If there are any words which Hillary Clinton could take back if she could live her life over again, it is this sentence from 2016: “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic.”
They energised the rank and file, to be sure, but the wrong candidate’s.
Six years on, a number of public figures, including bioethicists, have discovered a new sub-species of deplorables, the unvaxxed. It will be interesting to see how this new chapter in political polarisation works out for them.
“I worry the ethical approach we have to health care may never fully recover from this,” says Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist at the University of Toronto. “Turning against this cohort when we don’t know who they are or how they think, I think it’s awful.”
“You could practically propose going after the unvaccinated with pitchforks and torches and you’d get support for that,” Bowman told the Montreal Gazette.
Here are a few quotes.
French President Emmanuel Macron: “The unvaccinated, I really want to make life shit for them … to limit, as much as possible, access to social activity. I’m not going to put them in jail, I’m not going to forcibly vaccinate them. And so you have to tell them: from January 15, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant … you will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre, you will no longer be able to go to the cinema … When my freedom threatens that of others, I become irresponsible. An irresponsible person is no longer a citizen.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “They are extremists who don’t believe in science, they’re often misogynists, also often racists. It’s a small group that muscles in, and we have to make a choice in terms of leaders, in terms of the country. Do we tolerate these people?”
Quebec Premier François Legault: “The vast majority of Quebecers follow the instructions. But I feel some anger towards a minority that refuse to be vaccinated. Even though unvaccinated adults only make up 10% of the population, they make up half of the COVID hospitalizations in intensive care. This means that unvaccinated adults are 9 times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated adults. This is a huge burden on our health network.”
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair: “If you’re not vaccinated and you’re eligible… You’re not just irresponsible, you’re an idiot.”
Former Australian Premier of New South Wales Bob Carr: “We must follow Singapore and legislate no medical or hospital expenses to be reimbursed to people who are not vaccinated without medical justification and then contract COVID. You ignored warnings and got the disease. You pay for your wilful stupidity, not us.”
Pulitzer Prize winning LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik: “But mockery is not necessarily the wrong reaction to those who publicly mocked anti-COVID measures and encouraged others to follow suit, before they perished of the disease the dangers of which they belittled … There may be no other way to make sure that the lessons of these teachable moments are heard.”
New York Times columnist and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman: “A large part of the anti-vax, anti-mask mind set — not for everyone, but for many — involves refusal to accept personal inconvenience, real or perceived, for the sake of the public good. Naturally, such people won’t make personal sacrifices for their beliefs.”
New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow: “I am furious at the unvaccinated, and I am not ashamed of disclosing that. I am no longer trying to understand them or educate them. Barriers to access have fallen. The only reason for remaining unvaccinated that I now accept is from people who have medical conditions that prevent it. All others have a choice to either be part of the solution or part of the problem. The unvaccinated are choosing to be part of the problem.”
Bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel: “People who stay unvaccinated are impinging on other people. They are propagating the virus. They are going to hospitals that are overloaded if they happen to get very sick. This is hardly individual liberty that does not impact the wellbeing of other people.”
Bioethicist Arthur Caplan: “I’ll condemn them. I’ll shame them. I’m blame them … [But] We can’t write them off. We can penalize them more, we can say you got to pay more on your hospital bill if you weren’t vaccinated. You can’t get life insurance, disability insurance at affordable rates if you aren’t vaccinated.”
Washington Post columnist James McAuley: “Macron is right: It’s time to make life a living hell for anti-vaxxers.”
CNN’s Don Lemon: “The people who aided and abetted Trump are stupid because they believed his big lie. The people who are not getting vaccines, who are believing the lies on the internet instead of science, it’s time to start shaming them or leave them behind because they are keeping the majority of Americans behind.”