Friday, July 23, 2021

Weaponization Of Fear: The Unvaccinated Are Unclean, Unsafe, Worthy Of Ridicule And Exclusion

spectatorworld  |  A more concerning tactic has been the application of negative pressure to achieve social conformity. The vaccine-resistant have been called ‘Covidiots’, ‘granny killers’ and, lately, ‘refuseniks’. Tony Blair said recently that it was ‘time to distinguish’ between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated: substitute race or another protected characteristic and this is an ugly look. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz described ultra-Orthodox Jews who do not follow the state’s vaccination rules as ‘COVID insurgents’ and ‘terrorists’ in starkly obvious bio-political language.

The implications are obvious: the vaccinated are clean and safe; the unvaccinated are unclean, unsafe, worthy of ridicule and exclusion. The writer Nick Cohen predicts a period of ‘class and racial strife’ and observes ‘it is only a matter of time before we turn on the unvaccinated’. Such a narrative of dehumanization is a serious threat to weigh against encouraging vaccines and adherence to lockdowns.

‘Behavioral psychologists focus on what you can get people to do, on short-term issues of behavior, not long-term issues of trust,’ says Dr Jackie Cassell. In the haste to bring a speedy resolution to a pandemic, to fast forward to a happy ending, what might happen to long-term confidence in public health messaging, including future vaccination programs? Emergency recourse to oversimplified pressure might not be the best solution for the unsure, who may be more likely to benefit from an in-depth conversation with a healthcare provider than from a cash prize.

Fear has created a morality play where heavy-handed get-the-shot tactics are privileged over the development of long-term trust. While the current pandemic may necessitate a quick-fix approach, the long-term objectives of improving vaccine confidence and overall trust in medical science must not be lost. More threatening still, dehumanizing tactics to deter anti-vax sentiment will divide us.

Some will rush, arms outstretched and sleeves rolled up, toward syringes and sweets. Some will hang back, deterred by an eerily hard sell. In the desperate desire to end the Horrible Story of the COVID-19 Pandemic, are we rushing toward a conclusion without being certain of our priorities?

 

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