Christian Nationalism Is a Barrier to Mass Vaccination Against COVID-19

Yves here. I’m running this post with its original headline, although the article doesn’t make terribly clear what “Christian nationalism” is. The author defines is at extreme evangelism but I’m at a loss to understand what makes that “nationalism”. The reason I am running this article is that it discusses an specific issue that IM Doc mentioned back in early February.

And even though we are discussing different subcultures in America, we might as well be talking about different countries. One of the lessons I learned by virtue of deciding to see the world on the McKinsey plan, was that virtually without exception, US companies entering a foreign market would royally screw things up. Even if they’d managed to hire good managers from the new market, the top brass would reject recommended changes to the product or branding to cater to local tastes: “They can’t possibly want that! Of course they’ll prefer our superior dog food!” They almost always had to fail before they’d listen to how the locals thought about things and understand why they wanted what they wanted.

I had sent a link from the Ghion Journal, which was and is pretty up in arms about the Covid vaccines, as an example of vaccine alarmism in the black community. IM Doc said then that he was hearing a lot of reports from doctors in his network in big cities of vaccine hesitancy among blacks and if anything more so among Latinos at that point. But he was the first to alert me to opposition among conservative Christians, beyond those based on the mistaken belief that fetal cells had somehow been used in vaccine development (true in a very strained sense with the J&J vaccine). From his e-mail:

We are seeing all this rage and rush to get vaccinated right now. It is easy to assume there is widespread demand. That is not true…. And then the fun will begin. If you think the anti-mask, anti-lockdown people have been ridiculed and shamed – you have not seen anything yet. I know my Big Pharma and it is obvious they have a stranglehold on our agencies and politicians. They have gotten so used to complete acquiescence that they are becoming supremely over-confident. Trust me, if they think they will get away with forced vaccination of kids for school, they have no idea what they are stepping in. Also, I can think of no quicker way to bankruptcy for airlines and cruise companies then to demand a vaccine passport. They will instantly cut their customer base by 30-40%.

It is not just blacks and Latinos. Our medical and public health elites have their head so far up their ass that they are missing critical cultural and religious issues going on all over this country with regard to the vaccine. For example, my oh so Protestant family members and all their friends back home have zero intention of taking this vaccine. All the talk of vaccine passports and vaccine cards to get in and out of stores and restaurants and events have convinced them that this is the first manifestation of the long anticipated Mark of the Beast. To take the Mark of the Beast is a certain trip to Hell for Eternity….And because of our elites’ complete bungling insensitivity, they have already completely and permanently alienated these people. Again, this is being preached from their pulpits, and no amount of coercion or threats is going to work. I grew up in that environment. I know what I am talking about. They will starve to death before they take The Mark of the Beast.

I have no idea how large this population is. IM Doc gave an estimate for rural America and the South that struck me as high, having lived in the rural upper Midwest, Oregon, and spent a lot of time in Maine. But the point is this is a cohort that is not trivial in size, and its existence has finally gotten the attention of some in the officialdom, too late in the game for them to change course. You’ll see the out-of-touch recommendation in the piece:

…faith leaders can guide their followers and use their pulpits to encourage parishioners that the vaccine is safe and in line with religious doctrines.

That could work with concerns that are based on misinformation, but not ones based on views that see social control/surveillance as evil. There’s no way of prettying up the more heavy-handed schemes to get citizens to take the shot.

And IM Doc, then as now, argued that the bureaucrats have done a terrible job with general practitioners by failing to give the information needed to give honest answers and “best available data” assessments of outcomes and risks:

And again, I will remind you – as a primary care physician I have been tasked with educating patients about these vaccines. I have little if any information about safety. I have zero information on how these vaccines will help death or hospitalizations. I have zero information on how long the immunity will last. I have zero credible and often wildly disparate information about whether it will work on these variants, which are now this month’s panic porn topic on the news. I have very educated patients who come to ask questions all day every day. I will not lie to them, nor will I smile and pass out happy horse shit like so many of my colleagues seem to be doing. The medical elites have put the normal PCPs of this country in a very difficult if not impossible situation.

I hope and pray that all goes well. I, like everyone else, want this to be over. However, if something goes majorly wrong with this gamble, God help us.

By Monique Deal Barlow, Doctoral Student of Political Science, Georgia State University. Originally published at The Conversation

While the majority of Americans either intend to get the COVID-19 vaccine or have already received their shots, getting white evangelicals to vaccination sites may prove more of a challenge – especially those who identify as Christian nationalists.

A Pew Research Center survey conducted in February found white evangelicals to be the religious group least likely to say they’d be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Nearly half (45%) said they would not get the COVID-19 shot, compared with 30% of the general population.

Some evangelicals have even linked coronavirus vaccinations to the “mark of the beast”– a symbol of submission to the Antichrist found in biblical prophecies, Revelation 13:18.

As a scholar of religion and society, I know that this skepticism among evangelicals has a background. Suspicion from religious conservatives regarding the COVID-19 vaccine is built on the back of their growing distrustof science, medicine and the global elite.

‘Anti-Mask, Anti-Social Distance, Anti-Vaccine’

Vaccine hesitancy is not restricted to immunization over COVID-19. In 2017, the Pew Research Center found that more than 20% of white evangelicals – more than any other group – believed that “parents should be able to decide not to vaccinate their children, even if that may create health risks for other children and adults.”

Meanwhile, there are concerns that many white evangelicals are becoming more radical. Faith is not in itself an indication of extremism, but the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 showed that there is a problem when it comes to some evangelicals also holding extreme beliefs. White evangelicalism, in particular, has been susceptible to Christian nationalism– the belief that the U.S. is a Christian nation that should serve the interests of white Americans.

Those who identify as Christian nationalists believe they are God’s chosen people and will be protected from any illness or disease.

This proves problematic when it comes to vaccinations. A study earlier this year found Christian nationalists were far more likely to abstain from taking the COVID-19 vaccine. It builds on research that found Christian nationalism was a leading predictor of ignoring precautionary behaviors regarding coronavirus.

Christian nationalists tend to place vaccinations within a worldview that generally distrusts science and scientists as a threat to the moral order. This was seen in the response of many on the religious right to guidance on masks and social distancing as well as, now, vaccines.

And in some cases it was driven by church leaders in the wider conservative evangelical community. For example, Tony Spell, a minister at the Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, defied authorities in holding mass church gatherings even after the state deemed them illegal. He has also rejected warnings that the pandemic is dangerous, stating, “We’re anti-mask, anti-social distancing, and anti-vaccine.”

He believes the vaccine is politically motivated and has used his pulpit to discourage church members from taking the vaccine.

This anti-vaccine attitude fits with the anti-government libertarianism that predominates among Christian nationalists. Many within the movement place this belief in freedom from government action within a traditional religious framework.

They feel that COVID-19 is God’s divinely ordained message telling the world to change. If the government tells them to go against that idea and vaccinate, many of them they feel they are either going against God’s will or that the government is violating their religious freedom.

Such a view was also seen before the vaccination rollout. White evangelicals were the least likely religious group to support mandated closures of businesses, for example.

Countering Misinformation

The problem isn’t just that Christian nationalist beliefs will be a considerable barrier to herd immunity. To dispel myths about the COVID-19 vaccination among conservative religious communities, church leaders need to be enlisted to communicate facts about the vaccine to their parishioners – who may trust church leaders more than scientists and the government.

For vaccination rates to be increased, messages must come from trusted people in the community. The opinion of a government official will in many instances matter far less to a Christian nationalist than advice from a church leader.

As such, I argue, faith leaders can guide their followers and use their pulpits to encourage parishioners that the vaccine is safe and in line with religious doctrines.

To enable this, church leaders need to both understand and communicate to parishioners the origins of the vaccine. Many evangelicals are under the mistaken impression that vaccines were developed using fresh fetal tissue and are immensely troubled by that fact.

In reality, none of the vaccinations for COVID-19 available in the U.S. was manufactured using new fetal stem cells, but the Johnson & Johnson one was developed using lab-created stem cell lines derived from a decades-old aborted fetus. Many evangelical churches have determined that it is ethical for anti-abortion Christians to take the other vaccines when there are no other options for the preservation of life.

Some within the wider evangelical movement have begun sounding the alarm over the influence of radicalized Christian nationalism.

After the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, a coalition of evangelical leaders published an open letter warning: “We recognize that evangelicalism, and white evangelicalism in particular, has been susceptible to the heresy of Christian nationalism because of a long history of faith leaders accommodating white supremacy.”

And many high-profile evangelical leaders acknowledge that they can maintain their personal and biblical integrity while also supporting scientific breakthroughs by connecting what they see as the wonders of God’s universe to science.

For example, Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health and a devoted evangelical Christian, has said: “The church, in this time of confusion, ought to be a beacon, a light on the hill, an entity that believes in truth.”

“This is a great moment for the church to say, no matter how well intentioned someone’s opinions may be, if they’re not based upon the fact, the church should not endorse them.”

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116 comments

  1. William Hunter Duncan

    Before the vaccines were widely available, I heard a virologist or some such on public radio say one of the reasons these mRNA vaccines had never been authorized was, there was concern they could cause auto-immune deficiencies. My jaw dropped at the time…and then I never heard a peep about it from officialdom again.

    So I did my own research lately, remembering that and contemplating having to take a vaccine I really don’t want to take. I found an article about it from the Jerusalem Post, acknowledging it, but otherwise downplaying it in a way that seemed reasonable. Otherwise in America that information, even acknowledging it to discuss it, was clearly not allowed to be part of the discussion, only the “there is no evidence these vaccines cause auto-immune deficiencies,” which of course there isn’t, as it is so early in the process – and I am no longer certain you would tell me there is a problem if there is.

    It is this imperial paternalism that makes me really not want to take this vaccine, this ‘we know better and you are too ignorant to handle information.’ If you can’t impress them with your brilliance baffle them with BS? I simply don’t feel like I am being given ANY real medical information about this, it is only, you have to take it. They have gone all-in on these vaccines so we can keep equities afloat, basically, which makes this not a medical thing but economic coercion. Then I heard our MN Governor Walz bragging about how he had a long conversation with the CEO of J&J, who said we all will have to take booster shots every year forever. And then I was like, I’d rather take my chances.

