Can There Be a Civil Discussion about Vaccination?
Can There Be a Civil Discussion about Vaccination?
by Cliff Cobb
I'm not normally a big fan of Michel Foucault for the simple reason that I cannot understand him. But I have developed an appreciation of his concept of "biopower," a term that refers to the state's monitoring and management of populations for the sake of controlling fertility, protecting public health, and promoting longevity, and other biological goals.
One notable feature of "biopolitics," or the political controversies that arise in relation to biopower, is that it tends to generate extreme and often absolutist opinions. Abortion has become an issue without a grey area in politics, even though the majority of Americans believe there is a need to balance the interests of women and the interests of fetuses. Euthanasia also has intense advocates who favor it and those who regard it as completely immoral. Vaccination now falls into that same world that has forced everyone to choose sides in a war that few actually understand.
The fundamental question at stake in the debate over vaccination is how to decide any scientific issue of importance when there are experts who disagree about causes or remedies. When asked about his views on climate change, Julian Assange said that the issue of climate science is too difficult for most of us to understand. Thus, the question we are faced with is not how we weigh the evidence ourselves but which experts to believe. If one is in a quandary about which side to believe, one should discount the information coming from the side that has a strong public relations apparatus because it will have an unfair advantage. For that reason, we should trust the "geeky" scientists who report facts without much skill in spinning them. This is only a partial explanation of a rule of thumb to use in resolving our allegiance in a complex debate, but it indicates the necessity of recognizing the dilemma we are in and the necessity of relying on metarules to gain some degree of confidence in our judgments.
In the case of vaccination, I have met only one person in my life who opposes vaccination. I'm sure there are others, but most of the people who have been labeled "anti-vaxxers" are aware of the history of vaccination and tend to favor the use of vaccines. Thus, most "anti-vaxxers" are not what they seem to be.
An intense debate about childhood vaccination predated COVID-19 by several decades. I am no expert on the debate, but I would note just three elements that have made me sympathize with the critics of contemporary vaccination policy.
- The main issue is not whether to vaccinate but how many vaccinations to give a child before age 2, before age 3, and so on. The anti-vaxxers whom I have encountered propose nothing more radical than spreading the current vaccination regime over a longer period than is currently the norm. I have not attempted to determine which timeline of vaccinations is appropriate. But I do note a level of ideological rigidity among the advocates of the current regime that is more about respecting the authority of the authorities than about respecting the authority of the evidence.
- The second main issue about vaccination for the past several decades has been about the preservatives in vaccines, particularly ones that contain mercury. Again, I have not devoted the many hours that I would need to make a strong judgment about the merits of the case against such preservatives, but the crucial point is that the debate was notabout the vaccine itself in most cases. It was about what we might call co-factors. I believe it is possible that the critics are 100% wrong about the dangers associated with thimerosal, for example, but the fact that mercury-based preservatives have been removed from most childhood vaccines suggests that there is some basis to the complaints. To resolve the issue, I would like to see a quasi-judicial process take place, which is not how decisions are currently reached. There is less room for corruption in a procedure with two sides and the possibility of discovery and cross-examination than there is in "blue ribbon panels" that are typically appointed to resolve questions of fact. The outcome of panels is generally determined before they are appointed. It's harder to do that with a jury trial.
- The context of the long-term debate about vaccination is also extremely important and requires book-length treatment. It involves the history of the medical profession, the pharmaceutical industry as an outgrowth of the petrochemical industry, the power of John D. Rockefeller in controlling the direction taken by the medical establishment after 1910, and the influence of pharmaceutical companies on the FDA and on medical journals such as Lancetand JAMA. Anyone who takes seriously that long history is unlikely to take at face value the statements made by the FDA. Similarly, the CDC and WHO have recently been corrupted by the power Bill Gates now exercises over the WHO. Again, I don't have the time to research each allegation I read. I can only say the allegations form a consistent pattern that fits with my personal experience. Journalism is not an ideal forum for resolving these questions, but neither is naïve faith in authority. A judicial-style forum to evaluate allegations of corruption would be far better.
