Antivaxxers love claiming the mantle of being “oppressed.” Indeed, they love it arguably as much as they love conspiracy theories demonizing vaccines as deadly. The most recent example that’s been in the news is the despicable manner in which they have been co-opting the Yellow Star of David, the cloth badge that the Nazis forced Jews to wear in Nazi-occupied territory in order to identify them and enforce their “otherness,” a tendency that I recently referred to as a form of Holocaust denial. So it should be no surprise that, with the approach of Juneteenth this Saturday, antivaxxers are trying to co-opt this long-running commemoration among Blacks that came into more prominence last year after the murder of George Floyd in order to promote the message that, like the Blacks whose slavery finally ended on Juneteenth in 1865, they are enslaved.
I kid you not.
Before I recount just how much antivaxxers love to claim the mantle of “oppression” and to what despicable and sometimes ridiculous lengths they’ll go to do it, let’s take a look at this event and its headliner, Naomi Wolf.
Naomi Wolf vs. Juneteenth
Naomi Wolf is headlining an antivaccine and COVID-19 antimask and anti-“lockdown” event on Juneteenth designed to promote “liberation” from COVID-19 mandates:
Here’s the promotional poster:
And here the event is, as reported in Salon.com by Nicole Karlis:
After promoting conspiracy theories and unfounded claims about the COVID-19 vaccines on social media, Naomi Wolf’s Twitter account was suspended. Once admired and embraced by third-wave feminists after publishing her first book, “The Beauty Myth,” Wolf has deviated over the years into a conspiracy theorist and a COVID truther. From repeatedly pushing the false claim that a vaccinated woman’s menstrual cycle can throw off an unvaccinated woman’s cycle to more recently suggesting that the sewage of vaccinated people needed to be separated from those who are unvaccinated, Wolf’s divergence exemplifies an ongoing trend in which the fringe left unites with the fringe right under the anti-vaccine umbrella.
This year, on Juneteenth — or June 19th, also known as Freedom Day — the latest variation of the anti-vaccine movement will be in peak form as it co-opts a celebration meant to commemorate the emancipation of those who were enslaved in the United States.
According to an event listing being promoted by the “medical freedom for all” organization Do We Need This, and first reported by Eoin Higgins in his newsletter, Wolf is headlining a fundraiser that day titled “Liberate Our Five Freedoms,” which will cost $25 at the door (cash only). The event, which will take place in a small town in Columbia County in upstate New York, seeks to appropriate a holiday honoring the end of slavery by focusing on the “five freedoms” that anti-vaxxers claim have been taken away from them. Mask mandates and vaccine passports are among the policies that they say have infringed on their “freedoms.”
The event is going to be held on Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the end of chattel slavery in the US. Event organizer Kathryn Levin told me that in her view, it’s appropriate.
“The 19th is a day of emancipation, and it’s a day when we claim our freedom,” said Levin. “It’s when we see that we are not slaves to mandate. It’s when we take our power back.”
I asked Levin how she analogized American chattel slavery—where slaves were whipped, beaten, raped, and murdered by their white masters for centuries—to the temporary restrictions over the last 15 months due to the pandemic.
“We have been enslaved by our government,” she replied.
Because, as I like to say, being required to wear a mask and being urged to be vaccinated against a deadly disease are just like being enslaved. The only appropriate reaction to such a comparison is:
But what about Naomi Wolf? How did she end up at such an event?
Whatever happened to Naomi Wolf?
I haven’t written about Naomi Wolf on this blog before, as hard as that is for me to believe given how far off the deep end she’s gone in terms of COVID-19 conspiracy theories. It’s also true. Before news of this Juneteenth event started spreading, Wolf had recently been suspended from Twitter for spreading COVID-19 and antivaccine disinformation. My only regret is that I never took screenshots of the more wild examples. Fortunately for me, though, others did.
This was perhaps the most hilarious example, although I sort of hoped that it was true. I’ve always wanted to time travel:
As you can see, Wolf was not just an antivax, COVID-19 conspiracy mongering crank, but rather an all-purpose crank. Unfortunately, she was a primary promoter of the false claims that COVID-19 vaccines lead to the “shedding” of spike protein, which then sickens the unvaccinated and causes miscarriages, infertility, and menstrual abnormalities in women. Worse, she posted innumerable Tweets promoting this disinformation over many, many months. Those of us who’ve combatted antivaccine disinformation for a long time were not amazed that Twitter finally suspended her account. Rather, we were amazed that it took so damned long for Twitter to do it.
Actually, on second thought, this is the most hilarious example of Naomi Wolf’s crank stylings:
You saw it! Someone tricked Wolf into Tweeting a meme featuring a picture of a porn star dressed as a doctor and a fake quote questioning COVID-19 vaccines as though he were a real doctor providing a real quote. At that point, I almost felt sorry for Wolf for being so clueless. Almost. Unfortunately, she’s beyond shame, and, as a fellow of the right American Institute of Economic Research (AIER), she’s helped to promote what the eugenics-adjacent Great Barrington Declaration, which advocated just letting COVID-19 rip through the young and healthy population and use “focused protection” to protect the elderly and those vulnerable due to chronic health conditions. Unfortunately, she fit right in with her whole “freedom” schtick.
