by Dan Gelernter
The word “confusing” is being used (even by the New York Times) to describe the CDC’s reasoning behind its announcement that masks must again be worn indoors, even by the fully vaccinated.
In fact, the CDC’s reasoning is clear, and talk about “confusion” is an attempt to conceal a straightforward assessment: As CDC head bureaucrat Rochelle Walensky said on Fox News on Friday, vaccinated people can still get the “delta” variant and can transmit it. Top medical mafioso Anthony Fauci said essentially the same thing last week—that for the delta variant there was no difference in the observed level of “virality” between people who were vaccinated and those who were not.
In other words, the vaccine doesn’t work for delta.
This would appear to be bad news for the CDC, vaccine-wise. But the federal government will pressure you to get this vaccine anyway. Even if the vaccine provides no protection against new mutations of the disease. Even if the vast majority of people now have antibodies (data from the British Office of National Statistics showed more than 90 percent of Great Britain’s population has antibodies). Even if there are legitimate questions about the long-term effects of the vaccine on young people who are not at risk from COVID. The government wants you to get this shot, period.
The Biden Administration announced that if you’re in the military you will not be forced to get the vaccine—they’ll just make your life really, really miserable if you don’t. You’ll have to wear a mask all the time (despite the fact that vaccinated soldiers should be at no risk from the unvaccinated). You’ll have to remain “socially distanced” and also get tested continuously. The technique is oddly reminiscent of From Here to Eternity, the famous World War II drama in which a soldier who doesn’t want to fight a boxing match is relentlessly hazed by his commanding officer.
The actual problem from the CDC’s point of view is not that the vaccine doesn’t work but that the new variant is lackluster: “delta” for disappointing. Infection rates have gone up, but the death rate, the only stat that matters, has remained pretty flat. (This is why all news articles alleging that Florida is a dangerous COVID hotspot omit the death rate from their charts.) As shown in the Financial Times, daily deaths in the United States from COVID-19 over the last month have ranged from between 200 and 350 deaths a day. Literally one in a million. More people die on a daily basis from accidents. Coronavirus simply isn’t very dangerous anymore, and that is awful news for the government.
Government thrives on failure—failure means more money, bigger departments, more control. Success means the opposite. So it’s not just that our government never lets a crisis go to waste: It never lets a crisis end. They’ve brought out the masks again to try to make people believe that the disease is still something we need to think about, worry about, and of course pay for, every day.
And the best way possible to string out the pandemic is to create a perception that people who are unvaccinated are a pariah class, and to redirect peoples’ anger at the government to these people.
On the panel discussion that followed Wolensky’s Fox Interview was former U.S. Representative Harold Ford, Jr. (D-Tenn.). He is fair-minded but not particularly intelligent. His comments represent the success of the government’s stigmatization campaign: We shouldn’t be angry at the CDC, he said, rather our “frustration” should be directed against people who have refused the vaccine. He emphasized “frustration,” which is just a code word for “anger.” We should be angry at the unvaccinated. It is their fault society has been ruined. They are terrible, selfish, beastly people.
But I think Ford is actually worried about something slightly different. The one and only serious question Bret Baier asked Wolensky in the Fox interview was: “Why are so many medical professionals not getting the vaccine?” Wolensky didn’t answer, making a diffuse and rambling argument that amounted to, “We need to find out what information these people are lacking, so we can inform them and they’ll want the vaccine then.”
The reason so many medical professionals are refusing the shot probably has something to do with why Ford feels so “frustrated”: People who refuse to get the vaccine are a reminder that there just might conceivably be a legitimate reason for not wanting to get vaccinated. Ford cannot acknowledge any legitimate objection to the vaccine without also admitting, at least to himself, that he may have exposed himself and his family to an unknown danger. It is easy to see why that thought would be disturbing to him. It is much more reassuring to instead assume the people who reject the vaccine are simply selfish and crazy.
Well, I reject the vaccine. I will be happy to reassess the case in a few years, once we’ve had a chance to see how it performs in the long term. For now, I’m young, healthy, reasonably fit, have no leukemia or other aggravating conditions. I’m not at serious risk. If you are at risk, go get the vaccine. You will then be protected. If you’re worried that I may still get the “delta” variant and transmit it to you—it turns out that you’re just as likely, as a vaccinated person, to get it and transmit it to me. But I’m not worried.
Fauci says that if I walk around without a mask, I am “encroaching” on your right not to get sick. I’m sorry, but you have no such right. To live your entire life in fear of getting a disease is no better for your mind than a bad case of the flu is for your body. But the flu is transient, whereas perpetual fear of disease is not: It will disable you, and make you an isolated, lonely, scared, bitter person. You may not get COVID, but you will be sick.
Fortunately, it seems a number of my fellow Americans agree, even in the middle of New York City: In the days after the CDC’s new mask guidelines, a fair proportion of people continue to ride the subway and bus maskless. The mask mandate for public transit has been in place since the beginning, but many New Yorkers have had enough of it. Likewise on the Long Island Rail Road last weekend: by the time my train reached Huntington, I found myself surrounded entirely by people not wearing masks. As if by tacit consent, everyone agreed that it was time for the stupidity to stop. The conductor came by, asked us for our tickets, and said nothing about masks.
New York City’s Mayor de Blasio has just announced the city will require a vaccine passport, with scannable QR-code, for indoor dining, gyms, and concerts. The chips are down: In New York I have a choice between living in isolation or letting the government track every visit I make to a restaurant. For the first time in my life, I feel the law being brought to bear against me. I feel the attempt to turn law-abiding and peace-loving citizens into criminals. But I will not be coerced. I will not be blackmailed. I don’t know whether I’m going to end up fined or in jail or just lonely—but I hope others will join me in telling Mayor de Blasio that he can go straight to hell.
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Dan Gelernter is a columnist for American Greatness living in Connecticut.
Photo “Syringe” by Jernej Furman (CC BY 2.0).