Why Comparing The Unvaxxed To The Persecuted Jews Is An Abomination & Why Healthy Boundaries Are Not The Same As Fascism

Why Comparing The Unvaxxed To The Persecuted  

Since 2014, when I met him at the Uplift Festival in Byron Bay, Australia, where we were both keynoters, I have been a supporter of the work of Charles Eisenstein’s, in addition to being his close friend. With great heaviness in my heart, I watched him start to go down the conspirituality-tinged, “red-pilled” rabbit hole at the beginning of the pandemic. I tried to call him in because I sincerely believe calling in is much kinder and more effective at creating social change than calling out, which can feel shaming and humiliating. Because I thought he was being unfairly called out by the guys at the Conspirituality podcast, I reached out to them in his defense and was responsible for getting Charles an invitation to appear on the podcast to defend himself.

I was grateful they were willing to give him a voice and considered it brave of him to appear with them. But I was also embarrassed for him when he humiliated himself by whining about how his kids didn’t get to go to summer camp when people were actively dying and getting long Covid. His stark lack of empathy on that podcast appearance was shocking and made me very concerned about his mental health. (Listen here and here.)

I’ve been dreading writing a critique of his latest essay The Mob & The Unvaxxed, something I warned Charles I would write so he didn’t feel blindsided. I don’t like conflict. I hate it, honestly, and I wish people would just behave better so I didn’t feel like I have to use my power, platform and privilege to counteract online misinformation as a kind of social responsibility. I’m fiercely loyal to my friends and part of me feels like I’m betraying my care for him by speaking out publicly about this. But since attempts to call him in privately have failed, I’m resorting to calling him out publicly. Why call him out publicly? Because I have participated in platforming Charles and amplifying and broadcasting his work, and now I regret doing so, even though I still stand by my support for his former work. Those of us who help platform people with power have a social responsibility to put checks and balances on that power (which is why I formerly took a stand calling out Hay House, because they have platformed some of the Disinformation Dozen and failed to call them out and put limits on their power and influence.)

Writing this essay is my attempt to withdraw my endorsement of Charles’s work, although I still stand by endorsing his former work, and hopefully participate in setting straight anyone who might be confused by his message. It’s also my intention to speak more generally to the many others who seem to be making false equivalencies between boundaries and fascism with regard to the “persecuted unvaccinated” and the persecuted Jews in Nazi Germany. This latest essay disturbed me so deeply that, after consultation with a therapist and several of our mutual colleagues who care for us both to ensure that I’m not writing from my own blind spots, I want to say a few things.

The Dangers of False Equivalencies

I will not unpack this essay line by line, because others are doing that (listen to the Conspirituality podcast review it, starting at minute 13 and I don’t want to get into the depth of how masterfully this piece of gaslighting primes the reader to slip into the main point of the essay. I also won’t bother to point out the valid points he makes- except to say that humans are indeed inclined to “other” people and find a scapegoat to hate. We DO do this, and it’s painful that so many marginalized and oppressed people have been scapegoated as pariahs and dehumanized in ways that make them vulnerable to all number of violent and abusive behaviors, including genocide. My peacemaking parts hate it when we “other” anyone and cast them as monsters not deserving of being part of the wholeness of humanity. I even wrote a blog post about how triggered I was when everyone was celebrating in the streets after Osama bin Laden was murdered. Yes, he was a murderer and people had a right to feel relieved that he had been stopped. But he was also a human being and father who died. I don’t believe any humans are monsters. I view people who behave badly through a trauma-informed lens, and all trauma deserves our compassion. That doesn’t mean we should not call out and enforce consequences upon people whose traumas cause them to do harmful things. But I don’t think dehumanizing anyone- ANYONE- ever helps. So let me be clear that we should not cast Charles as a monster or dehumanize him, even if we are calling him out on racist and harmful behavior that is not helping us get this pandemic under wraps. He is deserving of our love and care and we also need to set clear and healthy boundaries with people like him. Which is why we’re instituting vaccine mandates. But now I’m getting ahead of myself.

Back to the first big false equivalency: To compare the willfully unvaccinated (who are mostly privileged and white, or Black and understandably scared of another Tuskegee nightmare) to the persecuted Jews in Hitler’s Germany is a gobsmackingly shocking, insulting, disrespectful, anti-Semitic, and inaccurate false equivalency of the most extreme proportions (especially given that Charles is Jewish). Yes, humans have a tendency to scapegoat and “other” people and to then dehumanize them in ways that justify violence. AND…this is not the same thing. The unvaccinated are KILLING PEOPLE- not the other way around. So don’t gaslight us, Charles.