Because of that background, I judge all official statements about COVID-19 with skepticism. I wear a mask in public places because I have not spent time trying to determine whether they are effective or not in spreading the virus. I am still not vaccinated because I probably got COVID-19 while traveling in China, and the public health authorities seem completely uninterested in evaluating natural immunity. I am troubled about some aspects of the handling of the pandemic by those who favor vaccination.
- Lack of options. My biggest complaint about the management of potential transmission of viruses in the U.S. is the absence of any official advice about how to prevent illness. An obvious and glaring omission is any official guidance about the value of Vitamin D as a source of prevention of all types of influenza. This failure of public health preceded the pandemic, but it remains a problem even now. Unofficially, Fauci observed that he personally takes Vitamin D every day as a preventative. Thus, the absence of official guidance was not based on lack of information among top officials. There are many evidence-based protocols in use in other countries that might have allowed millions of people to reduce the damage caused by exposure to the virus.
The 1918 flu that killed 40-50 million people worldwide came from one of the farms (CAFOs) in Haskell County, Kansas. Thus, epidemiologists have known for years or decades that reducing the density of animal feeding operations is an important step in reducing the likelihood of a pandemic diseases transferred from animals. Yet, the situation has become much worse in the last century, not better. This simple fact suggests that public health in the U.S. relies almost entirely on technical fixes (vaccination of human populations) rather than behavior modification (fewer feedlots). The logical conclusion is that economic factors (the industrial agriculture lobby) outweigh public health considerations.
- Silencing of critics. Since I start with a bias in favor of prophylaxis and treatment that rely on a billion years of experience fighting pathogens by strengthening natural immunity, I seek to learn what the experts in that perspective have to say. The fact that critics were silenced through intimidation rather than evidence does not bode well for democracy. Censorship is a sign of weakness.
- Statistics. It will be several decades, if then, before we have reliable estimates of the direct death toll from the pandemic. The standard method of estimation of the global death count is the estimation of "excess deaths" above normal levels. But "normal" deaths from flu encompasses a band in the U.S. that varies from 3,000 to 48,000 in a single year. Plus, deaths during pandemic years includes people who died from many other causes that went untreated because of fear or overcrowding in hospitals. Close examination of statistics shows they are sensitive to choices made on political grounds. What might seem like a simple process of counting is in fact fraught with questions that can swell or shrink the estimated death toll from a specific cause. Governments do irreparable harm to their credibility when they report numbers without being clear about their estimation methods. Numbers based on one set of assumptions should also be reported next to estimates based on alternate assumptions. This is currently the practice with estimates of unemployment in the U.S., which permits debate about the effect of policy on jobs to be more nuanced than would otherwise be the case.
I appreciate the possibility that the official view that herd immunity can be achieved at the lowest cost in terms of public health by requiring vaccinations. That view may be accurate. But since a mandate of this sort violates the rights of citizens in a fundamental way, the basis for it should be more than "trust the experts." What is missing is a procedure by which the advocates of imposed vaccination have to prove their case to an impartial group that is also allowed to hear counter-evidence.
Conclusion: Need for a Better Philosophy of Health
The most difficult aspect of controversies over competing claims of effectiveness in the medical field is how to determine what constitutes evidence. I don't believe this can be decided empirically because a key question involves the durability of evidence. For example, antibiotics have been around for a few decades, but mutations of bacteria and fungi constantly undermine their effectiveness. Thus, a well-designed experiment may show a treatment is successful one decade, but two decades later, it is useless. There is no test, other than evolution, of the capacity to adapt to changes in the environment, and that--not results of scientific tests--is the ultimate criterion we should be using. One reason I am skeptical of (but not opposed to) vaccination against fast-mutating viruses is that they are short-term fixes. If public health were oriented toward long-term issues and explained why short-term methods were needed to fill in the gaps, I would be open to those arguments. Instead, the entire medical establishment is oriented toward quick fixes, about 90% of which are palliative and mask symptoms.