The emergence of Naomi Wolf during the pandemic as one of the foremost purveyors of COVID-19 and antivaccine conspiracy theories and disinformation surprised a lot of people. Indeed, as her antivaccine stylings became loonier and loonier, there were more and more articles like this one by Ian Burrell in Business Insider entitled Naomi Wolf’s slide from feminist, Democratic Party icon to the ‘conspiracist whirlpool’:
Many old friends and admirers of Naomi Wolf are horrified. The great figurehead of 1990s “third wave” feminism, who bestrode the highest pinnacles of literature and politics to become an inspiration to a generation of young women, has morphed into something other than the Naomi they thought they knew.
Wolf was the author of The Beauty Myth, a classic text that seemed to define the dichotomies of late 20th Century womanhood, and which became the first of her eight New York Times best-sellers. The book’s global popularity was enhanced by the dazzle of the author’s own persona as a product of Yale and Oxford who seemed to feel the pain of other women, in spite of her own obvious privileges.
With her apparently impeccable Democratic credentials she stood at the shoulders of Bill Clinton and Al Gore during their respective presidential campaigns, imparting her counsel as a trusted adviser. It was a time when great significance was discerned by many in every word that Wolf wrote or uttered. “The Beauty Myth was a really big deal and it was really smart, it did land her a lot of fame and a lot of plaudits” says Rosie Boycott, feminist pioneer, member of Britain’s House of Lords and co-founder of Virago, Wolf’s publisher. “She was clever and a good speaker and very competent and she rode a big wave.”
Just like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Naomi Wolf is a good example for liberals on why we shouldn’t be too smug. Although right here, right now, the loudest and most influential COVID-19 conspiracy theorists and antivaxxers are on the right, people on the political left are prone to the same sorts of belief in conspiracy theories. Indeed, it’s been pointed out how easily Naomi Wolf became a fellow of the right-wing, climate science-denying AIER, a group that has likened its antimask, anti-“lockdown,” antivaccine, and anti-public health stances as akin to abolitionists fighting slavery. Her willingness to hold one of her “Five Freedoms” events on Juneteenth in order to help antivaxxers co-opt the day is one example of why.
She might have been clever and a good speaker, but it turns out that her pivot to conspiracy mongering Twitter crank should not have been as unexpected as it was to so many. Indeed, her seminal book The Beauty Myth was so full of the misuse and misstatement of statistics on anorexia that Caspar Shoemaker of the Trimbos Institute published an article in Eating Disorders in 2004 entitled A critical appraisal of the anorexia statistics in The Beauty Myth: introducing Wolf’s Overdo and Lie Factor (WOLF), concluding:
When compared to the relevant epidemiological reviews, however, 18 of the 23 statistics are inaccurate and overdone. On average, a statistic on anorexia by Naomi Wolf should be divided by eight to get close to the real figure.
More recently, Wolf published a book about the criminalization of same-sex relationships in the Victorian era that was so inaccurate and presented such wildly implausible claims for “dozens” of executions for homosexual relationships that her US publisher canceled its publication because of concerns about its accuracy. There are many other examples, but enough about Naomi Wolf. Let’s move on to how this Juneteenth event is very much emblematic of antivaxxers being antivaxxers.
Juneteenth: Another example of antivaxxers donning a fake mantle of oppression
One of the most prominent characteristics of antivaxxers (besides their tendency to believe in conspiracy theories) is their intense need to view themselves as victims. Along the way, they have likened “forced vaccination” to all manner of evils, including slavery (including its modern incarnation, human trafficking), the Holocaust, rape, pedophilia (don’t ask),Nazi-ism. I can’t list them all, but I’ve written about many of them right here.
This tendency leads them to do some truly despicable things by co-opting the history of people who really were persecuted, even to the point of genocidal persecution. Indeed, it was just two weeks ago that I referred to the longstanding tendency of antivaxxers to don replicas of the Yellow Star of David altered to read “unvaccinated” or something similar instead of “Juden.” I referred to this misappropriation of the Yellow Star as a form of Holocaust denial, and so it is, given the way that it likens something that is not persecution (school and other vaccine mandates) to the genocidal persecution of European Jews by the Nazis.
That was nowhere near the first time I had seen antivaxxers co-opt the Yellow Star. I first noticed them using the Yellow Star this way dating back at least to 2015. However, it hasn’t just been misuse of the Yellow Star. Before they stumbled on that particular form of misappropriation of Holocaust symbolism, antivaxxers loved to compare vaccines and vaccine mandates to the Holocaust and governments requiring vaccine mandates to Hitler and the Nazis. I went into more detail about the history of this particularly odious tactic by antivaxxers in this post, but I’ll nonetheless list a couple of examples here, such as when “Dr. Bob” Sears went full Godwin over vaccine mandates and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. described the “vaccine-induced autism epidemic” as a “Holocaust.”
Another favorite variation of this particular gambit is to describe vaccine mandates as somehow being a violation the Nuremberg Code, the ethical rules for the protection of human research subjects laid down after the Nazi Doctors’ Trial at Nuremberg. The implication, of course, is that the vaccines required by such mandates are somehow “experimental” and being forced upon children without the informed consent of their parents. It’s a neat trick rendered utterly deceptive by the simple fact that school vaccine requirements are not experimental. Unfortunately, in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, with COVID-19 vaccines having been distributed under emergency use authorizations (EUAs) in the US, it’s been easier to portray COVID-19 vaccines as “experimental.” This conflates legal with scientific definitions. These vaccines went through the same clinical trials that any FDA-approved vaccine goes through, with phase 1, 2, and 3 trials, the last of which involved tens of thousands of subjects. Since then, they’ve been administered to hundreds of millions of people with a generally excellent safety record. While legally they might still be considered “investigational,” from a scientific standpoint they are not. Not any more. Soon, given that Moderna and Pfizer are applying for full FDA licensure, they won’t even be “investigational” from a legal standpoint.
