in health care. 

If you think this should be a foregone conclusion, you haven’t been paying attention.

There have already been two protests in Maine cities with hundreds of health care workers marching for their right to get up close and personal to administer health care without being vaccinated.

I have persistently shared my theory that the underlying purpose of COVID was to divide the 99% against one another so that the 1% can continue their reign of austerity for us and obscene wealth for them. That, too, has gotten a lot of clicks and shares so it will probably be taken down as misinformation soon (read it here while you can).

Many of the comments I cannot agree with, but I let the debates rage on because

I’m genuinely curious to know how other people understand this health crisis and the optimum ways to respond.

Both right wingers and liberals tend to be really nasty with the name-calling, insults, and generalized lack of respect for other people. I think that’s sad and I never “like” that kind of language. Every genocide and civil war begins with dehumanizing language aimed at “others.”

I am reminded of a theory I encountered recently: holding demonstrably false ideas in public is a way of signaling loyalty to your group, thus conferring an evolutionary advantage. If true, this explains a lot. Especially how 45 became more popular with his fan base for tweeting lies that everyone knew were lies. If you want to check out this theory, you can read about it here.

A ubiquitous comment from both sides wonders how the others could be so stupid.

This is an ableist comment unless what they really mean is ignorant. No, stupid and ignorant aren’t synonyms. One means unable to use reasoning well and the other means lacking information. People with developmental delays in cognition are not uneducated but they are differently abled. As for what happened with public education in the U.S., don’t get me started.

An anecdote from pre-COVID days:

I once learned how to use an app for making online quizzes. Another learner and I took a sample quiz where one of the math questions depended on knowing the order of operations i.e. PEMDAS. The other learner doubted the answer and it bugged them enough that they brought it up to me later. I explained why I thought it was the right answer using PEMDAS and then added, “______ was a math major and is our IT director so I’m pretty sure if he and I disagree about the answer to a math problem, he’s gonna be correct.” I could tell that this did not resolve the other learner’s skepticism. They trusted my answer — I was a literacy coach — more than his! Possibly because they had a closer relationship with me than with the IT director? Who really knows.

Distrust of experts — even in an education setting — has been with us for a while.

And it can be deadly. 

Maine legislator Rep. Chris Johansen continues to go into crowds unmasked and to fight vaccines and masking requirements for large gatherings despite the fact that both he and his wife contracted COVID. His wife died.

Then there’s the fact that the No Child Behind Act, passed with bipartisan support during George W. Bush’s adminstration, took an ax to both science and social studies education. It did this by preferencing reading and math for the test-and-punish regime that enriched for-profit testing corporations. Science clawed its way back via STEM and other intitiatives from the outside world, but much damage had  been done. And social studies has never really recovered. 

That explains a lot, too, doesn’t it? It’s clear how even many elected officials really don’t know the structures of government or understand their role in that structure. Once big money controlled all three branches of government at the federal level, and many if not all state legislatures, the old civics lesson on “how a bill becomes a law” became a lie anyway.

It would probably be elitist of me to point out that it isn’t doctors or registered nurses (RN) refusing to get vaccinated for the most part. 

Here in Maine it’s the much less educated health care providers who are the refuseniks e.g. certified nursing assistants (CNAs), lab technicians, hospital kitchen workers, group home attendants, and the like.

My sister works at the leading research hospital in northern California as an RN and has for years. I value her information and advice because so far it has been ahead of the curve i.e. the intel that she passes on from the epidemiologists at her hospital anticipates what eventually the CDC gets around to recommending. I’m guessing this is because UCSF researchers care about health rather than about commerce, while the CDC must serve two masters.

Meanwhile, every school district in Maine — and there are a lot of them — has been thrown to the wolves to hold the line for science amid shouts, threats, and jeers of uneducated and/or ignorant parents.

Then there’s the big picture context.

Source: https://twitter.com/OpinionatedLab/status/1426296638654619648

Lies are the currency of the day. Big lies, ones that can kill you.

Well, after all this gloom and doom I feel moved to end on a lighter note. No idea who created this gem:

Source: https://www.facebook.com/snarkavenue/photos/a.397515703684731/3517531905016413/