These are just a few thoughts that begin to touch on how a process-relational philosophy could modify the way we think about health, illness, public health, the place of humans in the evolutionary process, and the meta-level goals of medicine. I believe that leaders in medicine, like leaders in economics have a penchant for narcissism. They have fallen in love with their reflection in their own models of physiology, and they become perturbed when anyone disturbs that reflection. This is a clear case of the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. Medicine is older than our species. Either through instinct or intuition, animals and plants seek out remedies for their pathological condition. By trial and error, they have learned, at the cellular level and above, how to cope with assaults from bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Humans accelerated the process, but that acceleration began hundreds of thousands of years ago, not in 1910. Modern medicine is a product of modern philosophy. Neither is entirely wrong, but we should be wary of putting our faith in either of them.
Safe and Highly Effective?
by Ignacio Castuera
I am writing in response to Cliff Cobb’s paper where he asks, and argues for, a civil discussion about vaccinations. From the outset of this presentation I want to state that I believe that civil discussions in this area are not only possible but must become necessary as well. The title I chose for my response comes from claims about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and of the COVID 19 vaccines in particular. Cobb shows in his paper that such claims are not easy to defend and yet we have not had a single death from the vaccine and vaccinated people seem to be faring well so far.
I agree with most of what Cliff presents in his paper and the few areas of disagreement emerge from my life experience both in my native Mexico and in my fifty years of pastoral ministry. Cobb is not an antivaxer but his statements about the number and frequency of vaccinations for children indicate that he would like to see an open discussion about that issue alone.
When I was an infant I survived diphtheria thanks to a smart father who took me to two different physicians and a caring doctor who questioned his own diagnosis and visited me in the middle of the night. The vaccine against diphtheria was developed in the 1920s but it was not widely available in Mexico. The same was true for tetanus and pertussis and I was exposed to the suffering of many children who were infected with those illnesses. By the 1970s when my children were born DTP was available and all my children received those vaccines. My days in Mexico contributed to an almost unquestioning attitude regarding vaccines.
I was surprised to learn how many vaccines are recommended for children before they reach the age of two but I have not read any persuasive argument to stop that practice.
As I reached my senior years I have followed the advice of my youngest brother who is a very good physician. In particular I was happy to learn that a vaccine is now available for shingles. My father had a relatively mild case, but in my ministry I met many people who suffered from severe cases of shingles. I guess shingles does not kill but many who suffered wished they did,
COVID 19 has propelled the question of vaccines into the political world with different parties availing themselves of their own “experts.” Cliff Cobb is correct in saying that the problem with “vaccination against fast-mutating viruses is that they are short-term fixes.” However, it is safe to say that many who might have died without the vaccine are thankful for the fix, however short-term it may be. The emergence of the Omicron variant will undoubtedly require another short-term life-saving solution until such a time as the long range answers he proposes and I support appear and are implemented.
Cliff Cobb suggests a “judicial-style forum to evaluate allegations of corruption…” I agree and wonder if a Delphi Method might be acceptable to him. David Griffin and others in the 9-11 Truth Movement used that method and I think it might work here also.
The concluding paragraph of Cliff Cobb’s essay is spot on and his call for an organic philosophical approach to medical care is worth pursuing. The difficulties in moving society in that direction are numbered in legions. In the meantime, we would be best served by adopting a more eclectic way of thinking and acting. In one of the churches I served there was a physician who was in charge of emergency procedures in a hospital in Los Angeles. He told me that he was open to a great variety of ways of healing people even though he could not use them in the hospital. He liked homeopathy, acupuncture and even used crystals. He really believed that medicine widely use in East Asia was the best way to deal with pain but that Western medicine excelled in surgery and in dealing with broken bones. Modern Western medicine suffers from those actions that Cobb identified, but it also has provided us with many ways to make life less difficult and a little longer. Let the dialogue continue.
