“I’m so glad I never got vaccinated” just replaced “I wish I’d spent more time at the office” as the least likely thing anyone will ever say on their deathbed. With so many anti-vaxxers dying and others getting deathly ill from Covid-19, you’d think more of them would start avoiding coronavirus like, well, the plague.
What’s going on here? Why are they failing to learn? What keeps the bozone (the substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating) in place? Why is dead the new stupid?
The reason is due to a set of afflictions of the vast majority of conservatives. Apart from the common obvious — anti-science bigotry, an easy willingness to believe any crackpot conspiracy theory and a lack of education — it’s a simple case of absence of empathy. Conservatives in general and Republicans in particular simply don’t care what occurs to other people. They are unmoved by social afflictions until those afflictions happen to them.
We see it all the time and it’s nothing new. Nancy Reagan, for example, practically became the poster girl for hypocritical Republican volte-face. She fought against the LGBTQ community until her daughter came out. She opposed stem cell research until Ronnie got Alzheimer’s Disease. Unless it affects them personally Republicans couldn’t care less about anyone else. And it shows.
This policy has returned with deadly consequences. Now not caring what happens to others could literally kill you. For a conservative to sit up and take notice, bad things must happen to them or their wives or husbands or friends or children. Only then do they get it and, with coronavirus, by then it’s too late.
The lack of empathy of Republican politicians is why America still has no universal health care coverage, why homelessness remains a major social evil and why their principal concern remains their personal “freedoms.” They’re victim blamers. If you’re poor or disadvantaged it’s your own damn fault. Many of them came by their money the hard way: they inherited it.
Contradicting medical doctors and scientists and insisting that masks and social distancing and vaccines are unnecessary is the act of the sociopath, particularly when the consequences for being wrong can be so devastating to others. Anti-vaxxer conservatives carry their lack of intellectual rigour on their sleeves. You don’t have to ask them very many questions about why they believe what they believe before they become angry. Being stupid is uncomfortable, particularly when the myths and lies that support their stupidity are so easily exploded.
But they don’t think about it very much because they are unmoved by the consequences. They don’t care if they’re wrong about the absurd conclusions they reached so cheaply because the lives of other people don’t matter to them. It doesn’t occur to them that it could happen to them because they’re privileged and stupid, and when they get sick and start to die, no one is more surprised than the anti-vaxxer, anti-masker fool.
It takes about ten minutes to save your own life and the lives of people you care about. If for some reason you still don’t understand what coronavirus is and why vaccines are so effective against it there are many books and websites and videos with lucid, easy to follow explanations.
But it’s not just a lack of education that stands in the way of the anti-vaxxer, anti-masker conservative idiot. Taking the time necessary for such easy-to-acquire wisdom is too much time for the person who doesn’t care if other people live or die. The shocking truth is that their own wilful ignorance and indolence can be and often is their very own death sentence.
After watching from afar so many hundreds of thousands of Americans die from coronavirus, I cannot help indulging in a bit of schadenfreude by imagining the look of horror on their stupid faces when anti-vaxxer, anti-masker conservatives themselves get sick and begin to die. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.