Many readers of this publication are sure to have read Fintan O’Toole’s latest piece in The Irish Times which attempted to neatly categorise disparate vaccine sceptic social groups “in order of purposeful malignity”.
According to O’Toole there are three distinct are vaccine sceptic social groups, namely egotists, paranoiacs, and fascists. O’Toole, whom I suspect did not interview a single vaccine sceptic person before producing his hypothesis, attempts to outline the alleged ironies, contradictions, and inherent dangers that exist within different strains of vaccine sceptic thought, with the smug air of one who simply knows better than you or I.
Throughout this article, I aim to dissect and highlight O’Toole’s own contradictions and to hopefully provide him with a better understanding of those with whom he so vociferously and condescendingly disagrees. Simultaneously I hope to solidify the ideological and scientific grounds on which we medical-outcasts build our argument, defence and position.
O’Toole states: “Vaccine sceptics form an objective threat to society”. Objective? To the contrary, hopes pinned on the effectiveness of the vaccine have been dashed recently with over 60% of Israeli citizens infected with the Omnicron strain having been double vaccinated and received their booster shots.
Moreover, watching Prof. Luke O’Neill catch a dose of Covid with more needles in his arm than a junkie on Henry Street, doesn’t exactly inspire confidence within vaccine sceptic groups.
O’Toole continues condescendingly, and suggests that the vast majority of vaccine sceptic people do not believe in the virus, but admits that we “anti-vaxxers” are “not all the same [and] treating them as if they were plays into the hands of the malign political actors who want to fuse them into a single cause; […] fascism”. Ironic, how those who oppose the idea of a corporatist-state relationship between large multinational pharmaceutical companies such as Moderna and Pfizer and our own respective government are, according to O’Toole, fascists.
Truly, the bar has become so low and fuzzy that the political F-word is considered applicable when discussing citizens who oppose the use of a product, produced by a private company, becoming a legal requirement to remain a part of civil society.
In ascending order of purposeful malignity, courtesy of O’Toole, come the egoists. Apparently, the egoists are the “oddest cultural conglomeration, a reactionary mentality rooted in what used to be a progressive nexus”. Their “self-regard” and obsession with “bodily purity” are what makes them such a threat to society.
Moreover, according to O’Toole, this mentality “has been fully monetised […] by the ‘wellness'” industry and lists “yoga instructors, gym fanatics and New Age gurus [as] important vectors of misinformation”.
He continues, saying that “people who take all sorts of poorly regulated supplements because they make them feel strong and protected might be persuaded that a vaccine can do the same thing”.
I cannot help but take that as a personal swipe from Fintan, but some of us, have both the capabilities to lift heavy and to think critically.
Second, come the paranoiacs. Undoubtedly this is the media’s favourite uppercut to throw at vaccine sceptic social groups as it is easy to ignore and dismiss those whom you disagree with if you can comfortably brand them as paranoiacs, quacks and tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists.
Albeit there are true quacks within certain vaccine sceptic social groups, some of whom are utterly convinced the lizard soldiers of the Illuminati are out to get them. However, suggesting that the vast majority of those who conscientiously object to a medical procedure are quacks is intellectually dishonest, and nothing but a straw-man argument.
Additionally, I think many readers would agree that had the mainstream media objectively reported on events of the past two years, there would be far fewer quacks on both sides of the political aisle. And yes, there are quacks on both sides. We’ve all seen those fear-ridden individuals who sport a blue surgical mask while out driving on their lonesome. As I said, quacks.
Thirdly and finally, we arrive at the crux of the matter; the alleged fascist objectors and O’Toole’s own glaring hypocrisy. O’Toole states that “they [fascists] do what fascists have always done: speak to genuine fears, give those anxieties a simplistic explanation that generates hatred of Them, and use this dread and distress to create the chaos and disorder”.
Pot calling kettle what? The ironies abound concerning this ridiculous interpretation, and becomes more apparent in light of O’Toole’s own blatant attempt at scaremongering, when he states, “vaccine sceptics form an objective threat to society”. It sounds very ‘us and them’ to me, at least.
Having perused O’Toole’s previous work, his hypocrisy becomes all the more blatant. In an article written in 2018, O’Toole stated: “fascism doesn’t arise suddenly in an existing democracy. It is not easy to get people to give up their ideas of freedom and civility. You have to do trial runs that, if they are done well, serve two purposes. They get people used to something they may initially recoil from, and they allow you to refine and calibrate.”
You are dead right O’Toole, “it is not easy to get people to give up their ideas of freedom and civility”, but a global pandemic will do just the trick, won’t it? In addition to this thorn in O’Toole’s latest hypothesis, is his interpretation that for fascism to be successful, “you have to undermine moral boundaries, inure people to the acceptance of acts of extreme cruelty. Like hounds, people have to be blooded […] Fascism does this by building up the sense of threat from a despised out-group”. After having been physically spat upon while on public transport for refusing to wear a mask, I can only too easily attest to the recalibrated standard of civility and lack of moral boundaries that have surfaced following the imposition of civil restrictions, lockdowns and a never-ending stream of Covid hysteria.
Unfortunately, articles such as O’Toole’s latest, signify the decline of critical journalism in Ireland and additionally highlight the divisive tactics utilised by too many within the mainstream media to spread fear, disunity and hatred. Tactics which O’Toole claims to abhor, yet utilises with such skill.
I will sign off and leave you with this; O’Toole states that when dealing with “both the virus and our state of knowledge about how to deal with it, […] there is no absolutely fixed ‘truth'”. Given that we are dealing with a biological virus, bound within the laws of science, I must utterly disagree with this statement. However, I will go so far as to suggest that The Irish Times adopt the phrase, “there is no absolutely fixed truth” as their new slogan? It has a shade of honesty that can only be admired.