I’m glad to see discussion here being posted. I’d like to add to Cliff’s comments regarding his concerns with the “bio-politics” that is now confronting us, and also to chime in with Ignacio’s suggestion for instituting a Delphi process for judiciously weighing counter claims amidst a media blackout of inquiry into all things CoVid-19. First I will establish some record about very successful counter-measures to CoVid-19 treatment and how knowledge of these has been systematically suppressed.
The World Health Organization includes Ivermectin and HCQ (Hydroxychloriquine) on its published inventory of “essential medicines”— remedies WHO finds so vital, effective and affordable that their ready access is must be considered essential “to satisfy the priority health care needs of the population.” ( https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-MHP-HPS-EML-2021.02 )
Upwards of 200 peer-reviewed studies by government and independent researchers ( http://www.c19study.com ) have found HCQ to be safe and effective against CV-19 (and coronaviruses in general) both as prophylaxis or when taken at appropriate dosages early in the stages of infection. I first became familiar with these studies when doing my own research after discovering what appeared to be a very well-orchestrated smear campaign. This research followed earlier work I did in the fall of 2020 preparing article for publication examining the (mis)use of Albert Camus’ “The Plague” for explaining all things CoVid. I now have bookmarked dozens and dozens of material pertaining to every angle of the CoVid narrative that I can find (available to anyone wishing them). Nowhere have I found more definitive, professionally inventoried peer review science and commentary than with the FLCCC ( https://covid19criticalcare.com/covid-19-protocols/ ).
(When I tried sharing this material with one of my sisters, she accused me of being a Trump rube "anti-vaxxer", pronounced to me the expert knowledge of her husband in vaccines because of his extensive work on aerosol administration of Pfizer pharmaceuticals (he’s a mechanical engineer by training) and refused to produce a single source of peer-reviewed evidence to support her claims. My sister has held many VP level corporate positions and is quite brilliant. Her obstinate position is hardly the exception in my family, or across the country. Her willingness to denounce me is a chilling reminder of Cliff’s cautionary warnings.)
Supplements of Vitamins D and C, Zinc and monoclonal antibodies have been found in therapeutic studies to enhance the ionophore effectiveness of HCQ. Advisories issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding HCQ are based on the discredited (and notoriously mal-practiced) SOLIDARITY and RECOVERY trials. That the FDA still pedals that material is very telling: 45% of that agency’s funding is based on user fees paid by pharmaceutical license applications. Searching Google you will find pages of material that doubles down on the pretense that HCQ (and Ivermectin) is ineffective, understudied, or dangerous. Much of this material is linked to the FDA driven narrative sourced to the SOLIDARITY and RECOVERY trials.
Robert F Kennedy, Jr., has now authored, based on his decades of work into the Pharma regime, what Cliff calls for in his post: a critically important corrective to the prevailing narrative: The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma & the Global War on Public Health. Other than an ambush interview published recently in Newsweek, this work has been blacked out of mainstream media, and yet: it is now outselling every other book on Amazon. Shortly after its release, a puff piece biography on Anthony Fauci was released with great fanfare. I highly recommend reviewing both works and drawing your own conclusions. What I’ve learned so far reading (and back-checking sources) of RFK’s work is the following:
- Clinical knowledge about the effectiveness of chloroquine for coronaviruses goes back to the early 2000s. In 2004, Belgian researchers found that chloroquine was an effective anti-viral at doses similar to those used for dealing effectively with Malaria ( http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7092815/pdf/main.pdf ). A CDC study published in 2005 in Virology Journal found that chloroquine quickly eliminated coronavirus in primate cell culture during the SARS outbreak ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1232869/ ). Evidence that chloroquine functioned as both a preventative and a cure for SARS Coronavirus is very likely what led to the subsequent campaign to vilify its utilization for CV-19 by pharmaceutical interests. (More evidence to this point: a NIAID study and a Dutch paper published in 2014 both confirmed that chloroquine was likewise effective in dealing with MERS).
- Under the intense pressure of Big Pharma, Toni Fauci and the funding spigot of the Gates Foundation, both HCQ and Ivermectin have been essentially embargoed from routine utilization for treatment of CV19. HCQ was scandalized in two fraudulent papers published in May 2020 by the (otherwise top) medical journals The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine. The problems with these papers were exposed by dozens and dozens of independent scientists discovering that the original database cited for these papers did not actually exist. A scandal ensued, culminating in the termination of one of the paper’s authors, Amit Patel, from faculty appointment at the University of Utah. (Never friendly to pharmaceutical criticism, even the New York Times had to report this: http://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/29/health/coronavirus-hydroxychloroquine.html ). Around the same time, Sapan S. Desai, Surgisphere’s founder, allegedly disappeared from his job at a Chicago hospital. Finally, the three other authors of the Lancet piece requested the paper be retracted. Both the Lancet and the NEJM eventually withdrew each paper in shame they have yet to live down.
- But you wouldn’t know this when “consulting with your doctor” for treating CV-19. Hospitals across the country have banned physicians from prescribing either HCQ or Ivermectin even under extreme conditions, and supplies have been dramatically restricted and in some cases eliminated. The media campaign to smear and vilify these substances has been unrelenting.
Some reasonable questions follow:
Had HCQ and Ivermectin not been vilified, how many lives could have been saved over these past 2 years?
Would we have ever had the disastrous implementation of intubation, which has killed countless thousands?
Had we not chased a quickly mutating pathogen with non-sterilizing, “leaky” pharmaceutical agents (still only under Emergency Use Authorization, by the way), would any Delta of any virulence have ever emerged?
And what about Medicare for All, which the Democrats have so cynically blocked with Republicans now for years? What if early and affordable care for the most vulnerable had been made available these last 2 years?
What if early stage CoVid had been administered to prudently instead of the advisory carried out around the country that doctors had nothing to offer patients until gravely ill?
What then would we be talking about this Christmas Holidays? (Why did Governor Cuomo quarantine New York care facilities and then install new infectious cases? And so on, and on and on.)
Regarding Cliff’s careful enumeration of his concerns with the bio-politics (and its correlate, bio-power) of our current moment, there’s not much more that’s useful to add. One of Foucault’s most attentive students, the Italian political theorist, Giorgio Agamben, has been blogging continuously about the pandemic. In May 2020 he wrote this:
"At issue is nothing less than the creation of a sort of “health terror” as an instrument for governing what are called “worst case scenarios.” It is according to this logic of the worst that already in 2005 the World Health Organization announced “2 to 150 million deaths from bird flu approaching,” suggesting a political strategy that states were not yet ready to accept at the time. [Historical epidemiologist, Patrick] Zylberman shows that the apparatus being suggested was articulated in three points: 1) the construction, on the basis of a possible risk, of a fictitious scenario in which data are presented in such a way as to promote behaviors that allow for governing an extreme situation; 2) the adoption of the logic of the worst as a regime of political rationality; 3) the total organization of the body of citizens in a way that strengthens maximum adherence to institutions of government, producing a sort of superlative good citizenship in which imposed obligations are presented as evidence of altruism and the citizen no longer has a right to health (health safety) but becomes juridically obliged to health (biosecurity)." ( https://medium.com/@ddean3000/biosecurity-and-politics-giorgio-agamben-396f9ab3b6f4)
What Foucault glimpsed very clearly is how a regime of bio-politics perpetuates a constant state of terror, where governance is reduced to “the level of life, itself”. In the process, all regimes otherwise based on the demos--the people as sovereign choice making entities, themselves bound to each other in ways that Process has been so devotional--is replaced by regimes based on bios, “the level of life, itself”.