Antivaxxers don’t just co-opt analogies related to the Nazi persecution and extermination of Jews, though. More recently, they’ve hit on the strategy of falsely portraying themselves as the “new civil rights movement.” However, that was just a new wrinkle. Antivaxxers have long portrayed vaccine mandates as “slavery.” For example, let’s go back to an antivaccine march on Washington, DC from four years ago. Back then, antivaxxers likened the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which created the Vaccine Court and the primary method of compensating people who suffer legitimate vaccine injury, to the Dredd Scott decision and made children “property, not people.” (I kid you not!) They were even likening antivaxxers to the “new abolitionists.” Does that sound familiar? It should? Last fall, the AIER likened public health interventions to slow the spread of COVID-19, including mask mandates and “lockdowns,” to slavery and its efforts to resist them to the slavery abolitionist movement.
Let me quote RFK Jr., when he spoke to an antimask, anti-“lockdown” rally in Berlin:
They are doing what they’re told. These government agencies are orchestrating obedience, and it is not democratic; it’s not the product of democracy.
It’s the product of a pharmaceutical driven, biosecurity agenda that will enslave the entire human race and plunge us into a dystopian nightmare where the apocalyptical forces of ignorance and greed will be running our lives and ruining our children and destroying all the dreams and dignity that we hope to give to our children.
Aging rock star Eric Clapton likes to compare mask mandates and vaccines to slavery as well, you know, because mask mandates and vaccines to slow the spread of a deadly disease are just like slavery for hundreds of years. Let’s just put it this way. If you’ve convinced yourself that vaccine mandates and the potential of “vaccine passports” are “slavery” and that you are being “persecuted” for your beliefs, then it’s a short hop to using Juneteenth to spread your message.
The hypocrisy is particularly rich, too. Let’s go back to 2019, when I first noticed antivaxxers likening themselves to the “new civil rights movement.” At the time they were protesting at the California State Capitol Building a bill being considered to eliminate certain loopholes in SB 277, the law that had eliminated nonmedical “personal belief exemptions” to school vaccine mandates.
As I discussed at the time:
As I said at the time, “all lives matter” is a phrase based on a misunderstanding of “Black Lives Matter,” whose purpose as a retort is to dismiss the concerns of the Black Lives Matter movement and take the focus away from the concerns of Blacks and police violence against them. That’s not what I considered (or consider) the “new civil rights movement.” The irony was that, when it comes to infectious disease, all lives do matter, but antivaxxers apparently didn’t (and still don’t) think the lives of those who need legitimate medical exemptions to school vaccine mandates matter, given how they don’t care if they degrade herd immunity and make the likelihood of outbreaks higher. Similarly, they don’t seem to care now whether those refusing COVID-19 vaccines facilitate the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Basically, antivaxers chanting “All lives matter” was both racist, an indication of their obliviousness, and ironic in the worst way possible when it came to infectious disease.
Similarly, antivaxxers have shown a history of anti-Asian racism, as demonstrated by images of this sort that proliferated on social media even before the pandemic. Let’s just say that comparing Asian-American legislators who favored strong vaccine mandates to Chairman Mao was a favorite theme:
By then (again, months before the pandemic hit the US), antivaxxers were consorting with and allying themselves with far right wing militias, such as the California State Militia:
Now here’s something about that day that resonates in a very disturbing way. Antivaxxers came very close to storming the California State Capitol Building:
They even occupied the Senate chamber:
Meanwhile, their anti-Asian bigotry continued to be aimed at Senator Richard Pan:
Doesn’t this sound eerily like a dress rehearsal for the January 6 uprising that occurred in Washington, DC?
Be that as it may, before they started considering themselves to be the “new civil rights movement,” antivaxxers were furiously trying to recruit Blacks and other minorities to their cause, complete with numerous references to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and the history of poor treatment (or at best unequal) treatment of Blacks by the medical system. For example, Del Bigtree and Andrew Wakefield went to Compton to try to win Blacks there to antivaccine conspiracy theories using the “CDC whistleblower” conspiracy theory in their then-new antivaccine propaganda movie disguised as a documentary, VAXXED. (Remember, the “CDC whistleblower” conspiracy theory at the center of VAXXED was that the CDC had “covered up” scientific evidence that the MMR vaccine increased the risk of autism by four-fold in Black boys. In another example, RFK, Jr. went to Harlem to do the same thing, using more than just one conspiracy theory. (Fortunately, it was a fiasco.) Before that they were trying to convince the Somali immigrant community in Minnesota that vaccines cause autism, and more recently they descended on Samoa in the middle of a deadly measles outbreak to try to convince Samoans that the MMR caused the outbreak, even as they denied that measles can kill.
Given their long history of conspiracy theories and their love of luxuriating under the mantle of fake victimhood, coupled with preponderance of whiteness and privilege among the antivaccine movement, it should come as no surprise that someone like Naomi Wolf would co-opt a holiday like Juneteenth. After all, they regularly co-opt the Holocaust and the Yellow Star of David and traffic in imagery of vaccines as “slavery.” The only reason they haven’t co-opted Juneteenth before is likely because they hadn’t known about it. The murder of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter movement changed that last year, leading everyone to know the significance of Juneteenth, which had been a holiday primarily observed by African-Americans.
