Vaccine Polarization Is About More Than Just Vaccines — It’s Culture War

One Trump made a lot worse than you think he did.

Sikander Hayat Khan

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Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock

Barring the chaos in Kabul, Biden’s presidency has been relatively — what’s the word? — normal. But it’d be wrong to accept everything in America was normal. Strip away the layers of presidential conduct, seeming respect for democracy, words of unity rather than division, and you find brewing resentment, an authoritarian lust for power, and a sincere drive to spread misinformation. In other words, America was never “healed.”

Take vaccine polarisation as an example. At the same time doctors and the scientific community were pleading with Americans to get inoculated, people were taking ivermectin on TV. Famous, and not so famous, people were deliberately inciting vaccine hesitancy, spreading medical falsity, and conspiracy theories.

When it comes to the latter, the Tucker Carlsons of this world, his more extremist followers, and those spending their time and energy in making America sicker — it’s been enticing, at the very least, to label them as “the problem” — as those trying to ensure America never makes it out of this alive. But, as repulsive as they are, they’re a symptom of the real problem — not the problem itself.

You see, it’s not so much a question of whether “vaccines work” or whether being ordered to get vaccinated violates any rights or freedoms, but the simple fact that because one side is in favor of them, the Tucker Carlsons of this world must be against them. It sounds childish, but what’s driven that polarisation is anything but.

You could trace that driving force back to the current crop of the GOP. You could go further back to Trump himself. Or even down to wealth inequalities created by American capitalism. But even then, I’d argue, you’re not there yet. Because that game of “divide and conquer” can happen in a communist society too. What demagogues in both systems need is more than mere wealth inequality — they need wealth inequality that’s so severe the majority are left fighting for everyday necessities: healthcare, education, housing, food, and so on.

It’s something Trump, like famous dictators of the past and present, has capitalized on successfully. So successfully, in…

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Sikander Hayat Khan

Law and politics grad. Masters in Law. Nuance over ideology. Published in The Friday Times. Twitter @SikanderH8.