Yesterday I tweeted: “Grade inflation but for who gets to be called a hero.” You may have sorted out that this is a reference to the fun new game of calling selfish assholes who agree with your politics “heroes.” Like, say, pilots who refuse to fly, flight attendants who refuse to attend, nurses who refuse to nurse, etc.
You don’t need to look far to find a conservative calling these people heroes. You have to look a lot further to find an actual conservative justification for doing so.
So what exactly does makes these folks heroes in the eyes of the Right-wing grift-o-sphere? I see a few possibilities: Refusing the COVID vaccine is virtuous; refusing any vaccine is virtuous; not complying with a vaccine mandate is virtuous.
Is it virtuous to refuse the COVID vaccine? No. The COVID vaccine is one of the greatest triumphs of innovation we’ve seen in a generation. Within days of having the virus' genomic sequence, geniuses had developed a vaccine that worked and was safe. But some jackals would have us believe that refusing the vaccine is some kind of inherent virtue. Why exactly is it virtuous to refuse a potentially life-saving drug? Is it virtuous for the diabetic to refuse insulin? Or for the sufferer of hypertension to refuse Lipitor? Would these drug refusing Joans-of-Arc deny themselves Tylenol for a headache, antibiotics for an infection, or NyQuil for the flu? I doubt it.
What about refusing all vaccines? I was born in the 1990s and I have never heard about a child being crippled by Polio. But it wasn’t that long ago that every parent had to fear for their child. The current Senate Minority Leader suffered from Polio as a child. But thanks to the Polio vaccine, parents today don’t even think about the possibility of their child contracting Polio. The same is true (or was true for a couple of decades) of Small Pox, Whooping Cough, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and the list goes on. So unless you think it’s somehow a virtue for debilitation and deadly diseases to remain a threat to all of us, it’s not virtuous to refuse vaccines wholesale.
Which leaves only opposition to mandates. It’s becoming clear that anti-mandate is the last refuge of the anti-vax scoundrels. They rely, in large part, on semantic games and sophistry to hide the ball of their vacuous argument.
First, they conflate government mandates with those created by companies for their employees or customers. It is obvious that these cannot be treated the same. Your employer has the right to control your wardrobe by mandating a uniform. It would be ridiculous if the government tried to do the same thing. But even if you’re complaint is against government mandates, it’s illogical to protest government vaccine mandates by refusing to get the vaccine. That’s like protesting seatbelt mandates by refusing to wear a seatbelt. It’s dangerous and pointless.
But some of the more gonzo Tumpsters will insist that even non-governmental mandates are all-caps tyranny. Since these folks are against employers having any say in what is put in their employees' bodies, I assume they’re also against drug testing? And what about other “mandates” that employers saddle their employees with? Like the aforementioned uniforms? What about mandating citizenship documentation?
All of these pretensions to virtue are specious. The real “virtue” these “heroes” are displaying is simple: political conformity. They agree with the Right-leaning anti-vaxxers and so, in their eyes, they are brave truth-tellers, “heroes.”
In reality, they’re selfish. There’s nothing heroic about pilots who refuse to fly or flight attendants on the picket line. And there’s something broken in our culture when we valorize people for not doing their job in favor of a Quixotic political stunt.