It’s a good thing that Juneteenth is now much more widely celebrated. The only bad thing is that antivaxxers learned of another symbol of injustice that they could try to claim for their own.We should all honor Juneteenth as the anniversary of the end of a great evil, but we should do it the right way and for the right reasons. That is not at all what antivaxxers are about. They do not celebrate Juneteenth. They dishonor it.
56 replies on “Juneteenth and Naomi Wolf: Antivaxxers co-opt another symbol to portray themselves as “oppressed””
It’s tragic, but highly intelligent people often become arrogant and develop blind spots. But it’s still sad when it happens.
Naomi Wolf has enough blind spots to hide a freeway full of cars in. I have always thought that for Naomi Wolf the truth was optional and she twisted the facts for whatever point she was pushing at the time. She has always been prone to conspiracy theories. Her embrace of anti-vaccination has just made it so much more obvious.
Again, I did not know her before, but her reactions to corrections on Twitter strongly suggested that she did not care if she was saying something untrue.
Here’s a recent book review that makes the case that Naomi Wolf has been a crackpot for years.
But of course they do.
In the minds of anti-vaxxers, no one in the history of the world has ever been treated as badly as them. Just ask Greg, who thinks having a disabled child is worse then being murdered.
Their victimhood means so much to them, they can’t allow anyone else the claim of being worse off than them.
It is tedious in the extreme and shows a complete lack of all proportion. When I read these things, I often feel that those claiming them have not got past the emotional age of 2.
the same naomi wolf who retweeted a fake anti-vaccination quote with a picture of adult film star Johnny Sins, thinking it was a quote from a genuine doctor-https://www.ladbible.com/community/weird-naomi-wolf-tricked-into-sharing-fake-quote-and-picture-of-adult-star-20210322
I’d never heard of Naomi Wolf before today. I wish I’d remained ignorant. You’ve done a great job of highlighting her, um, ‘greatest hits’. How is it possible for someone to progress so far in the political arena and yet be so completely unaware of history, society and science?
I haven’t heard of her until she became anti-vaccine, but she was certainly anti-vaccine with the worst of them, and accepted very far-out claims, including “mRNA vaccines are software” and “being around vaccinated people can cause serious problems”.
It is not so far fetched. Public health, after all, is human husbandry. Of course it is marketed as being in the best interests of individuals, and families, and communities, but it is really in the best interest of the herd owners. This is made transparent by terms like “herd immunity”. Public health is not about the personal welfare of citizens; it is about the economic welfare of the state. We may not be forced to do slave labor, but if prophylactics are forced upon us, it will be clear that we are livestock.
Really? Not having sewage running through the streets is “not about the personal welfare of citizens”? Not having people with tuberculosis coughing up their lungs and infecting others, children paralysed by polio and forced to live in iron lungs, people blinded and deafened by measles, cancers caused by HPV and Hep-B is “not about the personal welfare of citizens”?
If ignorance was bliss, you’d be in a coma of euphoria.
The state wants to grow the herd! No, the state wants to cull the herd by 90%! The depopulation scheme is a deadly pandemic engineered by the Chinese Communists! No, the depopulation scheme is to create a panic over a virus that is no worse than the flu, so people can be forced to receive a deadly “vaccine”!
All of these things are, of course, true simultaneously.
You are, sadly, correct.
Julian, isn’t it amazing what taxes will pay for? Mostly to ensure the flow of more taxes. Never doubt that you are valuable to your owners.
Trying to prevent a deadly pandemic is just like treating people like animals?? How do people get so bad at thinking? You have committed the ambiguity fallacy – conflating herd from the whimsical term “herd immunity” with herd as used to describe a group of (unthinking) animals.
“Deadly pandemic”, are you sure about that? Looks to me more like lies, damned lies, and statistics. Nobody I know knows anyone who has died with the virus. Not even my 90 year old grandma. And she lives in one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the U.S.
You imply that the human herd is not unthinking? So why does the “pro science” side resort to the lowest of propaganda in order to herd the sheep? “Wear a mask or you will be an accessory to murder”, “Take the vaccine and we will give you free junk food or drugs or lotto tickets”. No understanding is offered, just self righteous arm twisting. Basic appeals to shame and greed. I believe the euphemism for this is “science communication” (which ultimately denotes “pious fraud”). You should be embarrassed to carry water for such propagandists.
You could have stopped with the pseudonym.
@Noosphere Death is just a statistical lie,is it not ?
Anti-vaxxers like Kim Rossi/ Katie Wright often cried “Oppression!” because they were women. So to them, vaccine advocates are prejudiced against women, Blacks and Jewish people! Today, Apartheid! is highlighted by AoA’s Ann Dachel. I’m surprised they’re not also co-opting Pride month. Give them time..
I was never a fan even of her earlier work. Wikipedia has an extensive list of her activities and positions. She seemed to me like someone always seeking celebrity rather than historical/ sociological excellence. Her inaccurate numbers and misunderstanding of the UK legal quotes are enough to tarnish her brand irrevocably for me: if you get stuff like that wrong, it shows your lack of ability and comprehension- that’s hard to fix.
More recently, Mike Adams admired her and is seeking her out for an interview on his daily rant show ( NN) which now frequently runs over an hour. She has appeared and been quoted at PRN ( surprise!) where she also will have a weekly show called Clout. The hoary old host can use her as an example to prove that he is truly a liberal because he gathers all the most “remarkable minds” who are “progressive” not corporate. People are abandoning the democratic party ( as well as the cities, university education and Wikipedia) he claims.
