“Demonising vaccine ‘refuseniks’ is pointless and wrong,” argues a piece in Reaction. But this is what is happening in Britain right now: the Boris Johnson administration’s powerful propaganda machine is ramping up the pressure to get the entire country vaccinated and vaccine “refuseniks” are in the government’s crosshairs.
One of the government’s main propaganda mouthpieces, the Daily Mail, has helpfully seeded the idea that vaccine “refuseniks” are the main reason the country is being held back from reopening:
There has been irritation at the small number of people refusing to be vaccinated after Matt Hancock yesterday told MPs that most patients hospitalised by the new strain in the epicentre of the outbreak in Bolton had not had a jab.
Last night Tory ministers and MPs told the Prime Minister they would not accept the Covid curbs being extended to protect jab refuseniks.
They urged him to press ahead with the final stage of unlocking next month, even if scientists say the fast-spreading Indian variant poses a risk to the small band of anti-vaxxers.
This use of the word “refuseniks” is somewhat ironic. “Refuseniks” were dissidents in the Soviet Union — especially Jews who wanted to move to Israel, forbidden from emigrating because of their inconvenient political views. This is pretty much exactly how the British government is now treating people who, for whatever reason, feel uncomfortable about taking the jab. It is turning them into pariahs.
The campaign appears to be well co-ordinated.
Here is an editorial in The Sun, singing from the same hymn sheet:
They're all at it. Getting downright nasty. pic.twitter.com/8o7CfCPJBR
— Kate Dellor (@Kayyvon65) May 18, 2021
According to The Sun, people who don’t want to take the government’s jabs are “anti-vax conspiracy-theory clowns”, “internet weirdos”, “dimwits” and “Flat Earthers”.
“Jab them up”, the scary headline exhorts — hinting at the possibility that people may one day be physically forced to have these injections.
Various presenters on the supposedly independent London radio station LBC have chipped in with their views. Remarkably, despite their political differences, all seem to be unanimous that vaccine sceptics are The Problem.
Here is the station’s token “right-wing” commentator Nick Ferrari in a “fiery clash with a caller who doesn’t want to get the Covid jab”:
— LBC (@LBC) May 18, 2021
Here is fellow presenter Iain Dale — author of a book called Why Can’t We All Get Along — demonising vaccine refuseniks as “selfish”:
"A politician is never going to say this to you – but I will…"
— LBC (@LBC) May 17, 2021
Not to be outdone, here is LBC presenter Shelagh Fogarty, suggesting of vaccine sceptics that she might want to “poison their coffee” if she had to work with them, and that they are “off their rockers.”
Here’s Shelagh Fogarty bullying people who are afraid.
Suggesting she would “poison their coffee” & tell them they were “off their rockets” simply because they exercise their right to choose.
— Bernie's Tweets (@BernieSpofforth) May 17, 2021
It’s not just on-message presenters of woke radio stations who are taunting vaccine refuseniks. So too are various members of the celebrity wankerati.
They include chef Marco Pierre White, who believes vaccine passports should be made compulsory for diners:
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) May 17, 2021
And Rachel Johnson, the journalist sister of Prime Minister Boris Johnson:
Rachel Johnson said this. Thoughts? pic.twitter.com/ApQNfmqXhB
— James Melville 🌸 (@JamesMelville) May 17, 2021
The government’s priority, says Johnson, should be “not allowing anybody not to have the vaccine”. Nice!
Also eager to demonise vaccine sceptics is Dan Hodges, the journalist son of actress Glenda Jackson:
The anti-vaxers have been talking a good game on here for the past few months. But I'd politely suggest they start to dial it down. Because if we have to delay, or even reverse, the ending of Lockdown because of vaccine refusal there's going to be a backlash.
— (((Dan Hodges))) (@DPJHodges) May 17, 2021
And last but not least in this gallery of shame is composer turned toad impersonator Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Why does this man think he can influence anyone?
Is this representative of his anger over theatre closures?
We’re angry too. Doesn’t mean we want/will have/will be coerced into having the vaccine.
— Kathy Gyngell (@KathyConWom) May 18, 2021
Here, Lloyd Webber toadsplains that people who don’t want the Covid jab are as bad as drunk drivers.
Perhaps the fact that so many politicians, celebrities, semi-celebrities, radio show hosts, and columnists are vilifying vaccine sceptics simultaneously is the purest coincidence. Perhaps it has been deliberately orchestrated. Either way it doesn’t much matter: all we need remind ourselves is that whenever in history governments and their media and celebrity shills have sought to vilify minority groups there has never been a happy ending.
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