Arsonists, anti-vaxxers, and COVID
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Arsonists, anti-vaxxers, and COVID

Marshall Ward
Marshall Ward

John E. Douglas, who coauthored the “Crime Classification Manual,” proposed that arsonists conveniently may be the ones who set the fire, discover the fire, and report the fire – and then are first to arrive on the scene for hero recognition.

Generally speaking, there are two broad categories of arsonists:

  • Revenge-seeking arsonists set fires in response to a perceived wrongdoing. It may have occurred months or even years before the arsonist initiates the fire-setting activity. One study shows this type of fire-setting more often targets institutions and society.
  • Extremist-motivated arsonists are moved by a cause — usually social, political, or religious — and want their group to be recognized as responsible. Targets reflect the focus of the extremists’ wrath. Examples include abortion clinics, animal laboratories, and fur farms.

Since the 1990s, many documented incidents of extremist arson have occurred in the U.S. South. Specifically, in Alabama, churches with predominantly African American congregations were burnt to the ground.

These extremist arsonists resemble the anti-vaxxers who are now setting communities on “fire.”

We are experiencing a COVID-19 and delta variant surge. One of the “arsonists” who set, discovered, and reported the fire, and wanted hero recognition for doing so, is finally voicing concerns.

“It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks,” said Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey. “Almost 100 percent of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths are certainly occurring with the unvaccinated folks.” About a year and a half late, Kay!

Is this reversal because COVID-19 is surging among the voters of Red States?

It’s not only Alabama. “Every one of Florida and Arkansas’ counties is now listed as having high levels of COVID-19 and delta variant transmission,” states the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC lists high transmission in nearly every county in several other states, including Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Alabama has seen a 300% jump in cases over the past two weeks, and a 92% increase in hospitalizations. Alabama is also tied for the lowest vaccination rate in the U.S.

There are haunting tales of dying coronavirus patients who begged for the vaccine that they had previously refused.

“I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late,” said one ER doctor.

In the face of this latest surge, there is now a revisionist attempt to honor Donald Trump and red state governors for finally recognizing the seriousness of this pandemic a year and a half after the fact. They set the fire, but now they are "reporting" it and want to be hailed as heroes.

Yet, even as some of the right-wing COVID arsonists are finally admitting that there really is a fire, right-wing talking heads, disinformation spreaders, and local anti-vaxxers continue to cast doubt on the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines.

Recently, Tennessee Pastor Greg Locke told his congregation that the COVID delta variant was a hoax. Worse, he told them he would kick them out of the church if they showed up wearing masks.

Many Republican governors have rejected a plan by President Joe Biden in which community-based volunteers would go door to door to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations.

Republican-led states are passing laws banning “vaccine passports,”  preventing businesses from requiring vaccination or even asking about vaccination status, and banning schools, including colleges, from requiring the vaccine and masking even though they, like most other states’ schools, require multiple other shots to enroll.

The leaders in Trump’s Republican states continue to double-talk, knowing that their base doesn’t get it or care.

For example, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has urged vaccinations one day, then the next has fundraised by attacking public-health officials such as Anthony Fauci.

More than one-fifth of ALL new COVID-19 cases are in the state of Florida – 24,000 recorded in one day. DeSantis has been promoted to “arsonist” No.1!

Can governments lawfully require more public-health cooperation from their populations?

Of course. For example, about a dozen red states have legislated drug testing for people who seek cash welfare.

As a practical matter, conservative pundit S.E. Cupp  called out the Republican party for an “insane response to the pandemic, from anti-maskers to anti-vaxxers.  The politicization of science and health safety has inarguably cost lives,” she said. “It’s also made us stupider and more susceptible to misinformation.”  

The Party that shouted from the rooftops that Democrats were “baby killers” is now putting all children under 12 who don’t have a vaccination yet at risk.

Will we continue to allow these anti-vaxxers to set COVID “fires” and taking precious lives in our vulnerable communities through their actions?

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Commentary

Marshall Ward

Marshall taught history and economics for twenty years in Charleston, SC, then moved to Murray, KY, where he taught AP history for seventeen years. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)


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