The narcissism of anti-vaxxers

by Brian on August 29, 2021

in Covid-19,Health,In the News,Science

Tim Wise wrote a provocative column for the website Medium earlier this month. Entitled “Covid anti-vaxxers aren’t a MAGA death cult – it’s worse than that,” the piece argues that followers of Donald Trump with his “Make America Great Again” slogan are not inherently suicidal despite their anti-masking, anti-social distancing, vaccines-are-evil stance. 

Tim Wise

“Stories are spilling out every day — outpourings of regret from persons who steadfastly refused to get the vaccine, now awaiting intubation – coming to realize they were wrong,” Wise writes. “That they are bellowing contrition and asking for prayers in the hopes they won’t die proves this is no suicide cult.”

Rather, what we’re seeing now amongst outspoken anti-vaxxers is “something more dangerous, sociopathic and sadistic,” he continues. “Not suicidal but homicidal… these are people who didn’t and don’t want to die. They simply thought there was no way they would.”

Covid is “only killing the weak,” Wise explains their thinking: “the less good people, the ones who don’t do CrossFit or go to a megachurch or who place their faith in science rather than a Bible study group.” For these types of anti-vaxxers, Wise notes, “those people don’t count.”

Wise quotes conservative conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman, who was surreptitiously recorded revealing what he really thinks Covid-19 is all about.

“Mother Nature has to clean the barn every so often,” he was overheard saying. “So what if 1% of the population goes? So what if you lose 400,000 people? Two hundred thousand were elderly; the other 200,000 are the bottom of society. You got to clean out the barn.”

That’s not just a call for homicide – it’s a prelude to eugenics. 

Such people “aren’t concerned about getting Covid themselves,” Wise explains. “They [simply] don’t care if you do.”

That’s pretty extreme but how else can we explain the 23 people who were pulled off a New York bound plane at Ben-Gurion Airport after it was discovered they had forged their PCR test results

If one of them had been positive for Covid, they could have gotten tens if not hundreds of their fellow passengers sick. 

Australia has been roiled over the past week by an indoor, maskless engagement party held in defiance of the country’s super-strict lockdown regulations. It would have flown under the radar if someone hadn’t videotaped the groom joking, “Clearly this is legal because this is a group therapy session.” At least one person in the crowd of 68 attendees turned out to be Covid-positive. The Victoria state government has now tightened lockdown restrictions including a nightly curfew. 

The homicidal moniker is clearly over the top, meant to provoke outrage. Most anti-vaxxers do not have murder on their minds. I would use a different epithet: A strident subset of anti-vaxxers is suffering from a form of extreme narcissism, one that frames everything through the lens of “What’s in it for me?” rather than “How can I help my fellow human being?”

I was privy to some of that sentiment after I questioned in my last column how the vaccinated should relate to anti-vaxxers who catch Covid. Is it acceptable to feel schadenfreude, I wondered?

“’Anti-vaxxer’ is a derogatory name being given to people [who simply want to] exercise their right to free will,” wrote one person in response.

Free will to do what? Kill others? 

“The people who are dying from Covid have had their immune systems damaged or destroyed through medication and adulterated foodstuffs. A properly maintained immune system is a killing machine that can even beat Ebola and rabies.”

Way to go, blame the victim.

“It’s their choice not to be vaccinated. Plain and simple. The problem is that the governments of the world are controlled by global elites and big pharma. The pandemic is a tool for political power gain.”

Hard to argue with paranoia.

Wise calls for treating anti-vaxxers like pariahs, “cutting them out of our lives entirely: non-invitations to the cocktail party or backyard barbecue, no seat for them at the holiday table, no invitation to the grandkid’s graduation.”

Israel is doing this to a certain degree on the national level. You want to go to a restaurant, sports or culture event, conference, hotel, gym, pool, event hall, museum or university? You’ll need a “Green Pass” showing you’ve been vaccinated, have antibodies indicating you’ve recovered from the virus, or received a negative PCR test in the previous 72 hours.

The Canadian government has announced that it will soon require all air travelers and passengers on interprovincial trains to be vaccinated.

These are good initiatives that, hopefully, will serve to incentivize vaccination holdouts to get their jab.

That said, the vaccines aren’t perfect, as we’re discovering to our chagrin: Immunity wanes over time and boosters will be necessary – sooner than many hoped. 

Then there are the rare side effects, some of which can be quite scary. Israeli researchers have, for example, found a connection between the heart condition myocarditis and the Pfizer mRNA vaccines. It’s not a big number – 148 mostly mild cases reported within 30 days of vaccination out of the over five million people who were inoculated – which gives it a rate of 0.003%. 

Compare that with Covid-19 which has a case fatality rate of close to 1% in Israel. (It’s 1.6% in the U.S. and as high as 9.2% in Peru.)

Whether you call them narcissists or homicidal, this is a cultural and psychological divide that is becoming nearly impossible to bridge. When we can’t agree on basic scientific facts – whether that’s about Covid or climate change or, to delve into the truly bizarre, whether the earth is round or in fact flat – I find myself in existential fear for our future. 

Paranoid? I think not.

Narcissism photo from Marija Zaric via Unsplash.

I first wrote that anti-vaxxers are narcissists for The Jerusalem Post.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: