One of the most common and potent ways to denigrate a human being or a group of human beings is to identify them by a disparaging label. To achieve its intended effect, the label, if chosen well, need not be complicated or creative. It must merely serve two purposes: to quickly conjure up in the listener's mind a negative image or association and, just as importantly, to put in place a barrier that hinders meaningful communication.
By another name, it is 'Name calling'. Children, once past those early years of innocence, can be particularly adept at it. How many times have I heard an adult evoke a painful past scarred by being labeled 'fat' or ‘ugly’? And those who wish to seek or maintain power too can skillfully manipulate sentiment in only a slightly more sophisticated way.
This is a time-honored tradition. Identification as a heretic or witch, a 'Red' or a 'commie', a counter-revolutionary or revisionist once led to dire consequences. In our slightly tamer era, being called a 'tree hugger' or 'liberal' was an effective political tool to promote particular agendas. In fact, our Name-Caller-in-Chief, can to no small degree owe his political ascendancy to his particular adroitness in this art.
Such designations promote a sense of 'Otherness' toward their objects. They are an invitation to dismiss a person or a group without truly understanding their perspective or considering their humanity.
Recently, a new term has been unleashed into our lexicon, promulgated by a host of media outlets ranging from network news to the august 'newspaper of record', the New York Times. 'Anti-vaxxers'. It is meant to evoke some cabal of irrational, conspiracy minded people who don't believe in science who, the implication is, are out to harm society in general - but your child in general - due to their ignorant narrow mindedness.
Here for instance is just the opening of an opinion piece by a columnist at the above mentioned paper, Frank Bruni, writing in an March 9, 2019 entitled 'The Real Horror of the Anti-Vaxxers: This isn’t just a public health crisis. It’s a public sanity one':
"How many studies do you have to throw at the vaccine hysterics before they quit? How much of a scientific consensus, how many unimpeachable experts and how exquisitely rational an argument must you present?
... the anti-vaccine crowd (or anti-vaxxers) aren’t trafficking in anything as concrete, mundane and quaint as facts. They’re not really engaged in a debate about medicine. They’re immersed in a world of conspiracies, in the dark shadows where no data can be trusted, nothing is what it seems and those who buy the party line are pitiable sheep."
Really? Lots of epithets, derisiveness, and righteousness... Columnists sometimes run low on ideas when needing to meet a deadline for their next article - I certainly have had that experience, so maybe he was hoping to find an easy target to demonize. But one wonders whether he or others who are so quick to dismiss those with serious concerns about current vaccination programs taken the trouble to speak to or read the research of very credible medical experts who have serious concerns about the safety of vaccinations, especially the vast number (69 doses of 16 vaccines by the age of 18) that are mandated for young children with still immature immune systems?
Even more troubling is the experience of enormous numbers of children and their families who live with the horrendous consequences of vaccine reactions is not acknowledged in the slightest. Neither hysterics nor conspiracy theorists, they are ordinary persons who trusted the advice or acceded to the demands of medical authorities and have suffered the consequences. At best they are dismissed as collateral damage, at worst as fabricators.
To put a number on the suffering, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has, as of last year, paid out $4 billion dollars in claims. This is taxpayer money because pharmaceutical companies are by law indemnified from any claims regarding vaccinations.
Of course, the debate about vaccinations is generally focused on whether they can be linked to autism. A great many opinions on both side of the question have been voiced, but after hearing the similar story from so many parents who have witnessed their children begin displaying neurological symptoms soon after immunization shots and then decline into autism, it becomes difficult not to see there must be a connection.
On the other hand, in my experience there are a host of other less dramatic but still consequential reactions that also occur after vaccinations. For instance, take the case of a 5 month-old boy whose mother recently consulted with me about episodes of violent vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. After one such episode, the child was rushed to the hospital with a high white blood cell count and kept overnight. It turned out that he had developed a rash a few days earlier and was now also presenting with a recurrence of eczema that had developed after birth but had subsequently disappeared.
When asked about vaccinations, the mother said, "Oh yes, he got his most recent shots 3 days before the rash appeared'". And this wasn't the first time he had an adverse reaction. His vaccinations at 2 months made him extremely lethargic for several days. When I suggested the entire episode was a vaccine reaction, she replied that she thought so too, but that the pediatrician had dismissed the idea out of hand.
Disregarding something so painfully obvious is either an indication of incompetence or prejudice. But this is what parents are told all the time. Even in these relatively milder cases, the danger is that the parents will ignore the warnings signs, and on the advise of ill informed medical personnel proceed further with the vaccine program. For this infant, it is only been eczema, rash, fevers, digestive disturbances and lethargy from birth to 5 months. Continue with the dozens of vaccinations that are scheduled for him in the upcoming months and years, and who knows how his system will respond.
The heart of the issue lies in the fact that politicians and commentators who rely on 'unimpeachable experts' and 'scientific consensus' do not take into account the enormous financial incentives and consequent corruption involved in promoting vaccinations, nor do they seem to realize that any dissenting opinions within the scientific community are ostracized and ultimately silenced while the testimony of the victims is largely ignored.
For example, in an open letter written by the PhD immunologist Tetyana Obukhanych1, scientific evidence is cited that "a person who is not vaccinated with IPV, DTaP, HepB, and Hib vaccines due to reasons of conscience poses no extra danger to the public than a person who is" and that no discrimination is warranted. She also refers to studies of measles outbreaks in Quebec, Canada, and China attest that outbreaks of measles still happen, even when vaccination compliance is in the highest bracket (95-97% or even 99%. Just as importantly, Obukhanych brings to light evidence that there is a significantly elevated risk of emergency room visits after childhood vaccination appointments.
(This letter, which goes beyond the scope of this article and is cited in the footnotes below, is well worth a careful reading.)
Every opportunity is being taken to further marginalize these nonconforming points of view. Members of congress are promoting outright censorship by pressuring Amazon, Facebook and Google to withdraw books as well as block websites or other content that question vaccine safety.
On the state level, there are aggressive campaigns to eliminate all exemptions to mandatory vaccinations. Even here in 'liberal' Vermont legislation has been proposed this year to abolish the last remaining vaccine exemption. This flies in the face of the right to informed consent for any medical treatment, which is a fundamental pillar of modern medical ethics that was established in the wake medical abuses committed during the Second World War was designed to protect individuals from medical harm by guaranteeing every individual’s right to dissent without coercion.
Perhaps then it not the 'anti-vaxxers' that are hysterical, but those who want to impose draconian measures to force vaccine compliance. But from where does this fervor arise? One major hint would be to consider the revolving door between the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry that is widely recognized by both the mainstream media and FDA officials themselves2. Of course, another clue impossible to ignore is the 30 million dollars of annual campaign contributions by the drug companies to politicians of all denominations3.
Despite all these efforts to quash the voices of those who have a different point of view concerning vaccinations, there still are resources easily accessible to anyone who wishes to investigate further:
For a Vermont focused perspective, Health Choice Vermont provides extensive information - https://www.healthchoicevt.com
The National Vaccine Information Center has for years been leading voice on all issues related to vaccinations - https://www.nvic.org
And the Children's Health Defense is an organization created by Robert Kennedy, Jr dedicated to ending 'childhood health epidemics by working aggressively to eliminate harmful exposures, hold those responsible accountable, and establish safeguards so this never happens again.' - https://childrenshealthdefense.org