From the paper I mention earlier (regarding Camus and CoVid):
"By progressive reduction of this logic, the cellular level of life is just another frontier of precariousness; another dominion into which state authority is interposed on the acclaimed grounds of the (anticipatory) security of all, 'the global ecosystem for greater good'. Pressed by system logic to its imminent telos, such an ecosystem must extend to all life precincts: from demos to bios. Retinal scans, total grid surveillance, subcutaneous digital identity chips and vaccination passports (forefront apparatuses of today’s biopower) all press state authority ever deeper and irrevocably beneath the will of the people, the demos; ushered forward as if a seamless response to the always incipient emergency or system exigency (the questioning or dubiousness of which becomes just another risk to manage); always, as Foucault limned, via 'a closely meshed grid of material coercions rather than the physical existence of a sovereign'."
It is within this context that any number of (otherwise Orwellian) morbid fear scenarios become normalized. One striking example is the now fungible Webster’s Dictionary definition of “vaccine”. Previously associated with pathogen sterilization and immunization, it has now become an amorphous vector for which boosters will be required. In short, the notion is oxymoronic. We should not be surprised, for that matter, that Websters now defines “anti-vaxxer” as anyone who opposes the administration of vaccine mandates. In other words, anyone who become dubious about how effective the (always next) booster will be is now an anti-vaxxer by definition. This is a (not so) “Brave New World” deviation from the vaccine regime consensus under which Ignacio and millions among us received inoculations against an array of childhood disease.
Regarding Ignacio’s call for instituting a Delphi process to help produce the “civil discussion” that is so vitally needed now but, for that matter, is so woefully censored, I have a mixed opinion. On the one hand, such inquiry could help produce something like the work David Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth organized (in which I was closely involved) for “Consensus 9/11”. My concern is that time is not on our side. Austria and Germany have now instituted draconian lockdowns. Australia is now essentially a police state, complete with gulag detainment centers. Canada and New Zealand are both very close on those heels, and the U.S. House of Representatives just passed legislation authorizing a national vaccine database that would have been considered a science fiction invasion of the most intimate precincts of identity just two years ago.
Into the vacuum of the (otherwise) judicious dialog Ignacio beckons there has now rushed in massive street protests across the globe, utterly blacked out by U.S. mainstream media (which the Gates Foundation has underwritten over $300m that we know about, much more, very likely, through augmented channels). If I had not been early and often on alternative, “conspiracy theory” sites, I would never have known this. In the U.S. there are now a score of appellate court cases surging in reaction to the Biden institution of OSHA mandate. So far, that mandate has been impounded indefinitely and/or remanded for fuller review. And again: reading the New York Times and the like you will hear only equivocation about what all of this (really) means.
In the meantime, I see no end in sight to the echo-chambered miss-information the world is now being relentlessly and viciously subjected to. Fauci recently issued his advisory about the Christmas Holiday: “un-vaxxed” family members must be treated firmly. This is precisely the level of terror deployed by the Nazi’s early in their regime: taken to the level of the last refuge of filial love, itself.
My mother’s family survived that era, praying together for Allied invasion, huddled in hiding (harbored by the farmer who had served as orderly in WWI with my grandfather as medic) in the closing days of the war.
To which one eye opened to our current era reveals more than a few grave parallels. Only now, there will be no Allied invasion, and the scale of oppression is global, coordinated, and being carried out with stunning speed, tenacity and contempt for all things Process.
Anyone wishing my library of URLs in the subject area is more than welcome.
I would like to reply to both Cliff and Ignacio. I will take more time to read Matthew's reply before commenting there. I have no biological children but I'm the step-mom of four children. Long before I came into the picture my husband and his first wife got their first child her regular childhood vaccinations. She had a bad reaction. My husband and all his children have since discovered that they have multiple allergies and this may be the cause. When he took his second child to the pediatrician, he asked that the vaccinations be spread out. The doctor refused and removed him from his service. My husband therefore chose not to get vaccinations for his next two children. They were home-schooled because they couldn't attend any school without vaccinations. Now that they are grown, they are all vaccinated. It was done in a slow way that felt safer and made sense for our family.