    Reply
    1. William Hunter Duncan

      Here are three questions I would like a serious Doc to answer, which are not forthcoming from officialdom:

      1. If I do not take the vaccine can a variant arise in me that puts others at risk?

      2. Even if people take the vaccine, and they can still get Covid, can a variant arise in them that puts us at risk?

      3. Why are these variants arising, seemingly so many of them, that appear to be more virulent than the last, when the normal course of any particular virus seems to be, that the variants are generally less virulent than the original?

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I’m not clear on your question 2. I think you are saying that you get that there is still some (albeit considerably reduced) Covid risk even with a vaccine, but whaddabout variants?

        Reply
        1. William Hunter Duncan

          I’m wondering, if people can still carry the vaccine despite being vaccinated, their body “trained” by the vaccine to fight the disease, could variants arise in reaction to the new training/coding? That seems plausible.

          I guess what I am trying to work out is, if I am not at much risk now because I mostly work alone, but am considering taking a job that would put me in contact with a lot of people indoors for many hours every day, but they are all likely vaccinated, what are the risks if I do not get a vaccine, to me or to them?

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I think you mean “carry the vaccine despite being vaccinated”.

            I hope I don’t stick foot in mouth before the MDs show up.

            I am pretty sure no one has suggested that people who get Covid are “carriers” in the Typhoid Mary sense. They get infected. There’s a period of time, generally believed to be a day or two before they show symptoms, if they are symptomatic, and a day to three days after, when they are “shedding the virus” as can infect others.

            We’ve now learned that asymptomatic cases can infect others too. This is why (per the paper we cross posted from INET on the risk of reopening schools) kids as Covid vectors has been underestimated. Data from the UK (very big scale studies, 100K each sample, of people to see who is infected v. not) suggests that kids in elementary school are 2x as likely to bring Covid into a household, and older school age kids, 7x as likely, as the adults. Yet hardly any kids get symptomatic Covid, or if it is symptomatic, it’s mistaken as a cold or stomach bug (as in symptoms less severe than in adults).

            The problem is per your question:

            1. The vaccines are not 100%. The test data for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines first was in the 94% range, now Pfizer has said in the field 91%. So you still have a small minority of people who get vaccinated who will get Covid.

            2. For the ones where the vaccines do “work,” all we know for sure re the vaccines is that they reduce hospitalizations and deaths. Unless we were testing a ton, and we aren’t, we don’t know for sure it they are preventing infection entirely in that 91% (for Pfizer) or reducing it to an asymptomatic level, or (most likely) a combo plate, preventing it entirely in some %, reducing severity in others

            3. Per the example with kids, if you still have people getting asymptomatic cases, they could still infect others.

            In other words, per above, the belief is that the vaccines protect others, not just the person vaccinated, but we really don’t know for sure. That is why IM Doc is so pissed. We really should be doing a ton of tests of the entire population like the UK to have way better baselines and we don’t.

            Does that help?

            Reply
            1. William Hunter Duncan

              That is very useful information, more than I have got from six months of listening to NPR.

              That is (part) of the madness of it, this “oh, kids can sit all day three feet apart, no problem,” “Oh My, We are so Terrified of a 4th wave, you MUST wear your mask and take your medicine!”

              So if I take that job indoors with people who have all taken the vaccine, and I do not take a vaccine, they put me at risk but I do not put them very much at risk?

              Reply
              1. GlassHammer

                “So if I take that job indoors with people who have all taken the vaccine, and I do not take a vaccine, they put me at risk but I do not put them very much at risk?”
                – William Hunter

                You put co-workers at risk if you spread a variant (because the vaccines are less effective against them) and you still put them at risk from regular COVID-19 (because the vaccines don’t provide 100% immunity even for the strain they were designed to combat).

                If you want to protect yourself and others you need a vaccine and you need to follow the other mitigation strategies as well.

                You know it really stinks to get COVID from a co-worker after getting a vaccine, being forced to quarantine for two weeks even if you feel well, and losing all you annual/sick leave for the year from that quarantine period. (This scenario does happen and boy does it make people mad.)

                Reply
                1. William Hunter Duncan

                  Ok. But isn’t every one of them, even vaccinated, capable of catching the variant and spreading it, from anyone; in other words, why would I be more likely to catch and spread the variant whether I am vaccinated or not?

                  But your comment does bring up a thorny problem, if there is only one non-vaccinated person in a building, what are the chances the non-vaccinated person gets blamed if someone gets the variant or gets sick from regular Covid, no matter where they caught it from?

                  And of course you are right, to catch a variant and spread it would not be good.

                  Reply
                  1. GlassHammer

                    “Ok. But isn’t every one of them, even vaccinated, capable of catching the variant and spreading it, from anyone; in other words, why would I be more likely to catch and spread the variant whether I am vaccinated or not?”

                    The vaccine makes them less likely to catch it but an un-vaccinated person has a much higher probability of getting it period. So it’s reasonable for co-workers to assume the source point was the un-vaccinated individual until other evidence is presented.

                    You have to understand many workers have no leave this year due to the COVID/Quarantine dynamic I described. There is little sympathy left among workers or employers for those who are either anti-vaccination or simply reckless.

                    I work with companies who are now running out of overhead funds to use for sick workers who have burned through all their annual/sick leave. Either everyone is going to get vaccinated and take this seriously or companies are going to close their doors permanently.

                    Reply
                    1. tegnost

                      Either everyone is going to get vaccinated and take this seriously or companies are going to close their doors permanently.

                      Exactly. It’s all about the economy. Not at all surprising to see today’s economic winners pounding the table for compliance. Take this experimental drug, or else. If you try boosters every 6 months this argument will go hollow fast, and I think this is the point. The PTB are gambling everything on this and are incapable of seeing the justifiable lack of trust in their judgement. Better hope it works.

                    2. GlassHammer

                      “It’s all about the economy. Not at all surprising to see today’s economic winners pounding the table for compliance.”
                      – tegnost

                      Look if your a small or medium size company like the ones I work with it’s more accurate to label you a “survivor” than an “economic winner”. Very few are doing anything close to “winning”.

                      “Take this experimental drug, or else.”
                      – Tegnost

                      That is a ridiculously un-charitable description of these vaccines and the need to take them to keep commerce going at the town, county, state, and national level.

                      “PTB are gambling everything on this and are incapable of seeing the justifiable lack of trust” – Tegnost

                      Strongly disagree, if anything we have an unjustifiable level of skepticism being propagated by individuals with no relevant skills, experience, or data required to weigh in on this pandemic. What we have is a mass of people using heuristics and incomplete data to propagate rumors and conspiracy theories. Heck the primary reason I spend less and less time online discussing this topic is the sheer amount of garbage being thrown into the discourse.

                    3. phenix

                      “Take this experimental drug, or else.”
                      – Tegnost

                      That is a ridiculously un-charitable description of these vaccines and the need to take them to keep commerce going at the town, county, state, and national level.

                      Can you provide any long term studies on these vaccines? Any long term studies on mRNA vaccines? These are mass experiments.

                      The PTB are putting public health and education on the line.

                      I’ve had Covid. I’ve known 50+ people who have had it. I work at a warehouse. Only 2 have been in the hospital. I know of 1 death. In each case the people were obese and the one that died was over 50 and the other long term recovery had heart problems and asthma. Most of us had a cold and came back after the quarantine. I was asymptomatic. I imagine most of the 400+ people I work with have had this virus.

          2. Gregory Etchason

            If you are going to ever be around people indoors for prolonged periods you should get vaccinated. Vaccinated people can carry the virus. It just won’t be a significant viral load It doesn’t mean you won’t get sick just not as sick. Honestly I’m retired and am sheltered in place out of choice. But I would NOT return to a workplace until I could verify everyone has been vaccinated.

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith Post author

              It’s not “carry the virus”. That implies they have it and are contagious all the time.

              It’s that they can still get Covid and infect others. You say that but please be more careful about your use of terms.

              Reply
      2. The Pale Scot

        Every infected animal is an unguided experiment for the virus, like monkeys typing. I don’t know where the idea that viruses become less virulent as time goes on. Certainly didn’t happen to Small Pox, Measles or Ebola. More likely treatments become more effective resulting in less harm. Flu viruses are unstable enough to mutate themselves away (Spanish Flu). In the big picture there are models that indicate that a quick killing virus will die out simply because victims are dead before they can effectively shed large amounts virions so theoretically the disease will moderate. That goes out the window when there is a large reservoir of unidentified asymptomatic infected people. Every infection results in billions of virions being created, each an individual genetic experiment. Despite the optimistic talk that COVID has a slow rate of mutations, quantity has a quality all it’s own. 130 million infected globally times billions of virions made in each individual are a countless number of experiments.

        A none significant number of young previously healthy people are getting intubated. Coolidge athletes that tested positive but were asymptomatic are presently lung and heart anomalies. Some of the vaccinated will get infected, some of those will shed. But the number of experiments/mutations will go down the more widespread vaccinations become, making it less likely that a more harmful variant will emerge.

        Don’t let perfection be the obstacle to effective. Get vaccinated and keep wearing surgical masks. You won’t get sick, and there’s little chance of you infecting someone else

        Reply
        1. Larry Gilman

          Well said. It’s simple: we should just get the damn vaccine, not because the demigods of authority say so but because the scientific data are copious, supportive, and publicly available. Complaints that we are being told to obey blindly baffle me: the opposite is true. Studies are being released daily into the peer-reviewed literature, and reported in the scientific and general press, on every aspect of vaccine efficacy and safety. The journal Nature summarizes key papers as they appear: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00502-w Also of current note: “CDC Real-World Study Confirms Protective Benefits of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines” — https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p0329-COVID-19-Vaccines.html . The information problem is glut, not dearth.

          Reply
          1. IM Doc

            I would love if someone – anyone – in our federal agencies or media could begin to explain this to the American public rationally and without panic or fear or crying.

            I am not seeing it. What I see is chaos, confusion, walk backs, lies, statistical contortions and distortions. I get to listen to my patients every day, many very bright people, struggle with this and what they should do.

            I never dreamed I would live to see the day that our CDC and other agencies were such a cluster. I literally heard the very same official say something on one station today and the exact opposite on another station.

            It has been gross incompetence. I was looking forward to this getting better with Biden. I am seeing no indication that is happening.