The vaccinated are not killing the unvaccinated or putting them in concentration camps. The willfully unvaccinated are, at least in part, responsible for the deaths of unmeasurable numbers of people who did not need to die this year. That’s what’s REALLY happening. My most trusted expert on the inside of public health and on the front lines of Covid- Rick Loftus, MD, recently told me that it is his opinion that just as we have passed the point of no return for reversing climate catastrophe because of lack of collective cooperation, we have now passed the point of no return for herd immunity for Covid. (Read Rick’s latest advice about the Delta variant here.)

According to Rick, it is likely we will all get Covid now at some point- with a huge epidemic of long Covid among survivors- because we missed the window for herd immunity and the Delta variant is breaking through the vaccine. And that’s because the unvaccinated refused to cooperate with achieving herd immunity before variants had a chance to mutate.

Fortunately, we live in a country where nobody will force you to get a medical intervention for the good of the whole, but the free will of a minority is going to cause great preventable suffering, just as the free will of a few powerful climate deniers is most likely going to lead to the extinction of our species. Their free will choices are hurting us all and causing my daughter’s generation to largely conclude that it would be immoral to bring their own children onto a planet in peril.

The Difference Between A Right & A Privilege (And Why Boundaries & Fascism Are Not The Same Thing)

So are we scapegoating and “othering” those people by being angry at them? No. We should not round them up in concentration camps and murder them, obviously. But do we have a right to enforce boundaries to limit the damage they’re causing and protect at least a few of the vulnerable, marginalized, and oppressed actual minorities who are dying unnecessarily from Covid? Yes. It is a moral imperative that we do so. This is the point of vaccine mandates- to set boundaries intended to protect the vulnerable from the uncooperative. The unvaccinated think it’s their free will to do what they want with their bodies- and they’re right! Nobody is going to hold a gun to their heads in the United States and enforce vaccination. Thank God! But public health officials have always encouraged compliance by taking away privileges if you don’t comply, just as good parents might do with unruly or boundary-testing children. That’s why your kids have to be vaccinated if you enjoy the privilege of having your kid educated for free in public school. You’re not compelled to have your kids educated for free. You could home school them or pay for private school. It’s also why immigrants are all required to be vaccinated before entering this country, because living here is a privilege that can be withheld if you don’t cooperate with public health measures. Nobody is entitled to harm someone else without risking losing privileges. It’s that simple. But extremists think they are entitled to freedoms they are not entitled to.

Let’s make a distinction here. Boundaries put in place to limit someone’s personal freedom or to protect public health are NOT the same thing as fascism, and clearly those who make this ridiculous false equivalency are boundary wounded and triggered by healthy boundaries. (Read more about this distinction on my public Facebook page article “Why Vaccines Are Like Condoms & Why Health-Inducing Boundaries Are Not The Same As Limiting Your Freedom.”)

Let’s make another distinction. There are rights, and there are privileges. For example, as I eluded to in the Facebook post, having sex with someone is a privilege, so in spite of what too many people might think, nobody is just entitled and free to have sex with another person. You have to be willing to respect their boundaries. Otherwise, it’s a boundary violation, and in many cases, a crime. Nobody has the freedom to interfere with someone else’s bodily safety, which is why nobody is forcing anyone to get any kind of medical intervention in the US at gunpoint- because we have laws protecting informed consent, so nobody can inject you with a vaccine without your consent. To do so would be a crime. You have to opt in for a vaccination. That’s your right. If you opt out, however, you might lose access to certain privileges other people who comply with public health guidelines get to enjoy.

Since having sex with another person is a privilege, not a right, if you want to have sex with someone who has asked you to use a condom (as a public health measure to prevent infectious disease from spreading), you now have a choice. You can either wear a condom and enjoy the privilege of being someone’s lover. Or you can choose not to wear a condom- and then you lose that privilege. The one choice you do not get is to be that person’s lover and refuse to wear a condom- because you think you’re free to do so. Does that keep men from bullying potential sexual partners into trying to have sex without a condom in the name of “You’re trying to control me or limit my freedom?” Sadly, no. Withholding privileges from the willfully unvaccinated is like that. You have the right to refuse the vaccine. And as long as you and your family members never leave your house, I have no problem with that. Refuse the vaccine- and stay at home, indefinitely sheltered. But if you don’t get vaccinated and you refuse to stay at home, a healthy society has every right to withhold certain privileges.