It’s both interesting and enlightening to notice how all of these malcontents coalesce in spots like NN, PRN, CHD, Del’s High Wire, Mercola. Perhaps shutting down their social media has forced them to obviously display their alliances. I know that some have migrated to MeWe, Parler, Gab, Telegram, BitChute, Brighteon but they’re harder to find . GOOD!
I’m not surprised, but as a South African, I’m absolutely disgusted.
In South Africa, tomorrow is Youth Day, a public holiday. On June 16th 1976, students in Soweto protesting against the use of afrikaans in teaching were fired on by Police. No fewer than 176 were killed, with some estimates putting the death toll at as many as 700.
That Dachel and the mob at AoA would try to portray themselves as oppressed people in the same way as black South Africans tells you everything about their attitudes.
her event is taking place in GHENT, NY?
Holy crap! That is quite out of the ordinary as it is a really small town about 100 miles or so north of the city.
Trying to figure out for the life of me WHY Ghent NY ( I have a relative nearby) but eoinhiggins.substack:( ‘Fresh Off Twitter, ..) ,
it seems that anti-vax and far right have “exploded in Columbia County”
NY state is a patchwork of red and blue areas, hard to predict- rural areas, hipster/ hippie towns . If you look at 2020 presidential election results by county maps, you’ll see what I mean about the Hudson Valley. This town is lower income and seems rural . 1% Black population. Images show some lovely canals. Who knew? It’s also near Massachusetts which has freedom groups.
Instead of holding the event in Ghent*, Naomi Wolf should have opted for the town of Orleans, N.Y.
That way she could’ve compared herself to Joan of Arc.
Orleans is however a bit less convenient than Ghent if you’re trying to draw people from the NYC area, as it’s located north of Watertown.
*the event in Ghent? The thrilla in Manila!
**There is a Little Manila in Queens, meaning the food has got to be better than what you could find in Ghent.
1% Black people in a total population of 5000 in Ghent, NY? Must be why they chose that town to do their hijacking of Juneteenth. Who cares about offending such a small minority?
Interestingly, NY state 2020 presidential election Columbia county went for Biden 64%!
as aside- I notice the photos of the Freedom Angels above – see white tiered dress– I’d know it anywhere, west coast or east, wherever she goes.
I was wondering where my dark batik tablecloth had gone, as well.
Columbia 57% Biden
As a South African, raised under apartheid, the idea of having to show my covid pass in order to get access to places and to associate with people is deeply reminiscent of the show-your-papers system that existed in apartheid South Africa. We called it the ‘dompas’ and it puzzles me deeply that progressive people could possibly support the implementation of such a system here in the US.
Riiiiiight. Because showing you have been vaccinated against a disease is exactly the same as being discriminated against and restricted from certain areas because of the colour of your skin. /sarcasm
Not even four hours ago, President Ramaphosa announced a return to Level 3 lockdown as the infection and death rates from COVID had jumped. In every country where vaccination has been rolled out, infection rates and deaths have gone into freefall. The sooner everyone gets vaccinated, the sooner we will put lockdown behind us.
Demanding the unvaccinated congregate in smaller groups or avoid people at risk is not discrimination, it is safety.
I am done with entitled antivaxxers arrogating the mantle of the persecuted to themselves. They aren’t.
But you have to show a yellow fever vaccination card to enter South Africa from many countries, even if you only had an airport layover.
Are you angry about that too?
Fortunately, you recognize that the similarity of these two situations is merely superficial, and that the reality is that they are the exact opposite. Reasoning by analogy is tempting, but often foolish. Please get vaccinated.
Who paves your roads? Asking for a friend.
it’s never good to be smug. But it’s foolish to imagine that any given personal characteristic would somehow inoculate people from crankitude — not education in science, not being a practicing MD, certainly also not being a “liberal” which is an awful broad and vague category. The backgrounds of any individual crank are only relevant to the extent that they typify some larger tendency. I don’t see Wolf’s history as a “progressive” or “feminist” as typifying anything. OTOH, her background of privilege, Oxford and Yale pedigrees, status not just as a celebrity, but as an icon of a social movement, all speak to the possibility of of a kind of fragility, a “fear of falling”, at tinge of narcissism that we see often among antivaxers.
That said, I want to argue that ‘the nature of antivaxers’ is not the appropriate peg for the OP. Not that anything Orac notes about antivaxers is wrong — e.g. they do indeed love claiming the mantle of being “oppressed.” Just that these long-standing antivaxer claims are now subsumed within and employed in service of a much larger, and differently located, claim to the mantle of being oppressed. i speak, of course, about ‘conservative populism’/Trumpism/fascism.
If we’re going to talk about crank tendencies for different political positions/affiliations, what’s telling here is that the ‘progressives’ like Wolf and RFKJ are getting no traction from their own supposed communities, and have run off to hang with the Righties of AIER and Great Barrington, and that they’re echoing racist, anti-semitic, and violent rhetoric with the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene.
“.. ‘progressives’ like Wolf and RFKJ are getting no traction from their own supposed communities..”
Right. Have you ever looked at the gaping distance between Covid vaccination rates/ attitudes between reds and blues? Staggering.
What’s been odd (but hopeful) to me is that several of the hippy-dippy-trippy anti-vax counties in my state have some of the highest COVID vaccination rates.
I don’t know if that’s because they got some sense scared into them, or because they didn’t want to be lumped in with folks in the “red” counties, but I’ll take it.