            Reply
            1. neo-realist

              To Biden’s credit, he did authorize the national production act and got the pharmaceutical companies to start producing vaccines en masse, which is more than can be said of the previous administration.

              Reply
      3. Stephen Bunnell

        I am an academic immunologist with no ties to industry. Vaccines of this type have been in development, in small trials, for more than decade. There is no evidence that they cause autoimmune disease. Their large scale rollout has been accelerated by urgent need, and testing was facilitated by the enormous number of people getting sick. (It’s hard to test a vaccine for something when essentially no one gets it anyway; hence you can’t test an Ebola vaccine in Albuquerque.) The vaccines we have have been tested in more patients than most vaccines. There is no reason to expect them to be unusually dangerous.

        The vaccine does *nothing* to you that isn’t done worse, and to a greater extent, by the virus. The average fatality rate for those that catch COVID is ~0.8%, but for older people it is more than 10%. Among people getting the vaccine, the rate of deaths *from all causes* is about 0.002%, or 1 in 50,000 during a 2 month monitoring period. The number of people you would expect to die *from all causes* in that period of time is about 0.13%. There some bias there, because we don’t vaccinate people already at death’s door from cancer, etc., but still, there is virtually no measurable risk of death from the vaccine.

        The protection offered by vaccination is also much more potent than the protection of people who have been infected. There are effectively no downsides to vaccination.

        Every time the virus makes a new copy of itself, it might make a new variant. More virus = more chances = more variants. More infected people = more variants. More viruses per person also = more variants.

        1. If I do not take the vaccine can a variant arise in me that puts others at risk?

        YES, absolutely. Not only could you transmit the virus to others, you would increase the risk of new variants arising (by increasing the number of viruses around)

        2. Even if people take the vaccine, and they can still get Covid, can a variant arise in them that puts us at risk?

        If they take the vaccine, they are probably ~80% or more protected from infection, and even if they do get infected, they’ll keep the virus under control, and are at least 50-100x less likely to die. This also reduces the risk of new variants arising, because they will have fewer viruses per person. They are orders of magnitude less likely to give rise to a new variant than an unvaccinated person.

        3. Why are these variants arising, seemingly so many of them, that appear to be more virulent than the last, when the normal course of any particular virus seems to be, that the variants are generally less virulent than the original?

        Variants are arising quickly because there is a lot of virus. Mutations happen at a certain rate per viral particle, so it’s a direct link. To prevent variants all you can do is prevent or limit the severity of infection. Your only options are social controls or vaccines (or, and you don’t want this, herd immunity).

        Viruses *DO NOT* generally evolve to be less virulent. They evolve to replicate better, because if they replicate better, they’ll outgrow the original virus. This is happening now. We already have variants that have escaped natural immunity and can reinfect people for COVID round #2. Not good. But so far, most variants don’t escape the strong protection offered by vaccines. Unfortunately, that can’t hold over time, if the virus keeps circulating at high levels.

        There is a limit: if a virus kills everything it can infect, it’s at a dead end. It’ll reduce the population density so far that the virus can’t propagate among the remaining isolated populations. Think cities closing their gates to travelers during the Black Plague. At this point, viruses with high mortality kill off their local community, and die out. Less virulent viruses don’t kill everyone off, and survive. Trust me, that’s not a route we, as a species, want to take.

        To prevent virulent variants, we need to effectively eliminate transmission (by social actions) or contagion (by vaccination). That’s what we’ve got.

        Every person that remains unvaccinated increases the risk of generating a new variants that will put us right back at the start of a new pandemic. Get vaccinated. For the common good. And for your own. And your family, and coworkers. The risk reward is enormously favorable, by orders of magnitude, for every single human that does not have one of a very small list of preexisting conditions.

        Best,

        Reply
    2. clarky90

      Re; “And then I was like, I’d rather take my chances.”

      Old film of London, England in the summer of 1967. Added in sound for ambiance and worked on color scheme. Thanks to British Pathe

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zk0eyKzp1c

      Look at/for yourselves, at what the innovative brainiacs have done to our body’s shapes AND our to our blessed chipperness (sprightliness). All in my lifetime.

      These are not movies of nomadic hunter-gatherers, but Western people earlier in the roll-out of the “miracles of chemistry”.

      IMO, lose weight, get lots of exercise, get lot of sunshine on your bare skin, get lots of zinc……

      “Obesity And Covid Death Rate Closely Linked In New Study”

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/jemimamcevoy/2021/03/04/obesity-and-covid-death-rate-closely-linked-in-new-study/?sh=78f26945643e

      This grey-rhinoceros in the room, is never mentioned, is it?

      Reply
    3. KFritz

      Here’s the title of an article from the NCBI website about possible negative side-effects of the vaccines for people with auto-immune disorders. (The linking tool doesn’t work for me) Any observations or comments about it would be welcome!

      Do COVID-19 RNA-based vaccines put at risk of immune-mediated diseases? In reply to “potential antigenic cross-reactivity between SARS-CoV-2 and human tissue with a possible link to an increase in autoimmune diseases”

      Reply
  2. Cameron

    It’s depressing to me that so many people think a ‘vaccine passport’ is some sort of infringement on their rights. I grew up overseas, and I remember having to have an orange/yellow booklet that listed….all the diseases I had been vaccinated for. Places wouldn’t let you in without it, and rightly so. And that was 60 years ago.

    Reply
    1. Fraibert

      No foreigner has a legal right to enter a foreign nation. Nations can set whatever entry requirements they want as part of their sovereignty.

      At least in free societies, all citizens generally share the same basic bundle of important legal rights. Vaccine passports threaten to divide citizens into those with different bundles of rights.

      Reply
          1. Starry Gordon

            In many parts of the US, at least, you do pretty much have to drive if you need to go to a job, store, office, medical practitioner, and so on. Or I suppose you could hitchhike. This is why drivers’ licenses have become a kind of internal passport. In theory one could get out on a bicycle, but outside of big cities you’re risking your life since many drivers cannot discern objects smaller than a small car — this is why you see motorcyclists riding with their headlights on and open pipes. Car country is weird, when you think about it, and most people are caught there.

            Reply
          2. The Pale Scot

            You don’t have to go to a particular store, club or any other close contact social setting. There will be stores that cater to the unvaccinated, or shop online.

            You don’t have to be employed at any particular job. Get a gig job and serve other unvaccinated people.

            With individual rights come social responsibilities

            Reply
          3. Massinissa

            I second Starry. My state has no major public transportation outside the most urban areas in Atlanta. The rest of the state has no other transportation, and driving is much cheaper than going to work via Uber.

            Reply
      1. nick

        “At least in free societies, all citizens generally share the same basic bundle of important legal rights. Vaccine passports threaten to divide citizens into those with different bundles of rights.”

        I don’t think the “generally” really stretches this statement to the point that it is accurate. Many important legal rights are denied in the USA and other places on earth that aspire to be a free society on the basis of e.g. age, incarceration status, and in fact record of receiving certain approved vaccinations. The covid vaccines are as of now not among these approved vaccinations (rather, they are authorized for emergency use). Varying bundles of rights are inevitable and useful arguments need to be about what should be denied and on what basis.

        Reply
        1. Fraibert

          While true, I think this misses the main point of my initial comment. Requiring vaccination records to enter a foreign country is a wholly different creature than arguing that you need such records to simply go buy food or get on the train to go to work.

          Reply
          1. Larry Gilman

            “Requiring vaccination records to enter a foreign country is a wholly different creature than arguing that you need such records to simply go buy food or get on the train to go to work.”

            One does not “simply go buy food or get on the train”: one simply goes to buy food or get on the train and, if unvaccinated, unnecessarily exposes everyone else who has gone to buy food or get on the train to higher risk of catching a potentially fatal disease. I think there is no obvious, general right to unnecessarily endanger others, or to keep them ignorant of whether they are being so endangered.

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            1. Adrien R Nash

              ” and, if unvaccinated, unnecessarily exposes everyone else… to a higher risk of catching a potentially fatal disease.”

              You don’t seem to comprehend what “unnecessarily” means. It is inappropriate in that statement which you intended to be logical, but it is not logical. In its place should be the word you also used: “potentially“, which accompanies “a higher risk…” along with “potentially fatal”. See what you’ve built? A house of cards built up of mere possibilities that are totally unquantifiable!
              Ask yourself this: exactly how much higher of a risk does an uninfected, mask-wearing unvaccinated person pose to others??? Is it 90%? Is it 10%? Is it 1%? Is it 0%? Neither you nor anyone else can answer that question because the entire subject is entangled in a morass of statistical imaginings…not based on the condition of any specific individual.
              Your approach is to apply statistical generalities to specific individuals as if they are NOT individuals who may be immune naturally to Covid. That is anti-logical. As is the avoidance of the actual risk factors regarding its potential lethality, namely: OBESITY! …along with other personally-perpetuated chronic conditions, and the added one of simple old age.
              Why not put the responsibility for avoiding infection on those who are the only ones at risk? Why is it placed as a huge burden on all of the rest of society (including children) when that demographic is not at risk of fatal complications and death? We will get no answers to these questions because the powers-that-be will not allow them to be asked.

              We are in a new age…the age of obedient sheep lining up to be shorn of their individual liberty….trading liberty for security…and as Benjamin Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

              Reply
              1. Yves Smith Post author

                You’ve got a lot of issues tangled up here.

                First, I agree masks complicate the tradeoffs. However, we also have huge variability in mask effectiveness (N95s down to slap in the face open mesh “masks” I’ve seen deployed in buildings here that require masks as a condition of entry. Wearer made a lame-ass excuse about asthma when even the official asthma org issued a statement that masks are completely safe for people with asthma). I see way way too many people who wear them below their noses, and even sometimes pull them down when speaking!!!!

                And that’s before you get to mask refusniks.

                Second, however, you need to read up a lot more on Covid. The issue is not just deaths. There is considerable evidence of many people incurring other forms of damage, from Long Covid to smoker-level lung scarring to brain inflammation to heart and kidney damage. Some of this might reverse with time but we have no proof it will.

                Third, studies outside the US (large scale) have shown that children are a big Covid transmission vector. That establishes something else you don’t want to acknowledge: that people with asymptomatic cases can and do infect others.