But I digress. The beginning of Charles’s essay makes the valid case that humans have a tendency to find a scapegoat when life gets chaotic and we need someone to blame. Totally valid point. He then says that since life got chaotic in 2020, the unvaccinated are being set up to be the next scapegoat, because “something must be done” and someone must get blamed when all hell breaks loose in human society like it did after 9/11. He explains that after 9/11:

“Nearly everyone instinctively took for granted the necessity of finding sacrificial victims… Not just any victim will do as an object of human sacrifice. Victims must be, as Harding puts it, “in, but not of, the society.” That is why, during the Black Death, mobs roamed about murdering Jews for “poisoning the wells.” The entire Jewish population of Basel was burned alive, a scene repeated throughout Western Europe. Yet this was not mainly the result of preexisting virulent hatred of Jews waiting for an excuse to erupt; it was that victims were needed to release social tension, and hatred, an instrument of that release, coalesced opportunistically on the Jews. They qualified as victims because of their in-but-not-of status. Scapegoats needn’t be guilty, but they must be marginal, outcasts, heretics, taboo-breakers, or infidels of one kind or another. If they are too alien, they will [be] unsuitable as transfer objects of in-group aggression. Neither can they be full members of society, lest cycles of vengeance ensue. If they are not already marginal, they must be made so. It was ritually important that Derrick Chauvin be cast as a racist and white supremacist; then his removal from society could serve symbolically as the removal of racism itself.”

Um…Derrick Chauvin WAS a racist and a murderer. Does this mean we should dehumanize him and cast him as a monster. No. He’s a traumatized person who deserves our compassion. But he also earned 22.5 years in prison. That’s the consequence of his free will choice to murder someone, just as there should be consequences for anyone who causes harm to someone else by their free will choice. The choice to stay unvaccinated (without a medical exemption, of course) could arguably be called criminal, since this choice harms other people who can’t protect themselves from the consequences of someone else’s choice- though we’re not enforcing criminal sentences on the willfully unvaccinated (yet). As a society, we have litigated many behaviors that cause harm to others as unlawful, such as driving too fast or driving under the influence or driving while holding your phone. Legally, you are not free to make choices that harm other people. Yet some people seem to think they are.

Are The Willfully Unvaccinated Entitled To Hospital Care & Insurance Coverage Of That Care? Is It A Right Or A Privilege?

Since we’re talking about the difference between a right and a privilege, I should mention that there is talk amongst the burned out, compassion-fatigued doctors I know (privately, in secret) about requiring proof of vaccination before anyone can enter a hospital. Because why should a front line Covid doctor or nurse martyr themselves or put their own life at risk to treat a willfully unvaccinated person who gets Covid? I understand why they feel this way. It would also be very problematic if that were enforced, so I’m not advocating we should do such a thing. But not getting medical treatment when you get Covid (or any other disease, for that matter) if you’re willfully unvaccinated would be one way to take away a privilege as a consequence of lack of cooperation with a public health campaign to protect the collective! I won’t argue whether health care access should be a right or a privilege, but there is also talk that insurance companies are considering withholding coverage for the unvaccinated if they get Covid and need medical care. Personally, I think medical care should be a human right, but in my country, where health care is mostly privatized, it is considered a privilege that many people do not have. So that means it can be taken away- and might be. Don’t get me started down that rabbit hole though.

Back to Charles. Very soon after saying we should not cast George Floyd’s murderer as a racist or white supremacist because we’d be guilty of scapegoating him, he makes another false equivalency. Similar to how he compared the “cult of the New York Times and CNN” to the “cult of Trump and Fox News” in his appearance on the Conspirituality podcast, acting as if the two were equally right and equally wrong, he goes on to compare one kind of scapegoating on the right to another kind of scapegoating on the left, as if they also are equally right and equally wrong from a perspective of morality.

“For the right, it is Antifa, Black Lives Matter protesters, critical race theory academics, and undocumented immigrants that represent social chaos and the breakdown of values. For the left it is the Proud Boys, right wing militias, white supremacists, QAnon, the Capitol rioters, and the burgeoning new category of “domestic extremists.” And finally, defying left-right categorization is a promising new scapegoat class, the heretics of our time: the anti-vaxxers. As a readily identifiable subpopulation, they are ideal candidates for scapegoating.”