Looking at the NY state vaccine tracker map, I see that most of the counties near the river have rates over 45% ( the highest level depicted) except for two southern ones which are well-known for more rightist sentiments but still almost as high uptake..
I asked my cousin about Ghent: she says it’s a small town, nothing special , Higgins’ article portrays some residents as back-to-the-land types- liberal but wary of intervention by the government.
NY state has a great variety of really diverse places – haunts of the ruling class circa 1900, artists ‘escaping Brooklyn , post hippie havens and Black-centric small cities
In light of recent announcements concerning re-opening, there won’t be that much oppression to protest. I know: they’ll start on schools, vaccine passports, etc..5G .
“Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”
I don’t know how this will go over with Wolf’s crowd but NY’s governor rescinded virtually all of the state’s Covid restrictions today because they now have 70% of adults with at least one dose of the vaccine.
They will claim it is all due to their pressure on the Governor?
I don’t doubt the ability of these people to spout several conflicting views on the same topic, so long as the outcome looks like all vaccines are bad.
I already have to show evidence of influenza vaccination to visit my elderly relatives in nursing homes.*
Somehow I have missed the whole bit where I am being oppressed. Most likely because I took the obvious option of getting a seasonal flu vaccination.
*There is now getting to be a distinct lack of elderly relatives in or outside nursing homes. It comes as a bit of a shock when you realise that you are the oldest generation left in the family.
As someone pointed out above, she has coasted on a kind of sophistry for years. I read The Beauty Myth and then abandoned it when it became clear that the entire premise was her own disaffection and that the only people who would consider her a genuine third-wave feminist would be those who shared her sense of grievance. This was not scholarship nor genuine social analysis; it was based on illusory generalizations and poor research. The New York Times review cited above which points out that she has always been a bit of a clever crackpot is unfortunately behind a paywall.
i subscribe to NYT, so here you go:
Naomi Wolf’s long, ludicrous career has followed a simple formula. She audits herself for some speck of dissatisfaction, arrives at an epiphany — one that might contravene any number of natural laws — and then extrapolates a set of rules and recommendations for all women. Predictable controversy ensues; grouchy reviews and much attention. Over the years her batty claims have included that a woman’s brain can allow her to become pregnant if she so desires, even if she is using birth control; that women’s intellects and creativity are dependent on their sexual fulfillment and, specifically, the skillful ministrations of a “virile man”; and that writing a letter to a breech baby will induce it to turn right side up.
That her advice can contradict itself from book to book doesn’t appear to distress her (she fluctuates between regarding women as all-powerful sorceresses and abjectly dependent). The method has worked too efficiently, and at every stage of her life — as a young woman protesting beauty standards (“The Beauty Myth”) through motherhood (“Misconceptions”) and, later, the aging of her parents (“The Treehouse”), as she has grappled with her ambition (“Fire With Fire”) and her sex life (“Vagina”). Always the books are lit by a strange messianic energy, shored up by dubious data and structured around a moment of crisis and revelation as some veil — some long-held notion — falls away.
Recently, we had the opportunity to witness such a revelation in real time. Wolf was a guest on a BBC radio program, publicizing her new book, “Outrages,” a study of the criminalization of same-sex relationships in the Victorian era. She spoke passionately about discovering “several dozen executions” of men, including teenagers, accused of having sex with other men.
“Several dozen executions? I don’t think you’re right about this,” the host, Matthew Sweet, said, very politely filleting one of Wolf’s central claims. What Wolf regarded as evidence of executions — the notation of “death recorded” on court records — indicated, in fact, the opposite, that the judge had recommended a pardon from the death sentence. Sweet said he could find no evidence that anyone had ever been executed for sodomy in Victorian Britain, and furthermore, that Wolf mistakenly regarded sodomy in the court records as referring exclusively to homosexuality when, in fact, it was also used for child abuse. “I can’t find any evidence that any of the relationships you describe were consensual,” he pointed out.
It was a surprisingly cordial interaction, however. Wolf took the news on the chin, and later expressed her gratitude: “It’s such an important story and I welcome the chance to correct these two out of hundreds of citations and make it perfect.” Her publishers regretted the error but stated they believed the overall thesis still held.
Does it? In a very general sense. The book grew out of Wolf’s 2015 doctoral dissertation at Oxford, on the poet John Addington Symonds. She argues that 1857, the year Symonds turned 17, was one of the pivotal years of history, when a confluence of social factors — ideas about disease and contagion, a nascent women’s rights movement — whipped up a storm of “hysterical moral aversion” to homosexuality, culminating in the state’s encroachment on private life, those arrests and the executions that Sweet contested.
Symonds, a lifelong invalid, wrote relentlessly about the naturalness of same-sex desire. He circulated explicit poems among his friends, corresponded with Walt Whitman, collaborated with the sexologist Havelock Ellis and wrote a memoir that he left to be published posthumously. He was a great reformer, according to Henry James, and, to Wolf, one of the first modern gay activists.
Even if Symonds did not write under the threat of execution, there was still, at the time, the risk of blackmail, imprisonment, disgrace. His fear, and his bravery, is not in doubt. Henry James’s great story “The Beast in the Jungle” is often read as an allegory for the silences of gay lives in history, the secrecy, loneliness and negations (not least those of James’s own life). How fully Symonds lived in contrast; he was open with his wife, who seems to have accepted him, and his daughters. He sought out sex and love, and found a lifelong companion in Angelo Fusato, a gondolier.
