Anti-vaccine sentiments hide anti-Semitism and racism behind them

By AMANDA GIAMPAGLIA
On November 15, 2021

Photo Courtesy of Josh Appel, Unsplash

Anti-vaxxers are comparing themselves to the victims of the Holocaust. This comparison has brought on justified condemnation, because these comments are heinous and unfounded.

Kansas lawmaker Rep. Brenda Landwehr of Wichita declared that biases against Kansans who are unvaccinated and the mandate that these individuals wear masks is equivalent to “modern day racism. This is racism against the modern day Jew. Which is anyone who disagrees.”

One may ask, how can this level of antisemitism and ignorance exist today? “Experts can identify no clear-cut reason. A polarized political environment, antisemitism and lack of education about the Holocaust are all cited,” said Daniel Desrochers, writer for The Kansas City Star.

Desrochers continues, “Landwehr, a Republican, returned to the point minutes later, noting that the use of the phrase ‘go down a path’ by a Democratic state senator evoked memories of a documentary about Nazi Germany she said she had watched. She didn’t identify the documentary.”

Jewish social media activist and influencer, Matt Bernstein (@mattxiv) posted about the issue to their 865,000 Instagram followers, sharing imagery of people at a public meeting wearing the Star of David on their shirts with the phrase “not vaccinated” on it. They include the succinct condemnation “you are not oppressed for choosing to remain unvaccinated” in the caption.

One image in the post shows a woman selling patches that mock the yellow badges worn by Holocaust victims. She is profiting from the ignorance and antisemitism of people who think that they are oppressed for their selfish choice of remaining unvaccinated. These people are so uneducated on what oppression is they believe that they are experiencing persecution equivalent to what Jewish people endured throughout World War II.    

This mocks the six million innocent Jewish people who were forced to wear this badge in order to be identified, persecuted and murdered by Nazis. These people did not choose to be Jewish. These people were forced to wear this badge as an identifier so Nazis could attack them simply for their religion, not because they did not want to receive a life-saving vaccine.

Bernstein goes on to say, “you are not being victimized. You are being criticized for choosing — CHOOSING — to put your neighbors, friends, loved ones, and community at risk. If that feels like oppression, you have no idea what oppression is.”

As a person of Jewish heritage with family members who have been affected by antisemitism, I find this ideology deplorable. The ignorance of comments like this hurts millions of people who were either survivors of the Holocaust themselves or are descents of victims who were cruelly exterminated by Nazis.

People need to become better educated about the world and the history of people who are different from them. To compare being told to wear a mask if you are not vaccinated to having to wear a bright yellow Star of David on your clothing to be identified as Jewish by Nazis is completely ignorant and unjustified.

Tonya Russell, culture and wellness writer for NBC News, put it perfectly, saying “It’s no coincidence that this hyperbolic outrage is coming from people who’ve always had rights and never known what true oppression is. They think their children are suffering and missing out on childhood because of mask mandates. That the government overstepped its boundaries in forcing people to wear them in Target. That being vaccinated is the equivalent of facing genocide.”

This exemplifies the ignorance of these people, to believe “that being vaccinated is the equivalent of facing genocide.”

agiampag@ramapo.edu

 

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