Because he seems to think he’s being fair and just in making these kinds of false equivalencies (and I’ve heard him do this in our personal conversations countless times), he then takes the next, most outlandish leap- to claim that the vaccinated “Sanctified Brethren” (the contempt is just dripping here) are portraying the persecuted anti-vaxxers as polluting us with their filth (when what they’re really polluting us with is their illness and potential disability-inducing Covid exposures, given that the Delta variant seems to be breaking through the vaccine- because of the unvaccinated.)

“Unconsciously, the public recognizes and conforms to the age-old program of investing a pariah subclass with the symbology of pollution. This program is well underway toward the Covid-unvaxxed, who are being portrayed as walking cesspools of germs who might contaminate the Sanctified Brethren (the vaccinated).”

Then, without coming right out and making a clear and courageous stand to say that he was anti-vax himself, he links to and promotes anti-vax activists Sayer Ji, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr and Joseph Mercola from the Disinformation Dozen, so-called by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, whom Biden and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy are fighting vigilantly to call out for being responsible for 65% of the vaccine misinformation on the internet.

“The pro-vaccine camp has a powerful nonscientific ally in the collective id, expressed through various mechanisms of ostracism, shaming, and other social and economic pressure. It takes courage to defy a mob. Doctors and scientists who express anti-vaccine views risk losing funding, jobs, and licenses, just as ordinary citizens face censorship on social media. Even a non-polemic essay like this one will likely be censored, especially if I stain it with the pollution of the heretics by linking blacklisted websites or articles by the disinformation dozen anti-vaxxers. Here, let’s try it for fun. Greenmedinfo! Children’s Health Defense! Mercola! [Links intentionally removed.] Ah. That felt a little like shouting swear words in public. You’d better not follow these links, lest you be tainted by their pollution (and your browsing history mark you as an infidel).”

The Math Of The Unvaccinated In Times of Delta

He then makes a very slippery, paranoid, and in my opinion, scientifically inaccurate case for why vaccine science can’t be trusted and we’re all getting hoodwinked while real scientists who know how dangerous they really are get canceled, censored, and silenced. He fails to, however, include the real science and math, which I’ll summarize here, of how the Delta variant travels and how it impacts those you might expose with your unvaccinated self. Because Delta appears to have an R0 of around 8 now (equivalent to chicken pox according to the latest from the CDC), this means that if one unvaxxed and unmasked person gets the Delta variant, they will, on average, transmit it to roughly 8 people. If those were unmasked and unvaxxed folks and that same pattern continues, it means infecting around 512 people in three generations of transmission. The vaccinated, while they can still get breakthrough infections and can still transmit it when they do, are at least 50%+ less likely to develop symptoms and are significantly less likely to transmit the infection if they do become symptomatic. If they take good precautions, while they may infect 50% of their “bubble,” they’re most likely to transmit it to 1 or 2 others before the transmission chain ends. So one unmasked and unvaccinated person doing as Charles advocates could lead to 512 infections, which means 50-100 long Covid patients, and probably, 3 or 4 deaths. That’s a huge multiple in the amount of suffering resulting from one’s personal choices.

Charles then goes on to compare the disgust many of us feel towards the Disinformation Dozen (because they’re HARMING countless vulnerable people with their misinformation!) to the way kids bully the weird kid on the schoolyard, treating them as if they have cooties and their weirdness might be contagious. (A curious analogy, since Covid is ACTUALLY contagious, while fraternizing with anti-vaxxers does NOT make you actually get sick.)

A Note Of Empathy For Charles

He discloses at this point in the essay that he was himself the weird kid in school who got bullied. That’s a terrible trauma and deserves our compassion- and a trauma-informed note about why it might make (irrational but emotional) sense to someone like Charles to make that false equivalency. If you’ve been bullied for being different, you might mistakenly interpret ANY boundary as a way to exclude you and any (even appropriate) anger as bullying. That might distort your perception such that you interpret anyone censuring those who are killing people with misinformation as being bullied. Therefore, it would make sense that someone traumatized in this way might be inclined to stand up for those he perceives as persecuted, including the Disinformation Dozen, the way he might have wished someone else stood up for him on the schoolyard. It’s another false equivalency, but it does open my heart (and hopefully yours) and makes me want to give that little boy a hug and set boundaries with those mean kids who hurt him. It also makes me want to get this grown man doing a lot of damage with this essay in therapy.

