President Biden’s hectoring speech put none of these suspicious to rest. Quite the opposite. Surely President Biden knew many would dig in their heels. Why would he take this tack? Frijters, Foster, and Baker note the role of “sin stories” during the COVID panic. “A very effective way to dominate people,” they write, “is to convince them they are sinful unless they obey.” Government officials and powerful business leaders use sin stories to divide and control opposition. Corporations break the power of labor by cultivating discord in the workforce; politicians tell sin stories to keep the people from mounting mass opposition. COVID, they note, is “an almost perfect sin story,” one that sets all against all by treating everyone as a potential source of deadly infection and literally distances us from one another so we can’t mount a united opposition. Giant companies told sin stories to kill off small businesses that couldn’t afford to keep up with constantly-changing regulations. And President Biden deepens divisions by presenting himself as president of the vaccinated, whose duty is to protect them from impure semi-citizens like me.
I may be an impure semi-citizen myself. I have certainly never been inclined to be servile toward the state, especially given the quality — or mostly lack thereof — of politicians these days. Others, I gather, are more compliant than I.
Some people do seem to have a kind of religious fervor regarding vaccination (of course, others have a peculiar and overtly religious objection to them). Having been rather well trained in philosophy — the rational sort — I find this all very strange. I do not place my faith in science. Science is not about faith. It is about observation, experiment, and verification. And it is always open to challenge. Otherwise we would still think the sun circled the earth. I have had good lab courses in biology, physics, and chemistry. I have been a medical editor. The first thing I ever wrote that got me some success was a paper about microscopic life in a stagnant pond, complete with photomicrographs I had myself taken. I was about 15 at the time. It won a prize from Philadelphia's Museum of Natural History. So, while I am not a scientist, I like to think I am scientifically literate. And as an old-school journalist, I think all sides of a subject should be looked into, and all should be open to question.