                The offset, which I really don’t like at all, is these vaccines were approved only under an EUA. And I don’t like the hype. But the EUA status makes it impossible for officials and organizations to require vaccinations (like requiring children to be vaccinated as a condition of attending school) which is why this has become such a charged issue.

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              2. skippy

                Groan what a libertarian screed that presents ideology as logic via authoritarian predisposition.

                Masks are a preventive measure regardless of effectiveness, better still, they advance a collective public attitude to dealing with the personal, family, and greater social dynamic in the here and now and into the future E.g. Covid is just sign of whats on offer moving forward.

                Are we really still debating the conditions that allow say cholera because of freedoms aka markets thingy …

                Reply
              3. Basil Pesto

                *chef’s kiss* that paedophrasty towards the end there is like a rancid cherry atop that bilge cocktail of a post.

                Incidentally, it’s rants like this that cause people to – justifiably, frankly – tune out and roll their eyes whenever ~the powers that be~ are invoked. You’re ruining it for those that use it in a less tacky way!!

                Reply
      2. marym

        Schools in the US require proof of vaccination. Also, as I commented yesterday, I haven’t found a lot of specific information, but it seems that its business (airlines, sports venues) pushing for vaccine passports.

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        1. flora

          I think it’s big tech pushing those airlines and sports and entertainment venues to require vax proofs, using the ‘promise’ that this will increase paying customers to patronize their businesses. (It would certainly increase big tech’s business. ;) ) Big tech went to them, not the other way around, from what I’ve read. IBM went to Gov. Cuomo, for example.

          Reply
        2. Yves Smith Post author

          No, you have that wrong with a vaccination approved only under a Emergency Use Authorization. It’s a violation of Federal law to require use. Taking a medication pursuant to an EUA is strictly voluntary.

          It would be different if these vaccines had gotten a normal approval but they have not yet and it will be years before they could under a Biologics License Application.

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          1. marym

            Yes, I’ve learned now from your comments that it wouldn’t actually be legal to require vaccinations whoever may be advocating for development or use of passports.

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            1. Yves Smith Post author

              It takes years for full regulatory approval. The fastest that has every occurred for a vaccine is 4 years and that was another one they wanted approved pronto. STAT described how one phase that normally takes IIRC 4-6 months and a large team was done in 2-3 weeks with 2 people with the EUA. One step that was utterly skipped was verifying the data in the clinical trial, which is a big process. They check to see that everyone listed as in the trial actually matches what the applicant said about them.

              So even two years would be heroic.

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      3. Kasia

        The vaccine passport is best seen as a psyops to get upper middle class people to opt-in on the vaccine. The problem with a vaccine passport is that no one knows how long the protection given by a vaccine will last. Israel has recently ordered 36 million doses to cover the worst case scenario that their entire population of 9 million will have to be revaccinated every six months. So how will this vaccine passport constantly be updated?

        There is currently a similar debate going on within EU circles and the latest proposal included three ways to travel: proof of a vaccine, proof of antibodies (for those who have had Covid), or a negative Covid test. All three are far from proof positive of not spreading the virus.

        For people at high risk, I have no problem with the vaccine. But I am far from convinced it is a good idea for healthy, non-obese younger people, let alone children, to take it. Given its very limited side effects on young people and children, I’ve always seen the coronavirus itself as a sort of vaccine for that segment of the population. Once all the vulnerable people have been protected by vaccines, why not give young people who want it controlled amounts of the coronavirus itself to help create presumably much better natural immunity than the artificial immunity created by the vaccine?

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        1. cocomaan

          Israel has recently ordered 36 million doses to cover the worst case scenario that their entire population of 9 million will have to be revaccinated every six months. So how will this vaccine passport constantly be updated?

          Not only this, but what is the effect of repeat doses?

          If I take an mRNA vaccine every year for 10 years, what will happen?

          Does anyone know? Could hacking my immune system cause long term damage when it’s done repeatedly?

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          1. JEHR

            Dr. John Campbell has compiled various videos about all aspects of all the vaccines that may alleviate fears about taking the vaccines.

            I have been viewing these videos for about a year now and find them very helpful as they are very straight-forwardly scientific and not ideological, national or religious. What we need is the truth without the baggage and I think these videos approach that goal very well.

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        2. Larry Gilman

          “Given its very limited side effects on young people and children, I’ve always seen the coronavirus itself as a sort of vaccine for that segment of the population.”

          Re. “very limited side effects,” you might wish to reconsider, at least as regards young adults: “Young adults age 18 to 34 years hospitalized with COVID-19 experienced substantial rates of adverse outcomes: 21% required intensive care, 10% required mechanical ventilation, and 2.7% died. This in-hospital mortality rate is lower than that reported for older adults with COVID-19, but approximately double that of young adults with acute myocardial infarction. ” — https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2770542 Nor are hospitalizations of the young for COVID rare — see, e.g., Fig. 2 of this CDC report: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e2.htm?s_cid=mm6912e2_w See also “Why 32% Of Young Adults Are Vulnerable To Severe Covid-19 Coronavirus Infections”: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2020/07/14/why-32-of-young-adults-are-vulnerable-to-severe-covid-19-coronavirus-infections/?sh=57686dfd5b59

          “[W]hy not give young people who want it controlled amounts of the coronavirus itself to help create presumably much better natural immunity than the artificial immunity created by the vaccine?”

          Are you saying there is some method of infecting people with live coronavirus that reliably doesn’t cause disease or causes only mild disease? If so, what are your sources for the claims that (a) such a method exists and (b) would produce better immunity than existing coronavirus vaccines?

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    2. flora

      If by “places” you mean “countries”, well sure. I still have my yellow vaccination card for international travel. However, if you mean home country businesses and public buildings, well no. Tony Blair’s shilling sounds more a threat than a reasonable presentation. NY’s gov Cuomo talking about IBM’s ‘excelsior’ passport to enter restaurants, theaters, and other NY businesses sounds more like a threat than a reasonable discussion of pros and cons. (Looking at the charts above it looks like somewhere between 70-80% of people want to take the vaccine and that level should provide a good level of herd immunity once reached if the vaccines actually work as advertised, so a vax passport isn’t needed in this country to go about normal life, imo.)

      https://twitter.com/DamoPelham3/status/1376712555385614337

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    3. IM Doc

      As far as the family members I have talked to they could care less about passports and foreign travel.

      We use the word passport unfortunately in our conversation today about entering stores restaurants and events. A restriction of buying and selling. That is their concern – and it is in black and white in the 13th chapter of the revelation of St. John.

      And FYI also ingrained in this theology is the concept that this will be a time of great coercion.

      These Bobos in our public health leadership have truly hit all the marks. Having grown up in it,
      I often get triggered when I hear theses officials talking.

      The whole foreign travel issue means nothing to them. They view it as just one more way the elites are condescending. So continuing to talk about that issue further by the national media will just drive the wedge further. But when do they care about that?

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      1. cocomaan

        I do some work in Amish land in central PA, including Lancaster city and some in York. As a result, I often do shopping and errands out there, since things are much cheaper than in the collar counties around Philadelphia.

        The sentiment you describe is exactly the sentiment among the amish, mennonites, evangelicals, and even marginally religious people in these areas.

        A vaccine passport will not be used, will not be asked for at establishments, and won’t matter in these areas. It will be a non issue. These people will treat it as if it doesn’t exist. I guarantee that it will be a point of pride to burn your vaccine card here. That includes the municipal governments, who are holding local meetings unmasked and in person and have been for many months. People still bring guns to municipal meetings out there.

        These people do not believe that Covid is all that much of a problem, a year on. It is a different reality than when I go into the philly suburbs, where people are compliant and always masked.

        In terms of vaccine uptake, in this central PA area the hospitals allegedly have so many doses sitting around that they are letting just about anyone who wants one to take one.

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      2. Anonapet

        I’m a Christian and take the Bible, including Revelation, seriously but my take is that the Mark of the Beast is a loyalty signifier to some world leader, not simply taking an injection or swallowing a pill.

        My concern is I don’t want MY ENTIRE BODY to be GMO’d by a “vaccine” when my understanding is that Covid does not necessarily affect one’s entire body. Otoh, I might take a conventional vaccine consisting of dead or weakened Covid viruses.

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        1. Larry Gilman

          “My concern is I don’t want MY ENTIRE BODY to be GMO’d by a ‘vaccine’ . . .”

          If I thought that was happening I wouldn’t want the vaccine either, but that is not what is happening. The mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna do not modify the DNA of any of the cells in your body. They give you bits of “messenger RNA” that are instructions for making molecules (bits of protein) similar to those found on the COVID-19 virus. Some of your cells use these instructions to make the protein. Your immune system then learns to attack that protein — or anything that it’s attached to, like a COVID-19 virus particle, should one happen to show up.

          Full explanation here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html

          There is no alteration of your DNA by the vaccine. Your reluctance to have every cell in your body genetically altered is quite reasonable — but the vaccines for COVID-19 do not do that.

          Reply
          1. Justin

            The central dogma of molecular biology (DNA->RNA->protein) only applies to proteins. As far as anyone knows, you can’t go backwards to DNA or RNA from protein. RNA most certainly can become DNA via reverse transcription, and it is possible our “junk” DNA may have come about through such a process.

            Whether or not this happens in vivo is another story, but even that it conceivably could is reason enough for caution.

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            1. Justin

              I should add that DNA is far more fluid than most people realize. Your own will change considerably over a lifetime, nonwithstanding our rudimentary understanding of gene expression and deactivation. Learning and memory, for example, are very likely preceeded by changes to DNA itself.

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        2. Stephen Bunnell

          Larry Gilman is entirely correct. Also consider that viruses also enter your cells, inject genetic material (RNA or DNA) into them, and hijack their normal function. When this happens viral proteins get made that impair your immune response. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do *more* to protect you by doing *less* to manipulate your cells than the virus. Their vaccines cause the production of the one viral protein that the virus uses to enter your cells, without any of the other bits the virus uses to replicate. Consequently, these vaccines do not interfere with your normal immune response to this new protein in the same way that the normal virus does.

          Reply
      3. Lambert Strether

        > the 13th chapter of the revelation of St. John.

        This is the passage to which IM Doc refers:

        11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon….