But Wolf’s errors matter. She has backpedaled since the scandal, insisting that hers is not meant to be a “social investigation” but the analysis of a “mood” — never mind how explicitly her book argues that one year — 1857 — saw the birth of state-created homophobia, as she sees it, with ramifications that continue to this day. The mistakes matter because this book takes as one of its great subjects our duties as stewards of history, of the care and preservation of texts; a long, lavish opening sequence reveals the ritual one must undertake before handling Symonds’s manuscripts. They matter because although there are stretches of the book that I enjoyed — there is a hint of A. S. Byatt’s “Possession” as Wolf plays literary detective in the archives, puzzling over Symonds’s codes and concealments — I don’t trust it. My woman’s brain might be capable of such wonders as turning a rogue breech baby right side up, but it can’t quite overlook Wolf’s distinguished career of playing loose with facts and the historical record.
Her first, career-making book, “The Beauty Myth,” is well-known for exaggerating the number of women who died of anorexia (Wolf stated that anorexia kills 150,000 women annually; the actual figure at the time, in the mid-1990s, was said to be closer to 50 or 60). One academic paper found that fully 18 of the 23 statistics about anorexia in the book were inaccurate and coined a term — “WOLF” (Wolf’s Overdo and Lie Factor) — to determine the degree to which Wolf was wrong: “On average, a statistic on anorexia by Naomi Wolf should be divided by eight to get close to the real figure.”
Reviews of her book on fascism argued, as one put it, that she “consistently mutilated the truth with selective and ultimately deceptive use of her sources.” And “Vagina” so profoundly misrepresented the working of the brain, I’m not sure science writers have recovered. “This is a very troubling interpretation of science. I can’t find the data behind her claims,” Beverly Whipple, the scientist who discovered the G-spot, said upon reading it. “Is this fiction or nonfiction?”
This is to say nothing of Wolf’s unhinged public pronouncements. She has alleged the American military is importing Ebola from Africa with an intention of spreading it at home, that Edward Snowden might be a government plant and that she has seen the figure of Jesus while she was (inexplicably) in the form of a 13-year-old boy. She appeared on Alex Jones’s show, and accused the government of intercepting and reading her daughter’s mail.
Throughout it all, she remains impervious to criticism. “I’m lucky,” she said in a recent profile in The Guardian. “I had a good education. I know my books are true.”
Not accurate or factual, but true. This is a key to understanding why charges of sloppiness or misrepresentation don’t seem to stymie, or even embarrass, writers like Wolf (or Jared Diamond and Annie Jacobsen, who have both been involved in similar scandals in recent weeks, facing them with the same blithe indifference). The issue isn’t simply that publishers don’t spring for fact-checking and leave writers vulnerable to making such errors. These writers see themselves in service of something larger than grubby reporting. “The important thing is that these stories are told,” Wolf recently told The Times of London. They are the emissaries of great stories, suppressed stories, and if they take liberties or eschew careful research — as consistently as Wolf has done — it is because they believe they have a right to them, that the story, the cause, somehow sanctions it.
As one of the scientists whom Wolf consulted for “Vagina” protested on her behalf: “Can’t we allow an accomplished writer and social critic a little poetic leeway to make a point?” As a bonus, there is a neat defense built into this line of thinking. Any criticism can be dismissed as an attempt to repress vital, challenging new knowledge.
When Symonds was a young man and fearful of his desires, he called his homosexuality “the wolf,” and struggled to contain it. Of course there was nothing to contain, nothing to dread — as he later rejoiced, in his sonnets, pamphlets and fantastically frank memoirs.
If there is a different wolf at the door, the consolation will be that Symonds’s work will find new readers anyway; it will continue, in the words of his great friend Whitman, “to tell the secret of my nights and days, / to celebrate the need of comrades.”
Thanks for this.
In other anti-vax news…
( Variety) Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters** played a small venue in SoCal for vaccinated only who had to show PROOF of their status in order to purchase tickets. Concert goers were greeted by a few dozen anti-vaxxers carrying the well-known signs ( sold by Joshua Coleman) .On Sunday, the group will play Madison Square Garden with the same requirement: I’m not sure if that’s the whole venue or not but anti-vaxxers will go mad (der than they already are!) Thousands of vaccinated people in the street, spewing spike proteins! Environmental hazard!
** didn’t they once have an issue with vaccines or another reality based aspect of SBM?
To be honest, the only way I can envision that playing large venues like MSG could possibly be safe in the era of the pandemic is to impose a requirement that all attendees, workers, and performers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
It also depends on where your are in the world. Australia has managed to keep infection rates low enough, even though out vaccination progress has been dismal, to be able to open large sporting venues to open, though with some restrictions.
Here are the conditions of entry for the 2021 Australian Football League season (southern hemisphere winter) matches at the Melbourne Cricket ground (capacity ~100000). The COVID precautions are near the bottom of the page:
However, the MCG is open air, unlike MSG.
But here in Canberra where I live, we are able to attend concerts and plays at indoor venues without any restrictions on seating numbers or on a requirement to wear masks. The only COVID requirements are to sanitize hands on entry and to register as having atteded the venue for contact tracing should it be necessary.
The last known COVID case in the ACT (where Canberra is) was on 10 Apr, the one before that was on 11 Mar. Both cases were in overseas arrivals. The last known case of community transmission in the ACT was 11 Jun 2020.
