Let’s start with the bottom line: Getting vaccinated and wearing a mask is what you do in order to be a responsible adult. It’s not difficult, it’s not complicated, and it’s not about you. It’s about taking a couple of small, simple steps that will help those around you who may be more vulnerable than you are to a deadly disease.
This has become controversial not just because the fascists (another term for the Republican Party) have seized on a wedge issue that will energize the knuckle-draggers (another term for their voter base). The wedge issue is available for them to exploit because of the way the propaganda machinery in the United States has operated for many, many years.
The prevailing secular religion in the U.S. is the worship of freedom. I call it freedomolatry. Personal freedom is placed on a high pedestal. Social responsibility takes a distant second place, if it’s mentioned at all. And that’s the source of the problem. Some religious denominations, it’s true, do emphasize social responsibility — but it’s generally cast in terms of charitable giving. Charitable giving, however, is voluntary. At the end of the day, charitable giving is just another exercise of personal freedom. You can do it or not, whichever you prefer.
Explaining to the mouth-breathers and knuckle-draggers that they are required to act in a socially responsible manner is like speaking Latvian to them. They don’t understand it. Nothing in the cultural framework in which they live emphasizes social responsibility.
And then, because they already feel under siege living in a pluralistic, multi-racial, multi-gender society where wages have long since fallen far behind the cost of living, they get angry.
The Republican Party is all about mobilizing anger. A lot of grass-roots Democrats and progressives are angry too, but our anger arises because we see the glaring need for a whole lot more social responsibility. You will not hear any Republican orators calling on their followers to show a shred of compassion for their fellow humans. Compassion is not part of the Republican playbook.
Get vaccinated, schmuck. It’s not about you.