        16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

        17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

        18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

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    4. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t think this is an entirely unreasonable reservation given that none of the vaccines were subjected to the regular drug approval process. In the US, the regulatory basis for use is an Emergency Use Authorization, which historically has been invoked only for very small numbers of desperately ill, usually terminal, cases.

      And the EUA explicitly says use is voluntary. Compulsion is a no-no.

      See this write-up of an article from STAT, the antithesis of a vaccine alarmist, on some of the corners-cutting (scroll down, it comes later in the post):

      https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/12/covid-the-politicization-of-science-and-more-questions-about-the-pfizer-vaccine-approval.html

      Reply
  3. Kasia

    Yes, Christian Nationalism is a ridiculous term. I follow the alternative right closely and there actually are a very few thinkers who believe Christianity could be a basis for American nationalism or for European ethnocentrism. But their references and arguments are totally weak since Christianity is undoubtedly a universalist religion, as is Islam where nationalism doesn’t really stick either. In contrast, Judaism is a parochial, particularist religion (we are the Chosen Few) but with the brilliant twist of imposing a universalist God so that all must recognize this phenomenon of being choosen! Therefore, Jewish Nationalism and Jewish ethnocentrism fit perfectly within the Judaic faith. Although some of the Eastern Orthodox Christian faiths do fit fairly well with their local nationalisms, true European ethnocentrists realize that the indigenous forms of Paganism are a better religious foundation for European nationalism/ethnocentrism.

    What is rising in secular America is a form of theistic Scientism. With the faith vacuum created by the decline of Christianity, in its place Science rushes in to fill the void and becomes the One. Science becomes an immanent Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and of course Omniscience. When disasters strike, it is a sign of the wrath of Science. And a priesthood is formed of “Scientists”, who proclaim the Scientific “truth” to the believers.

    The reality is that the concept of truth does not exist in science. Falsifying hypotheses is the goal of science and so a skeptical point of view is critical. What’s interesting about Covid is that there is even less science than usual to guide decisions.

    But given how divided America is, science or no science, the two sides will always fall on either side of any dividing line. The Voter ID/Vaccination Passport debate is an interesting example of where at least at first glance, people should really be on the same side of both of these questions. When Trump was pushing Operation Warpspeed there was plenty of vaccine-skepticism being expressed by establishment goodthinkers.

    In Europe there is currently deep skepticism, that has nothing to do with religious sentiment, about the vaccine among those people not at immediate risk. It reminds me of European skepticism to genetically modified food crops. What’s interesting is that nations that have had really bad starts to the pandemic, like the US and UK are near the top of the list in vaccine rollouts, while Japan and South Korea, which up until now have had stellar pandemics, are totally lagging on vaccines. I find their wait and see approach wise, although it is their earlier great performance during the pandemic that allows them this current flexibility.

    Reply
    1. flora

      Yes, I couldn’t figure out what the term “Christian nationalism” even means. Is it some new dog whistle? Shorthand for “newly discovered terrierist group”? Public schools asked us to pledge allegiance to the flag every morning when I was in grade school. Do we have scary “nationalist” public schools? /ha. Our tech would-be overlords are clueless.

      Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Oh, come on. The US section is laughable. Anti abortionists are Christian nationalists? Seriously?

          This comes off like a crappy high school research paper.

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          1. John Anthony La Pietra

            Would it feel/sound better if the term were “Christian-nation-ists” — to describe people who believe that their country is a “Christian nation” which does or should have and enforce national laws based on (their view of) Christianity?

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    2. Alex Cox

      “What is rising in secular America is a form of theistic Scientism.” An excellent observation. And like the other religions theistic Scientism is fundamentally dangerous since scientists don’t agree on everything, don’t know all the answers, and are sometimes disastrously wrong.

      Reply
    3. FluffytheObeseCat

      The author of this posted article in The Conversation did not originate the term “Christian nationalism”. She linked to an article in The Guardian that includes the term in the sub header below the title of their article, because it is term employed by the Christian pastors they were reporting on. From the Guardian article:
      More than 100 prominent evangelical Christian pastors and church leaders have spoken out against what they call the “perversion” of Christian nationalism…. [their] letter, first reported by NPR, notes that the evangelical community in the US has long been susceptible to the “heresy” of Christian nationalism – the belief that the country is fundamentally Christian and run by and for white conservative Americans…..

      So in sum, the author above is quoting an article, that quotes a group of Christian pastors, who appear to have coined this term, and who very clearly define what they mean by it in their letter. Their letter is linked to in the Guardian article. If you find the term incomprehensible and silly your argument is with them, not the reporting. They used it repeatedly – with vigor – throughout the text of their letter.

      As defined by these clerics I have no trouble with the term. I’ve lived in the U.S. “heartland” for 35 years now – from Louisiana, to Nevada, to Ohio – and I’ve had plenty of encounters with pride-mad, surficially all-American apple pie types who start blurting out this kind of vile baloney once they think they are safe with you. It’s quite a real thing and plenty common. Just because these sort of slick labels are also beloved by the Hillary Clinton and Neera Tanden crowd doesn’t make this poisonous ideology any less real, vile, anti-Christian, and inimical to our nation.

      Reply
      1. Kasia

        I’ve read the letter. This is simply a case of Christian Globalists conducting a PR campaign in order to virtue signal and clear their brand name. Note that there are 2.3 billion Christians in the world. What these Christian Globalists define as “Christian Nationalism” are people who presumably want Christianity to be the state religion of the US. This tendency would be better referred to as Christian Supremacy. Notice that they do not give one example of a supposed Christian Nationalist preacher.

        There are 600 million Christians in both Africa and Latin America. Evangelical Christian leaders almost to a preacher want access to this strategic reserve of docile fresh worshipping meat. A wealthy society like the US leads its native population towards secularization and a rejection of religion. Closing the borders through Christian Nationalism would lead to “Peak Christianity” in the US with ever declining numbers of the faithful. So open border liberals and conservative evangelicals are both on the very same globalist side of the mass immigration debate.

        Reply
  4. Fraibert

    I’m fascinated at the linguistic conflation of “Christian nationalist” and “white evangelical.” I think the author is trying to show her wokeness and undermining the real point that generally speaking evangelicals are skeptical for various reasons. I certainly don’t see proof that “Christian nationalism” is the cause of the skepticism.

    I suppose it’s just a way of ingratiating herself with the current mores of academia. Subpar argumentation is okay in service of the right cause.

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    1. William Hunter Duncan

      Christian Nationalism is a phrase mostly used by people who are not evangelical. At the same time, my mom is evangelical and she is “Nationalist” and most of the people she knows are, to various degrees, though I am certain none of them ever use that phrase. It is indeed an academic construction from people trying to understand a thing they don’t really.

      Otherwise what these academics are lamely describing is a very real thing, and it can be virulent, though I suspect on balance most of them would pick their capitalist consumerism before Christian Nationalism, and would never use the latter to put the former at risk knowingly.

      Reply
    2. flora

      Former VP Mike Pence is an evangelical. Maybe “Christian nationalist” is the new woke shorthand for T voter. Not that anyone is trying to politicize C-19. /heh

      Reply
    3. David

      I think an influential (near) contemporary observer deserves to be heard on the question:

      “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28

      Reply
  5. divadab

    It seems to me that in the more conservative States (and the more conservative areas in Blue States), people have come to the conclusion that the risk of the disease if they get it is low, and if they get it, and get better, then they will be immune. How else to explain North Dakota’s (for example) cumulative incidence rate of 13,555 per 100k population (this means almost 14% of the population has tested positive!)? If you consider all the people who had low or no symptom infections, this means perhaps 28% or more of the population of ND has had the disease. Why get vaccinated if you have had the actual disease?

    I had a covid-19 test at the Mayo Pharmacy in Bismarck in early March, and I asked the pharmacist about this. He said, yes, they did a lot of antibody testing before Thanksgiving and Christmas last year, and a surprising percentage tested positive for antibodies. (sorry – he didn’t venture a figure). And he had vaccine available as did many smaller centers in ND. So this may not be ideological (and I’m quite suspicious about articles that blame Evangelical Xtianity as there are dividing agendas that like to define conservative religious people as “others” and to degrade the faithful), but rather based in a practical calculation, combined with a general distrust of the corporatist cartel-controlled government. (I mean, I distrust the corrupted corporatist cartel government – if Fauci said it was raining outside, I would open a window and check, such is his duplicity and unreliability).

    This approach is widespread – just go into a rural sawmill or logging supply store, and count the masks – often it is ZERO! They deal with high risks daily (tree felling is a dangerous job, with a risk of death or severe injury higher than covid if you are under 60) – and calculate that even if they get covid, their job is riskier than covid, and on a daily, weekly, and lifetime basis. To them, covid-19 is a walk in the park.

    We shall see how the thing rolls on but one thing is clear – this pandemic has revealed the incompetence and corruption of many of our public institutions. Why should people believe a word of what Fauci and the media say? Are they not paid liars in large part? Why should people trust the untrustworthy? “Trust the Science” does not mean believe Fauci – he’s not a scientist, he’s a political actor, a very successful one, in a corrupt system. And the science is really not yet well-established on covid-19 – we don;t even know how long antibody immunity will last – and the pharmaceutical cartel see ongoing profits in casting doubts in this regard.

    But no let’s rather cast blame on an identifiable group who can be othered. This is how the USA is run, apparently – divide and rule.

    Reply
    1. Tom Pfotzer

      Very well-said. This is my experience as well. As I state below, I live on the blue-red edge, in an area that has rural/ag elements living alongside high-intensity Empire operations.

      If I go to the (one) gas station that supplies the farmers, I see way fewer masks. These folks live tough lives, and are a little contemptuous of the folks with “face-diapers” on. They surely don’t trust the motives nor dictates of government.

      I used to think they were nutters. Now I don’t. I have little in common with these people politically, but I sure don’t think they’re dumb. They might be “righter” than I am, and I admire some of their motivation (defend your freedoms, and don’t let politicians get you by the tail).

      It’d be easy to over-rule those perspectives if the solutions set out were well-researched and clearly expressed. But – as we are all gradually coming to see – the situation is complex and evolving, and we don’t trust the policy-makers. They look and act corrupt – on this issue as well as most others where there’s money to be made, such as foreign policy, energy policy, crime, health care, economic and monetary policy…pretty much the waterfront.