Australia’s vaccination effort, though, leaves a lot to be desired: so far only 6.1 million doses have been administered of the 40 million required to fully vaccinate all adults. 🙁
More evidence of repression: the Wiley journal Clinical and Translational Medicine has retracted a December 2020 article by former NIH researcher Mahin Khatami headlined “Deceptology in cancer and vaccine sciences”, which included the following revelations:
“Four generations of drug-dependent Americans strongly suggest that medical establishment has practiced decades of intellectual deception through its claims on “war on cancer”; that cancer is 100, 200, or 1000 diseases; identification of “individual” genetic mutations to cure diseases; “vaccines are safe”. Such immoral and unethical practices, along with intellectual harassment and bullying, censoring or silencing of independent and competent professionals (“Intellectual Me Too”) present grave concerns”
While our Evil Overlords have succeeded in suppressing this paper, they haven’t yet managed to erase an earlier article in which Khatami boldly asserted that cancer is a 20th century induced disease, invoking increased entropy, dark energy and loss of biorhythms, or a commentary in which she expounded on “safety concerns and hidden agenda” in regard to HPV vaccination.
The abstract of her now-retracted paper is an eye-opener. I’m still trying to digest the part about mini-electric shocks and mitochondria.
*according to Khatami both cancer and Covid-19 are “induced” diseases, leading one to wonder who is the Great Inducer. She also accuses the government and Pharma of participating in a “Ponzi scheme” to keep people sick. Shades of Charles Ortleb accusing Anthony Fauci of involvement in a “Ponzi scheme” to conceal the true causes of AIDS and chronic fatigue syndrome.
If COVID is an induced disease, maybe the induction explains why the vaccines turn people into electro-magnets. ; – /
The wacky world of anti-science, anti-vaccine alt-med:
Kooks to the left of me!
Crackpots to the right!
Here I am…
(h/t – Stealers Wheels)
In other anti-vax news…
Orac’s ‘pal’. Dr Hooman Noorchashm, has a new article at Children’s Health Defense ( from Medium) concerning the plight of unvaccinated, immune workers who may now lose their jobs.
A doc whose claims about the pandemic Orac profiled in May is ramping up the crazy.
Peter McCullough, a cardiologist and a vice chair in medicine at Baylor-Dallas has appeared with Fox luminaries like Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson. He has now starred in an explosive webinar with numerous revelatory revelations, according to the authoritative website amgreatness.com.
Not only are Covid-19 vaccines responsible for a bunch of unpublicized deaths, they’re part of a bioterrorism plan.
“Dr. McCullough made the explosive comments during a webinar on June 11, with Dr. Reiner Fuellmich, a German trial lawyer, who believes the pandemic was planned, and is “a crime against humanity.”…
“What we have discovered is that the suppression of early treatment was tightly linked to the development of a vaccine, and the entire program—and in a sense, bioterrorism phase one— was rolled out, [and] was really about keeping the population in fear, and in isolation preparing them to accept the vaccine, which appears to be phase two of a bioterrorism operation.”
“McCullough explained that both the coronavirus and the vaccines deliver “to the human body, the spike protein, [which is] the gain of function target of this bioterrorism research.”…
“We know that this is phase two of bioterrorism, we don’t know who’s behind it, but we know that they want a needle in every arm to inject messenger RNA, or adenoviral DNA into every human being,” he said. “They want every human being.” The doctor later warned that the experimental vaccines could ultimately lead to cancers, and sterilize young women.”…
“We have now a whistleblower inside the CMS, and we have two whistleblowers in the CDC,” the doctor revealed. “We think we have 50,000 dead Americans. Fifty thousand deaths. So we actually have more deaths due to the vaccine per day than certainly the viral illness by far. It’s basically propagandized bioterrorism by injection.”…
“Dr. McCullough went on to express a chilling theory that the vaccines could have been designed to reduce the world’s population.”
“If you said this is all a Gates Foundation program to reduce the population, it’s fitting very well with that hypothesis, right? The first wave was to kill the old people by the respiratory infection, the second wave is to take the survivors and target the young people and sterilize them,” he said.”
“If you notice the messaging in the country, in the United States, they’re not even interested in old people now. They want the kids. They want the kids, kids, kids, kids kids!”
If you think all this sounds nuts, nuts, nuts, nuts nuts!, then you’ve been hypnotized and brainwashed by Mainstream Media.
*needless to say, the figure of 50,000 vaccine deaths which Dr. M. pulled from his posterior is being promoted by that objective, pro-vaccine rational scientist, James Lyons-Weiler.
It’s all true. There’s a conspiracy behind every corner and straight line. I heard a song about what they do to people or at least when I was younger, they did this!
Oh my God, that bowling ball, it’s my wife! And the lesson we learn from this story is, next time you place your order — Don’t forget to say, “No anchovies, please.”
However, this may no longer be true!
“Dalas nekcihc dna tihs nekcihc neewteb ecnereffid eht wonk ot suineg a Ekat t’nseod ti.”
And about that sewage thing, she isn’t implying she was drinking out of the toilet right? Sometimes I make incorrect inferences.
Well,well,well. Noami Wolf’s Juneteenth hijacking was cancelled. The excuse given was a “scheduling issue”.
I see that “Stand Up Massachusetts” has posted both event calendar and website disclaimers, the latter of which plows new (or at least deeper) ground in the realm of Crank Miranda Warnings. It says in part:
“Standupmassachusetts.org assumes no liability whatsoever for the illegal or criminal use of any data being distributed through the website”
Are they worried that their followers will go off the deep end on the basis of the garbage they promote?
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