Vaccinations often have egg protein as an ingredient. Two of my step children are allergic to egg. My oldest step daughter, the one who received the vaccinations as a baby, has many health issues to this day. Were the vaccinations the cause? We will never know. Why won't we know? Because we are not allowed to question vaccines. Any doctor who does so, risks being ostracized by his or her peers. Look up Dr. Jay Gordon. He is not a fringe quack. He is a respected pediatrician but he is taking big risks just by asking questions. One of the things he brings up is. " it's not a one size fits all" with vaccinations. Some people have bad reactions and he thinks that maybe we should slow down on childhood vaccinations. Even to suggest research is taboo.
This is the same issue that process thinkers have with science. We are allowed to ask some questions but not others. I ask the rhetorical question: Why can't we ask questions about vaccines?
I hope that I added some real life experiences to the submissions by Cliff and Ignacio with these stories.
Public health officials under Covid have given great emphasis to prophylactic measures -- such as masks, distancing, and ventilation -- but this has been met with even more resistance than that given to vaccines.
Re vaccines themselves, as 800,000 Americans have discovered a new way to die over the last two years, I think that whatever the relative short-term efficacy of vaccines, they are a wonderful thing, and need not cancel out any longer-term approaches. Certainly, prophylactic emphasis has continued on a parallel track.
In terms of using a kind of public jury process for pharmaceutical approval, I can’t imagine instituting a wholly new pharmaceutical approval process in the midst of a national emergency (it seems problematic in normal times, too, but that would be a different discussion thread).
And of course anyone who knows me knows I can’t accept the idea that just because there’s a significant promotional apparatus behind something in mainstream media, it therefore ought to be discounted. Much of my own career was spent in this arena. I understand from the inside the serious shortcomings that abound in media in all forms; but even so, I have deep appreciation on the whole for the extraordinary dedication, hard work, integrity, care, risk-taking, and art and craft involved in serious major-media journalism.
As for my own response to covid? I’ve done what I’ve been told by public health experts. It only seems reasonable in a national emergency to follow orders. This is very much connected in my mind to what it means to serve the common good. I’m also extremely thankful to the public officials and healthcare professionals who are working tirelessly under these conditions to save our lives.
RESPONSE FROM CATHERINE KELLER:
First of all let me affirm unconditionally this experimental call for critical conversations--and the courageous first responders. Then let me add that I share Cliff Cobb’s sense that vis a vis COVID19 we should neither ignore nor put our faith in the biopolitics of modern medical science. And however else the pandemic might have been handled, I stand with Ignacio Castuera on insisting, at the same time, on the importance now of mass vaccination. So I also respect Matthew Witt’s intensively researched counterview. His diagnosis of the vaccination strategy as the symptom of an Orwellian international authoritarianism should not be sniggered off as conspiracy theory. Conspiracies are real, and so is the ”echo-chambered misinformation the world is now relentlessly and viciously subjected to.”
Yet somehow the right-wing misinformation is ignored. But to point out how friendly much of this denunciation is to Trumpist anti-government propaganda would be to shut down conversation. I’ll just say that there is nothing more conversation stopping than the final rhetorical flourish: the recourse to accusing Fauci of “precisely the level of terror deployed by the Nazis early in their regime”--and to be accusing him of this because he asked the public to practice masking and distancing with unvaxxed family members. So I admit that I wasn’t sure I should write this bit of a response: for a feeling of anger combines on my part with my lack of any time or interest in accruing a comparable density of evidence on the pro-vaxxing side. Nonetheless that margin of uncertainty, at once of relational affect and of factual sufficiency, belongs to the indeterminacy of this experiment--and of process itself.