      Reply
  6. Tom Pfotzer

    I think the label “Christian Nationalism” is appropriate and reasonable. Here are a few of the themes – easily recognized – that express and reinforce this Christian Nationalism:

    a. “The U.S. was founded by and for Christians. It’s in the constitution”
    b. “One country, under God” (unspoken, but implied: Christian God)
    c. “immigration is bad because it brings in lots of people that don’t believe as we do, and abide our customs. It diffuses our culture”

    That says “nationalism” and it says “Christian” to me. The themes I cited above commonly reverberate across a large portion of our population, with emphasis on the “red” areas (not states, but regions. Think “purple states, for ex). I live in a purple state, and frequently travel away from the “blue” areas. The radio broadcast content changes dramatically as soon as you leave the blue areas’ signal coverage. The “red” content – quite nearly exclusive, too – no NPR, no C-SPAN, no progressive /liberal content, music, discussion, etc. – and that “red” content tracks pretty well along the lines set out by the author of this piece. There is a massive, jarring, entrenched and well-mobilized fault line.

    Conservatives recognize this, and ride the pony well. Nixon (“southern strategy”) , Reagan (“silent majority”), the Bushes (Karl Rove and the “wedge issue”) and then Trump (“they left you behind, I’m here to restore you to your rightful place”) have all developed and exacerbated this fault line.

    The political calculus of each of those administrations was based on the question “who is the trusted institution that these people will follow?” and also “how can we get that institution on our side?”. Turns out that institution was “religion” – not just any religion, but Christian religion. The more fervent, the better.

    Coincident with this policy of cultivating Christian Religion as the fulcrum/lever of politics, there was a concerted effort by the conservatives – over decades – to buy up radio stations and local newspapers in the “red” areas and use them as conduits. They were cheap (relatively) and very effective.

    We are reaping the rewards of decades of very thoughtful policy. That “Christian Nationalism” has been cultivated and developed a long time. I think it’s quite real.

    Reply
    1. Mr Grumpy

      Agree completely. I am quite surprised at the responses that haven’t heard the term or ideas, or poo-poo it’s existence. I’ve known about this for years. It’s not just an idea of academia. I think it may reflect the pervasive all-encompassing mainstream Christian flooding of society. When the sea all around you is murky you miss out on many details.

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    2. Fraibert

      At least for my part, whether “Christian nationalism” exists or not isn’t my issue. My issue is that the article doesn’t coherently connect resistance to vaccination to “Christian nationalism.”

      Overall, the article leads with data that provides a breakdown of attitudes towards vaccination at the level of “white evangelical” and then proceeds to mostly discuss “Christian Nationalists.” This descriptor term is left undefined in this article, even though there apparently are academic definitions.

      This lack of any simplified layman’s definition is strange. The original site, The Conversation, presents itself as providing “Academic rigor, journalistic flair” and has a charter stating that one of its missions is to “Unlock the knowledge of researchers and academics to provide the public with clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems.” I don’t see any “Academic rigor” or “clarity and insight” being offered to the public from using a key term without any explanation.

      But, even worse, the article doesn’t tell us how many white evangelicals fall under the heading of “Christian nationalist” (whatever that term means for the purposes of the article–since the author left it for the reader to guess). If it’s 5%, “Christian nationalism” doesn’t seem to be the cause of evangelical skepticism and it wouldn’t even be logical to call it a serious “barrier” to vaccination. This missing connector is puzzling from a “scholar of religion and society” (in the author’s own terms).

      In any case, the author does cite a two articles that seem to reflect modest correlations between “Christian nationalism” (fairly rigorously defined in academic terms) and (1) unwillingness to take the vaccine and (2) “ignoring precautionary behaviors regarding coronavirus.” (Curiously, one of these articles was published in July 2020 without prior peer-review.) But the correlations are modest at best and, to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that living in a rural area or having less education have higher correlations. Overall, I’m not seeing that “Christian nationalism” is a material barrier to vaccination.

      It’s certainly plausible that “Christian nationalism” is a barrier to vaccination. But, in my judgment, it’s certainly not shown by the article.

      Moreover, because The Conversation presents itself as a popularizing site of academic ideas and there is no real academic rigor in the article itself (putting in a ton of links is not rigor–all it proves, absent substantive engagement in the article, is the author knows how to use search tools and read synopsis), I therefore feel it appropriate to read the author’s article like a normal piece intended for public consumption. Read through the lines, “White evangelicalism” and “Christian nationalism” are effectively equated because the author slips smoothly from a chart showing data on the first into a discussion of the second. This technique reflects rhetoric over substance.

      Reply
    3. Kasia

      I strongly disagree on this concept of Christian Nationalism. Let’s go through your three bullet points:

      a. “The U.S. was founded by and for Christians. It’s in the constitution”

      This may be truly how many people think but this is not Nationalism. This concept is more correctly labelled Christian Globalism in that means that anyone that identifies as Christian outside of the US has the right to immigrate. A kindly reminder that just about all of Latin America and much of Africa identify as Christian. Actual Nationalists do NOT want most of Latin America nor much of Africa immigrating to the US.

      b. “One country, under God” (unspoken, but implied: Christian God)

      Again, many people do think this but how is this nationalism? It could be a sort of American Exceptionalism but that concept goes hand in hand with American Imperialism. Remember Imperialism is the opposite of Nationalism. Ask Gandhi or Mandela.

      c. “immigration is bad because it brings in lots of people that don’t believe as we do, and abide our customs. It diffuses our culture”

      Immigration to the US is perhaps 70% Christian. And yet actual American Nationalists are dead set against Christian’s immigrating to the US. Remember pre-Trump that much immigration and refugee settlement was channeled through Christian churches. Evangelical and Catholic organizations fought tooth and nail against Trump’s attempted reduction in refugee acceptance. These Christian immigrants are quite often actual practicing Christians and not Christian-in-name-only as many Americans are. So many native stock “Christian-Americans” are falling into the nihilism of opiate abuse that the various Christian churches desperately need gullible, true-believing immigrants to keep attendance up.

      So no, in general Christians in America are globalists. The term Christian Globalists would be far more appropriate than Christian Nationalists.

      Reply
      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        It appears there are at least 100 American evangelical Christian pastors who do not agree that they need to knuckle under and adopt your strained neologism:

        This is the link to their letter, as referenced in the article above and reported on by The Guardian:
        https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScbvRNRgAcUo1UfZfxuBZHmv63FI8k2gnxxAaNVlCvsiG9xHw/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1&flr=0

        It has taken me very little time to reach the source material for this term. I’m hard put to understand why anyone commenting here didn’t take the time to find it and at least scan it before opining on the term and it’s supposed sources.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Argument from (supposed) authority. Not a valid form of argumentation. Does not rebut any of the points at issue.

          This simply appears to support Flora’s contention: “Former VP Mike Pence is an evangelical. Maybe “Christian nationalist” is the new woke shorthand for T voter. “

          Reply
        2. Fraibert

          Why should the reader have to do homework on a key concept in an article intended for consumption by the general public?

          Reply
      2. Basil Pesto

        ‘National Socialism’ isn’t really socialism, but most people can discern between the two, in broad terms.

        When I read about ‘Christian Nationalists’ in the intro, my working assumption was: “oh, that’s probably USians who want to remake the United States as a Christian nation instead of a secular one”, and that was borne out by Mr Pfotzer’s comment and some others. That’s maybe not ‘nationalism’ as we understand it for the reasons you point out, but I don’t think it really matters that much. Christian Nationalism is probably just a bit snappier than Christian Nation-alism? or Christian Nationism?

        Reply
        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          I tend to agree that “Christian Nationalism” snaps to the mind more readily. I think the problem is that “nationalism” already has a well-established meaning, so that putting an adjective in front of it can understandably make at least some readers think what’s meant is a peculiarly Christian form of the nationalism concept.

          If we want to be clearer that something else is intended, we may need a new word.

          Reply
  7. marym

    The portion of the radical religious right that participates in the wider political and economic sphere trusts science enough to drive cars, use computers, pay their electric bill, check the weather report, shoot a gun, go to the hospital if they’re sick or injured, and force invasive medical procedures on women seeking an obortion.

    Trying to overthrow an election to maintain one’s preferred politicians and party in power, or spreading a disease to people who are trying not to contract or spread it isn’t about some theoretical concept of liberty, or religion. These are worldly choices with worldly consequences.

    The radical religious right uses legitimate arguments about vaccine safety or government incompetence and corruption as instruments serving their version of an authoritarian, exclusionist worldly political agenda, just as neoliberals use exhortations about “the science” or “our democracy” to further theirs.

    Reply
    1. Sub-Boreal

      Your first paragraph reminded me of an observation about the relationship between Islamic fundamentalism and technology in V.S. Naipaul’s (1981) “Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey”.

      In early post-Shah Tehran, he was struck by ubiquitous presence of Western technology, coexisting with the most fanatical excesses of the revolution:

      “The hotel taxi driver could be helped through the evening traffic jams by the Koranic readings on his car radio; and when we got back to the hotel there would be mullahs on television. Certain modern goods and tools – cars, radios, televisions – were necessary; their possession was part of a proper Islamic pride. But these things were considered neutral; they were not associated with any particular faith or civilization; they were thought of as the stock of some great universal bazaar.”

      Similarly, the Christian fundamentalists can comfortably adopt cars, computers, electricity, weather forecasts, guns, and medical care because their access to those technologies is mediated by the “universal bazaar”, allowing them to exist – in their eyes – independently of the underlying systems of scientific knowledge which enabled their invention.

      Reply
    1. flora

      “getting rid of the Unvaccinated is not a question of ideology. It is a question of cleanliness,” …or something like that. (Did I read this in a history book? )

      Reply
      1. IM Doc

        I know exactly to what you refer –

        And so do my family members. And they are feeling it every day.

        Here is the thing that most people do not understand. They have been getting ready for what they perceive as their “time of trials” as long as I have been alive. (And hint – so have others – similar things are going on right now in Amish/Mennonite and even more rural Mormon communities – hell I have even heard Catholic patients say things that have frozen my eyeballs). It is not just the vaccine. They view their culture and their way of life as under full frontal assault.

