Speak to our moment of demonization, Church

(Audio reading of this piece. Don’t tell Rebecca I made it at 1:00 AM this morning.)

I hesitate to allude again to a problem of human sin that has made at least two recent posts already… but we are living, right now, through the repetition of an historical cliché for how malevolence gets justified. And, although I would like to believe the situation will clear itself up, there is at least a good case to be made that:

(That is good advice by the way and you could even take it as an encouragement. This is a time when the courageous and virtuous will shine especially brightly.) You don’t want to play the “woe, woe, things used to be so much better” game, but there are certain, pretty objective markers we can point to to say, “yes, things really are especially bad right now”. For me the “abortion until birth, let’s override all the state laws!” bill passed by the US House was one such marker. And we do it so quickly and so casually too, another mark of the darkness of the present moment.

I caught Matt Shapiro sharing this yesterday:

You are welcome to read the full piece from the Seattle Times if you’d like, which is titled “Goodbye, and good riddance”. And what you’ll find, all you’ll find, is a man who acknowledges that yeah, all these people quitting because they won’t get vaccinated is causing some problems, but you suck, we are right about everything, you are wrong about everything, I’m glad bad things are happening to you.

But on the plus side, your quitting goes a long way toward purging us of the gullible, the conspiracy-addled, the logic-impaired and the stubbornly ignorant. And that’s not nothing.

Inasmuch there is any attempt at a reasoned case at all, it is bad analogies like the idea that a newly-developed compelled injection for a virtually always survived virus as a condition for employment is just like an ordinance to mow your law. (There was a nice post by Mike Solana recently addressing some of these analogies.) Or the claim that COVID would be over by now except for you people who won’t get your vaccines. There are places in the US and around the world right now that actually have vaccination rates of 95%-100%, and you know what? COVID ain’t over there. And inasmuch as those places tend to be either college campuses or hyper-liberal counties, they aren’t even no-restriction locations, they tend to be actually very-high-restriction locations even with all the vaccination. But people who are enjoying raging over the other aren’t going to care about details like that. That author can locate a “stubbornly ignorant” person by looking in a mirror. And besides, as our fair Lutheran Satire pastor has said:

"How could that historical society have been so approvingly cruel to that group of people?" You're seeing it right now. People enjoy it. "But they think it's reasonable this time" - they always do. "But this time it actually is" - no, it isn't. We're watching the repetition of an historical cliché for how evil gets justified and, as I've said, I think at the periphery of their conscience the people who speak so are even aware of that fact. But it just feels so good right now. Their hatred is righteous.

The state wants more power but I care more personally about how it has manipulated a large fraction of the populace to secure that power… and it’s not like we’ve never seen the script before. “All of your problems are because of this outgroup. Everything would be great except for their irrational misbehavior. But don’t worry, we’re going to protect you from them.” People fall for it, but many of them want to fall for it because it feels great. (On that note, new study out yesterday that vaccinated people with “breakthrough infections”, including those with no symptoms, which aren’t that uncommon, can transmit COVID just as well as unvaccinated people. So much for “we’re going to protect the vaccinated from the unvaccinated”.)

Vinay Prasad, a professor in the UCSF Epidemiology & Biostatistics Department, produced a video also yesterday, “Progressivism is dead, COVID19 killed it”. I do highly recommend your watching it, it’s only five minutes.

Aaron Kheriaty and many others have said recently that the real divide in America is no longer left/right, but between those who will accept a technocratic biosecurity surveillance regime and those who will resist it. For his part, Vinay Prasad there says, I am a progressive, I’ve always been proud to be a progressive. I don’t recognize what progressivism has become. He has never seen, he says, compassion and tolerance disappear the way he has now seen them disappear. He talks about the Twittersphere celebrating the firing of nurses and police officers who won’t get vaccinated. These people were the heroes on the front lines for 1.5 years. The mob will turn on you in an instant. (Prasad has also been very good, and alludes to this in his video, at calling out school boards for their irrational vaccine mandates of children.) We’ve even seen calls (apparently acted upon in some cases) that people fired for refusing vaccination not be allowed to collect unemployment or be cut off from Social Security - imagine progressives demanding people be cut off from their much vaunted social safety net. (I could just about vote for a “universal basic income” system in America today to protect people who are fired for their beliefs. But precisely for that reason, it would never be permitted to be truly “universal”.) No wonder Prasad doesn’t recognize his team anymore.

I haven’t done much to diagnose the problem in detail here. Although it’s easy to say “sin”, there are of course plenty of secondary causal factors we could point at to explain how we reached this point. But we are watching what man, with the restraints of religion and culture removed, can very easily become, and we’re watching a well-worn historical script play out all over again. Speak to the moment, Church. I know you don’t like being down there in the thick of the discourse, that’s an uncomfortable place for you… you are needed in the thick of discourse.