The Universal Notebook: Anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, anti-Americans

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The refusal of a certain segment of the U.S. population to be vaccinated against COVID-19 has resulted in a resurgence of a deadly virus that we almost had under control.

Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers are manifestations of the selfishness and self-righteousness that is destroying this country from within. 

Edgar Allen BeemThe worst offenders are the health care workers who should know better yet are resisting the mandate to get vaccinated, aided and abetted by Liberty Counsel, a right-wing Christian group with a political agenda. The vaccines work and the consequences of not getting vaccinated are far worse than any known side effects of the vaccine. Fear of the unknown is just plain ignorance.

Remember how nursing homes were among the first places to be hard hit by COVID-19 even though friends and family were not allowed to visit? Staff infections. The first wave of the virus decimated the old and the weak with underlying conditions. The Delta wave is decimating the foolish and the ignorant. Herd stupidity.

People trying to do the right thing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are now facing nasty backlashes from the benighted.

Maine State Music Theater, for instance, had to cancel most of its fall productions after it announced that audience members would have to show proof of vaccination and were met with cancellations, demands for refunds, and obscene emails. Shame on these un-American anti-vaxxers.

Is it un-American to refuse to be vaccinated? You bet it is. The fundamental principle underlying American values is the common good. The United States was founded in order to “form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” 

“Union,” “domestic,” “common,” “general,” “ourselves.” Collective values, not individual liberties, define America. 

But the Trump mob does not believe in the common good. Even the Trumpster himself was booed recently in Alabama when he urged his followers to get vaccinated. He won’t make that mistake again. 

As schools reopen we are seeing the predictable whining and fussing of obnoxious Know-Nothing parents protesting mask and vaccine requirements. They think it’s government overreach to protect public health. Well, if we had had more self-appointed guardians of “freedom” in the past, we’d still be fighting smallpox and polio. 

For decades now, students entering public schools have had to show proof of immunization against diphtheria, measlesmumps, whooping cough, poliorubellatetanus, and chickenpox. Only a selfish minority has resisted.

Now we have a Winslow parent suing his local school district because it imposed commonsense masking requirements. His argument that masking “distracts children from learning, increases levels of carbon dioxide in the blood, creates vectors for pathogens and virtually eliminates non-verbal communication, harming phonetic development and damaging human connection” comes right out of the alt-right playbook. Expect to see more of this ideological nonsense.

Most Mainers understand that getting vaccinated protects you, the ones you love, and the general public. Only 18 percent of Maine adults have not been vaccinated compared to backward states like West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, where more than 40% are unvaccinated and are likely to remain that way.

People who refuse to be vaccinated need to stay home and out of public places. Stay away from schools, stay away from churches, stay away from work. Don’t go to movie theaters, concerts, airports, sports events, anywhere that people gather.

You may have the right to remain unvaccinated, but you do not have the right to infect others.

Edgar Allen Beem has been writing The Universal Notebook weekly since 2003, first for The Forecaster and now for the Phoenix. He also writes the Art Seen feature.

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