        And who can blame them? Most of these people live in the exact same areas that our public health officials and medical establishment have let rot with opiates while the Sacklers were laughing their way to the bank. We have allowed their economy and jobs to be shipped overseas. We are now telling them – many of them as dirt poor as I have ever seen – get over it ass wipe – leave your white privilege at the door. We have all got to watch the spectacle of our culture this year celebrating WAP and gay rappers being sodomized by Satan while doing lap dances on a stripper pole to hell. All of this has been foretold by their spiritual leaders to be the signs to get ready – here it comes. And you just have to trust me – they are getting ready.

        The elites of this country can laugh and condescend and make fun and name-call all they want – it is being duly noted. They are completely ignoring you at this time.

        I have been a liberal Dem most of my adult life. I thought they represented the little guy and the common man. Those days are now over. The left wing in this country today seems to be congenitally unable to pull their heads out. I certainly am not enamored of the GOP. It is a true indication of where we are that our polity is getting worse as the need for it to be functional grows every day.

        I may not believe with my family anymore – but I can certainly see their perspective in life. How hard would it have been to find folks that understood them – and were able to talk to them at their level? I am afraid that time has passed. Trying to get their preachers on board at this late stage is LOL funny and is evidence of what I am talking about – these officials and pundits literally have no clue.

        This is not going to go down without a fight – and threats of coercion and authority are only going to make it worse. There is a reason that guns and ammunition have been selling like hotcakes for the past year or so. This is not going to be the same story as Nazi Germany and the Jewish people. I am sensing a much closer correlation to the French Revolution and the rot of the elites during that time frame.

        I may not like it – I may personally abhor it. But to ignore it, to try to talk over it, to try to sweet talk is just not going to work. To try to “woke” our way out of it like this article above is the last thing we should be doing. The sooner the officials learn that the better.

        Sorry about the rant. I have deep respect for my family members – even with how much I disagree with them. I feel strongly that their voices need to be heard in any conversation like this.

        Reply
        1. Bruce F

          To IM Doc, Thank you for continuing to comment here. Your professional opinions are hard to beat, but I appreciate the “personal” observations just as much as the medical ones.

          I hope you keep commenting here!

          Reply
          1. petal

            Yes, I wish I could buy IMDoc a beverage of their choice. Very grateful for their comments and observations!

            Reply
              1. Copeland

                Exactly what I was going to say.

                Thank you IMDoc! I always learn something when you comment.

                But there is no left, left in the USA. Most of the rest of the world would chuckle at the way the label “left wing” is commonly used in this country.

                Reply
                1. Elizabeth

                  Thank you IM Doc – I hope you keep ranting! Your perspective and wisdom are sorely needed, and we NCers are extremely fortunate.

                  Reply
          2. William Neil

            no need to apologize, its a homespun version of “Deer Hunting with Jesus.” Which was also first hand reporting on the urban-rural, liberal conservative religious divide.

            I tried a more abstract take on what is going on early today but Yves wasn’t buying any of it. Not surprised.

            Reply
        2. Jeremy Grimm

          I fell asleep in the middle 1970s and while I slept my country was stolen and replaced with an evil changeling.

          Reply
        3. Kurt Sperry

          This is not going to go down without a fight – and threats of coercion and authority are only going to make it worse. There is a reason that guns and ammunition have been selling like hotcakes for the past year or so. This is not going to be the same story as Nazi Germany and the Jewish people. I am sensing a much closer correlation to the French Revolution and the rot of the elites during that time frame.

          Sigh. Godwin is getting popular here of late. I guess that just happens when emotions overwhelm reason. And no, allowing private businesses at high risk of contagion choose to require vaccination proofs to protect their employees obviously isn’t remotely analogous to Jewish badges and extermination camps. If anything, the analog here is the “oppressed”* religious group asserting their righteous freedom to march into the death camps heads proudly held high.

          *hard to think of a less oppressed group than white evangelicals, who just had an entire Presidential Administration catering to them for four years.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Please stop misinforming readers.You really don’t get it given that these drugs have not gone through a full approval process.

            These drugs were approved only under an EUA. The EUA stresses that taking the medication is voluntary. Employers absolutely cannot require being vaccinated as a condition of employment. They could if they had been approved under a biologics license, but that would take way longer. This is from STAT, the antithesis of vaccine cautious:

            Federal law prohibits employers and others from requiring vaccination with a Covid-19 vaccine distributed under an EUA

            https://www.statnews.com/2021/02/23/federal-law-prohibits-employers-and-others-from-requiring-vaccination-with-a-covid-19-vaccine-distributed-under-an-eua/

            Reply
            1. Kurt Sperry

              Right, true. But I never said that employees could be compelled to be vaccinated did I? Only that customers might be compelled to show proof of vaccination to protect employees (and of course, other customers). Here’s a good explainer of why that will almost certainly be allowed under a broad set of circumstances-

              https://lawandcrime.com/covid-19-pandemic/vaccine-passports-can-legally-happen-heres-why/

              “I think that the national government could prohibit interstate travel (or travel on airplanes, buses, trains, or other modes of interstate travel) without proof of vaccination (perhaps subject to some reasonable exceptions),” Bowman continued. “The question again would be who instituted such limitations – i.e., president by executive order, agency by regulation, or Congress – and whether the mandating authority possessed the constitutional authority to do so. But that such a power resides in the national government, in general, seems reasonably plain to me.”

              As for “local restrictions,” Bowman doesn’t think the federal government would or could try to govern there.

              Private entities, however, are free to condition entry or use of services on compliance with a vaccine passport regime.

              “It certainly depends on the businesses,” attorney and legal analyst Ed Booth recently told Virginia-based ABC affiliate WVEC. “Let’s say in very broad terms, this could be viewed as sort of a ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’ kind of thing. Private enterprises have a certain amount of freedom to decide how they conduct their business.”

              The piece then goes on to note the performative but mistaken outrage from famous RWNJs Ron DeSantis and Tucker Carlson in response to the prospect of vaccine passports-

              “A private entity is entitled to do that, and a private business can have restrictions,” Florida Gulf Coast University Law Professor Pamella Seay told local NBC affiliate WBBH-TV in response to DeSantis’s statements. “If it’s a private venue and a private event, yes; you can make that requirement. But if there’s a public aspect to it no, you cannot.”

              DeSantis also promised to sign an executive order barring the use of vaccine passports for government services, buildings and property—but the impact of that order, while exceedingly ballyhooed by some conservatives, would actually be quite limited.

              Seay said the order simply wouldn’t apply to private enterprise.

              “A private entity is entitled to do that, and a private business can have restrictions,” she noted.

              Reply
              1. Yves Smith Post author

                The Feds weren’t willing to impose restrictions on interstate travel at the height of Covid. We aren’t even willing to impose quarantines with teeth anywhere in the US. It’s a total non starter now.

                On top of that, airports all over the US are operated under municipal authority. I can see Governor Santis ordering the shut down of, say, the Fort Lauderdale airport as a sighting shot to warn that Miami is next in the highly unlikely event that the Feds were to try.

                My attorney is quite clear this proposal not only runs afoul of Federal statues given the EUA status but anti-discrimination and privacy laws in many states and cities (medical treatments are regularly included so as to prevent discrimination against the HIV positive, and inquires about HIV status in routine settings). This is illegal in Denver under its city anti-discrimination statutes, for instance. There are already cases in the works. They have to have the right fact set to be viable, so it may take a while for the challenges to start, but they are coming.

                That assumes that they don’t fail from the business end, that the businesses find it costs them too much on the revenue side to be viable.

                Reply
                1. Adrien R Nash

                  The Feds didn’t and couldn’t impose interstate travel restrictions because of a lack of jurisdiction. Instead of looking at travel to or from states with high numbers of “cases” as being a federal issue, consider the issue of traveling across a state line in your own vehicle. Such travel has no connection at all to the federal government, and by extension, neither would the same cross-border travel by air. DC and the feds could limit only travel into DC and federal territories.

                  Reply
        4. FluffytheObeseCat

          Radical Christian revelationists have been getting ready for the time of trials since long before you were born. As you noted the Mennonite, Amish, and Mormons, I should note they are all cases in point; each group has been awaiting the End for a couple of centuries (I believe about 4 for the Anabaptist groups).

          Selected portions of John’s gospel are a handy tool for people who do not want the irritation of treating all men as their brothers in truth. That’s been true for generations. And that’s the truth about all this pseudo-Christian, chest beating hoopla today. Eagerly awaiting the End Times is a great way to evade the boredom, strain, and sorrows of life. It’s also a rotten-easy way to evade actually being a Christian. Having a thrilling ole freak out about a stupidly dirty song (W.A.P.) is easy. Witnessing in spite of this and similar petty annoyance is not.

          Reply
      2. JBird4049

        You are being sarcastic about the history book, right? It is not that far from the Unvaccinated to the Unclean to the Disposables to the Untermensch. At least no one is ranting on “racial hygene,” mental defectives or similar “ideas”.

        I have been reading and rereading some of my books especially on eugenics, which was biggest in the United States after its beginnings in England and the Third Reich. I thought about hunting for books on the Aktion T4 program, but for now my books like War Against the Weak, by Edwin Black are depressing enough.

        Most people almost do not realize that eugenics after its beginnings was mostly an American affair. Yes, the British, French, and certainly Germans, were all involved too, but IIRC after helping to develop Social Darwinism and “scientific” racism, did not follow the Americans and their German proteges down the path. Forced sterilizations, supported by the ideas of eugenics, was legal and done during roughly the first 60 or 70 years of the Twentieth Century including states. California itself only stopped around 1970 with covert and illegal sterilizations still being done in the women’s prison system.

        I guess this whole comment thread is making me moody because it reminds just how quickly and darkly it can become. Francis Galton created the term eugenics in the middle of the 1880s. Americans were doing the forced sterilization thing by the 1920s and we all know what and when the Germans did. Sixty-five years.

        No, it does not have to get to that level to get bad. Believe me. Forced sterilizations as ordered by the courts or done surreptitiously in community clinics, forced sometimes illegal deportations, occasionally of American citizens, or concentration camps like Manzanar. All happened during the first four decades of the twentieth century. It got worse each decade.

