I think that this is a powerful image.
It resonated with me the moment that I saw it. This image also represents one of my fears with the way society is developing. To me it is not surprising that some people are pushing for exercising greater controls over society, there always seems to be someone who wants to limit or remove the freedoms of others. In the last 18 months many of us have had our freedom of movement curtailed, followed by the removal of our freedom to associate, and now it is extending to our right to employment with the ‘no jab, no job’ demand. There are people pushing for a form of vaccine passport to be implemented. It seems that we do not learn the lessons from history. Someone is always at hand to create an ‘us and them’ situation; Covid-19 has proven to be a good excuse for doing it again.
In previous posts I have set out my opinion on Covid-19 so I will just use a brief summary of the salient points here; Covid-19 is highly infectious but not particularly dangerous, which is why it is not classed as a deadly disease. The human immune system can, in the majority of cases, handle Covid-19 quite easily, 60-70% of people infected develop either no or only mild symptoms. I was infected in February 2020 and thought that I had a bit of a cold. The vaccines being used do not stop either infection or transmission of the virus, which is why people who have the vaccine have to continue with social distancing protocols. It is also why infections rates have not slowed down. Finally, in Britain, the choice not to have a vaccine is currently protected by law.
Despite all of the above being factually correct, it has no influence on the rush to establish an us and them situation through the imposition of vaccine passports. In social media anyone who raises a reasonable doubt about the vaccines is labelled an ‘anti-vaxxer’, irrespective of the merit of the argument that they present.
The justification frequently used is that of social responsibility, which can be summed up as follows: choosing not to have the vaccine puts both you and others at risk. The risk element is never quantified, however. Covid-19 is not classed as a high consequence infectious disease (HCID). Its mortality rate is less than 3%. The risk element is therefore low. For comparison, MERS, a form of the Covid virus, is classed as an HCID because it has a mortality rate of 34%. The risk element is clearly higher than that of Covid-19.
Here is an illustrative scenario of where we are at with Covid-19. Two people are put in the same room, one vaccinated and one not vaccinated. A third person who is infected with the Covid-19 virus enters the same room. There is an equal chance that the other two will both contract and transmit the disease. A vaccine passport proves only one thing, that someone had a vaccine. It makes no sense to claim that choosing not to have a Covid-19 vaccine represents a danger to others and that the removal of freedoms and rights should be a consequence of that decision.
But this post is not really about Covid-19, it is about how disturbingly quickly people move to proscribe the freedoms of others. I know of people who, when it comes to issues like racism, consider themselves to be supporters of movements such as Black Lives Matter, advocating greater tolerance and freedoms for other people, but who also endorse the imposition of severe control measures on anyone who does not qualify for a vaccine passport. Again, the passport is not the real issue for me, it is how quickly the us and them scenario develops and how quickly people are attracted to it, especially if they see themselves as being a part of the majority. I mentioned in another post that Jane Elliott’s Blue Eyes/ Brown Eyes experiment was intended to be an educational lesson on how discrimination works. You identify a difference in a group of people that effectively divides them and then one of the groups is demonised. Elliott used a very trivial trait to do this, put it proved no less effective for that. It seems that prejudice is latent in the human condition and any excuse will do to exercise it.
It is difficult to write on this subject and not make reference to anti-Semitism, simply because the treatment of the Jewish people in recent history has provided the most graphic example of where the us and them scenario can lead. Some might consider this an extreme example, an attempt to create hysteria perhaps, and not a genuine criticism of what is going on today. If you think that then maybe you are aware of the consequence of the holocaust, but not necessarily how it began. In Nazi Germany it began with the disabled. They became the victims of a governments misrepresentation of such people not having a right to life. The disabled became a ‘them’ and were removed from society, placed in detention camps, and then murdered. The majority of people did not protest. The process crept forward to include homosexuals and other degenerates. Then, the Romany people were included. Then the Jewish people. Then the Slavic people.
My point is that once you establish an acceptance of an us and them situation, it becomes very difficult to overturn it and repair the damage done. The Native Americans suffered a genocide as a result of just such a situation. They were the them. The black people, both as slaves and as the descendants of slaves, were represented as a them. Jewish people were represented as a them. In 1910, Winston Churchill, then Home Secretary, seriously proposed that at least 100,000 British people that he termed degenerate but meant working class, should be interred in labour camps and forcibly sterilised. The lower class became a them. In Cambodia, under the Khmer Rouge, the intellectuals became a them. Anyone can be labelled as a them.
The fact is that we appear to be in a rush once again to repeat the mistakes of the past. Only 23% of the world’s population have actually had a Covid-19 vaccine to date. Poorer countries lack both the resources and the infrastructure to implement the necessary programs, a situation that is probably going to be only exacerbated after both Pfizer and Moderna raised the price of the Covid vaccine, by 25% and 10% respectively. Are we to impose vaccine passport restrictions on 73% of the world’s population? Will they become the next them?