        As I remember it, the phrase “check your privilege started” appeared during the 1980s with what is called Identity Politics to very slowly form just a little later. It is now forty years later. No, I do not expect Holocaust, part II, but I do expect it to get real dark soon. In what way, who knows? The growing incompetence and fear among the top 10% and the growing economic suffering of the bottom 85% (as oppose to 2019’s 80% or so) along with little problems like climate change is going to make it grim.

        And using what can be perceived as eliminationist rhetoric, even if one does not think of it as such helps it along. It probably comes to who uses such demagoguery the best that will determine who gets to set up the American fascist state first. The proto fascist Democrats or the almost real fascist Republicans. It probably depends on who the Republicans choose to run against our current vice president.

        Reply
  8. William Neil

    Forgive me, commentators, and Yves yourself, for going to a different level of generalization to try to understand the conflicts surfacing here.

    How do we explain the rise and triumph of Trump, and his very narrow defeat in 2020, the causality of it?

    I’m beginning to think, having done some considerable reading in the history of eastern Europe, and the fate of the Weimar Republic, that America itself is undergoing a crisis of “modernization,” that old category which used to pit the success of industrialized modern Western Europe against the laggard nations of East and the Balkans, heavy on religious, rural peasant culture and monarchy, with Germany straddling and torn in between the science and advanced universities, and the nature of rural ag there in its East – Prussia…Berlin and Hamburg contrasted with the Bavarian Alps…as much as Hollywood and New York with the virtuous heartland…and West Virginia (?)

    It is hard not to see the turn of the American Religious Right – many (not all) evangelicals, fundamentalists and conservative Catholics refusing to accept the authority of science (evolution, the geological time scale) leading to the vast skepticism on Covid vaccines, tangled as it is with the alleged plot ruin the good Trump economy via shut downs, trampling on the most sacred word to the American Right: entrepreneurial “Freedom.”

    It makes the Right’s coalition even stranger and more bizarre: a globalized business class built on science, innovation and therefore change, perpetual motion, and upward mobility built on greater and higher education – versus needing only one good book or is it two (Old and New), and belief that the one great event in human history has already happened?

    How much further is it from the fantasies of Ronald Reagan to the religious foundation of “belief in the unseen” – to susceptibility to the “big lie” as historian Timothy Snyder puts forth in his public speeches and books?

    Fintan O’Toole got it right in his wonderful summary of the reasons for the popularity of “Game of Thrones,” its historical jumble and presentation of magic…and its Hobbesian “war of all against all” …a prelude to you know what “philosophy” the one that triumphed on the ashes of the Weimar Republic.

    I still think his review in the Irish Times is the background story to Trump: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/tv-radio-web/fintan-o-toole-game-of-thrones-is-an-epic-for-our-times-1.3835156 From March of 2019…

    Reply
    1. flora

      You will forgive me if I take exception to the phrase “the authority of science” considering how egregiously that supposedly unquestioned “authority” has been misused for political purposes. I’m well versed in the sciences, well versed in and accept the scientific method as valuable, yet I have no truck with with “the authority of science” trope. “Science” is not a church or a governmental authority backed by the power to arrest and imprison. It’s only power is the culturally endowed power of logic and impartial investigation. You get my meaning..

      Reply
  9. Lee

    This anti-vaccine attitude fits with the anti-government libertarianism that predominates among Christian nationalists. Many within the movement place this belief in freedom from government action within a traditional religious framework.

    I have an in-law who I would describe as a secular libertarian. He’s a blue collar guy who made a pile on bitcoin and is looking to retire early to a gated community of ten acre properties in a picturesque rural area.

    While he believes it is wrong for the government to require masking, he respects the rights of private businesses, including the one he works for, to require them. He doesn’t want the vaccine in his body but is enthusiastic about getting a Neuralink (Elon Musk is a hero of his) chip installed in his brain, which through a satellite connection will give him unlimited 24/7 access to the internet, and thus all human knowledge. Just what he would do with all that knowing, I’m not sure. I was afraid to ask.

    Reply
    1. occasional anonymous

      Your in-law is an idiot. Neuralink is a complete scam, even by Musk’s low standards. Allowing the South African emerald mine heir to scam you out of money is one thing, but it’s quite another to let him cut you open and put a BS product in your brain.

      Reply
  10. Jack Parsons

    ‘Christian Nationalist’ is just a tortured way to avoid saying ‘Christianist’, like ‘Islamist’.

    Reply
  11. Copeland

    This is an amazing discussion, thank you NC and especially the commenters.

    Naked Capitalism is the very best part of the internet.

    I live in a purple part of a purple state, and all of these issues and different points of view are readily observed. I am an autoimmune disaster and I have been my entire life. Not really sure what I’m going to do regarding the vaccines. Perhaps J & J is best for someone like me?

    Reply
  12. Jeremy Grimm

    I was a child when the Sabin oral polio vaccines became available — I was not terribly aware then — but I do not remember any resistance to that polio vaccine. A lot has changed since that time.

    Suppose the US Government made a fully approved and tested Corona flu vaccine developed based on conventional vaccine development techniques, with trust worthy, well-documented and reliable measures of efficacy, duration of protection, risk factors, and assessments and frequencies for possible side-effects, and made the vaccine widely, freely, and easily available to all who wanted it. Suppose vaccines and vaccine development techniques could not be patented and billions of intellectual property rights did not ride on the success of the vaccine. There are of course more supposes I might need to add. Anti-vaxers would still resist the vaccine but what about the rest of the Populace, including the Christian Nationalists?

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      My parents’ generation was the last American one to be exposed to all those deadly diseases that we no longer have to endure, which is great, but many Americans do not any understanding of what danger is. Then add the increasing incompetence and corruption of government, business, and society makes it not insane to question whatever is being asked or told of people.

      Thirty years ago, I trusted the CDC because it was the CDC. I accept they could make mistakes, but I believed in their competence, expertise, and honesty. What are they now and why should anyone trust them?

      Reply
  13. IM Doc

    As if we needed more evidence of the severe emotional strain that our young people are under – and that I have been seeing all year – Everyone should look at the tweets put out recently by the young man who assaulted the Capitol today.

    His name is Noah X – and he is apparently a follower of Luis Farakkhan. But he referenced in his tweets Elijah Muhammad (Jesus) – and the Beast and the End of Time.

    How ironic that this post was put up this AM.

    I am telling you, I have never seen anything like this in the 30 years of medicine. The extreme mental stress this pandemic and all the issues surrounding it have placed on our young people. I am seeing it every day of my life. I am many days as dark as I ever felt in my life. If you want to know why many health care workers are at the breaking point – this is why. I would not at all be surprised when this whole story comes out that there is a physician or provider somewhere who saw this young man – and his suffering. And felt powerless to do a thing about it. All I can say is that after awhile – it really begins to get to you.

    What gets me is that so many older and more well off seem to be totally blind to what is going on. What is more deeply disturbing in the face of a tragedy like this that all sides are rushing to politicize this on our broadcast and social media. WINNING!

    Last night was Holy Thursday. We watched as the feet of the lowest among us were washed. Man, do we all ever need to absorb that lesson in our souls.

    As I have said many times – I appreciate this website – it allows thinking people of all stripes to vent, to explain, to learn from one another with respect and dignity – I wish the rest of the country were like that.

    Reply
  14. William Neil

    Thanks IM Doc; was married to an EM Doc years ago, and learned a little medicine and psychology just listening during decompression time.

    One of the most amazing things I have seen, living essentially near the emotional heart of WVA although it’s Western MD, is the religious moralizing which ends moral discussion – no – insists – it begins and ends with personal morality and belief in Easter’s one great event. There is no such thing a social or public morality, so that that for me, lapsed Christian that I am, there is no Social Gospel movement which has left a dent, and there is no extension of the Sermon on the Mount, to let us say National Health Insurance or decent housing for the poor. This is amazing to me at all levels: reason, ethics, flow of history…it’s all still at the same place Luther kicked it off at in 1517-1530 – and you know how that century ended up, in bloody and nearly endless religious war, maybe the closest barbarism to 1939-1945 that we have, although the Crusades have to be given their due.

    And then the topper at the personal emotional character level: I cannot fit Mr. Trump into any semblance of Christian spirit, character, demeanor that I can recall from my growing up in the 1950’s. He’s just so out of sync that I cannot remain calm when a born ‘againer declaims for him. Only maybe the role of a con-artist preacher from the 1920’s…but even then we know too much about Trump’s prior life, the quintessential bully at all levels…

    Reply
    1. flora

      Inst my younger years I believed all humanity’s moral trials had been met and mastered by my ancestors. But, what if each new generation, if each person, is faced with the same trials? What if ancestors’ past strength of character is not, you know, inherited but must be found anew? I don’t have answers. Isaiah 53:3. (not to be pedantic)

      Reply
      1. flora

        adding: I understand full well that “truth” in science is always somewhat conditional and “truth” in religion is too often used to bully and bludgeon for power interests,… still and all… that said… I retain a faith in both to arrive at something humanly positive so long as neither is corrupted by “interests”. A big ask, I know.

        Reply
      2. Fraibert

        Why are Adam and Eve punished with the introduction of death into the world? There are a bunch of obvious answers, but the key one to me is that the existence of death means that each person must learn about the world and gain wisdom for him or herself through hard experience. There is no shortcut to knowledge.

        Accordingly, the same basic errors will be repeated generation after generation, and humanity’s growth will be slow and painful.

        Reply
        1. skippy

          There are decadal meta studies which clearly show the first 5 years of a humans life are the most critical to future outcomes regardless of genetic factors.

          Hence this Calvinistic attitude about suffering being the path to wisdom is just good fodder for the unwashed so their betters can enjoy themselves.

          Reply
  15. skippy

    In the vein of IM Doc I have noticed that relatives in the midwest/southwest and a vast majority of their friends have decamped previous social media platforms.

    In my readings and experience this plays out as self reinforcing feed back loops with only one trajectory – increased disassociation with the reality around *them*. The perspective that they are on the special team with a special plan for *them* is just the gift that keeps on giving. My only major concern is this has a propensity to devolve into a *them* vs us narrative and only *them* can make things right.

    I can hear old NC Beardo trotting out the old …. but skip … we can see “the pit you have for us” trope. Imagine walking around with that perspective day and night filtering through all your cognitive processes.

    Reply

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