It’s important to point out that even if I’m standing up to speak out against a dangerous article like this as a way to hold Charles accountable, Charles still deserves to be humanized and included in the wholeness of humanity. He is not a monster or an awful human being. I know him to be a mostly good and caring human being, a kind father to four boys, and a social justice activist until recently. He’s still making what I consider a grave and damaging mistake. Lest you think I consider myself superior to Charles, I am certainly not beyond making mistakes as the result of my own trauma. That’s why I’m in therapy. Because people in positions of power need to be careful with how we wield our power- and that usually means we need expert therapists to hold us in check and make sure we don’t abuse our power, as Charles is doing, IMHO, in this essay.

Another Sign Of Confusion About Healthy Boundaries

Later in the article, Charles tells the story of a child who had been invited over for a playdate. Upon learning that the child’s family was unvaccinated, the child was uninvited. Personally, as a parent and a doctor in the midst of a pandemic, I think this is a sensible boundary, one we have definitely put in place in our own home to protect my housemate, who would be very vulnerable if she were to get Covid. Charles apparently doesn’t think this is a sensible boundary. He writes (with many provable errors in his logic):

“While this parent doubtless believed he was being scientific in canceling the invitation, I doubt science was really the reason. Even the most Covid-orthodox person understands that the non-symptomatic children of non-symptomatic parents pose negligible risk of infection; furthermore, since vaccine believers presumably trust that the vaccine provides protection, rationally speaking they have little to fear from the unvaccinated. The risk is vanishingly small, but the moral indignation is huge. Many if not most people get the vaccine in an altruistic civic spirit, not because they personally fear getting Covid, but because they believe they are contributing to herd immunity and protecting others. By extension, those who refuse the vaccine are shirking their civic duty; hence the epithets “filth” and “assholes.” They become the identifiable representatives of social decay, ready for surgical removal from the body politic like cancer cells all conveniently located in the same tumor.”

Why Public Health Guidelines & Other Attempts To Set Limits Are Not Fascism Or Authoritarianism

A lot of justification of conspiratorial (false) beliefs ensues, which doesn’t deserve repeating, so I’ll skip ahead to the part about the next false equivalency, when he compares authoritarian institutions (like those tasked with the very difficult and unenviable job of determining public health policy) to fascism, culminating in the pièce de résistance of the argument he makes:

“Why is fascism so commonly associated with genocide, when as a political philosophy it is about unity, nationalism, and the merger of corporate and state power? It is because it needs a unifying force powerful enough to sweep aside all resistance. The us of fascism requires a them. The civic-minded moral majority participates willingly, assured that it is for the greater good. Something must be done. The doubters go along too, for their own safety. No wonder today’s authoritarian institutions know, as if instinctively, to whip up hysteria toward the newly minted class of deplorables, the anti-vaxxers and unvaccinated. Fascism taps into, exploits, and institutionalizes a deeper instinct. The practice of creating dehumanized classes of people and then murdering them is older than history. It emerges again and again under all political systems. Our own is not exempt. The campaign against the unvaccinated, garbed in the white lab coat of Science, munitioned with biased data, and waving the pennant of altruism, channels a brutal, ancient impulse.

Lest you mistakenly think he means we’re going to round up the unvaccinated and exterminate them in concentration camps (isn’t that what it sounds like here?) he makes it clear that this is not what he means so he can make a case for why any boundary put in place to save lives, incentivize vaccination, or withhold privileges from the unvaccinated so they don’t infect others is akin to fascism (say what?)

“Does that mean that the unvaccinated will be rounded up in concentration camps and their leaders ritually murdered? No. they will be segregated from society in other ways. More importantly, the energies invoked by the scapegoating, dehumanizing, pollution-associating campaign can be applied to gain public acceptance of coercive policies, particularly policies that fit the narrative of removing pollution. Currently, a vaccine passport is required to visit certain countries. Imagine needing one to go shopping, drive a car, or exit your home. It would be easily enforceable anywhere that has implemented the “internet of things,” in which everything from automobiles to door locks is under central control. The flimsiest pretext will suffice once the ancient template of sacrificial victim, the repository of pollution, has been established.”

The Spiritual Bypass & Why Premature Forgiveness Of The Disinformation Dozen Is Not Appropriate

He closes with a prime example of the very seductive and flowery spiritual bypassing very commonly threaded into his work.

“There is another way and a better future…This future reaches into the present and the past to show itself any time that vengeance gives way to forgiveness, enmity to reconciliation, blame to compassion, judgment to understanding, punishment to justice, rivalry to synergy, and suspicion to laughter. Transcendence is in the human being.”

Of course, who doesn’t want a transcendent future, full of forgiveness, reconciliation, compassion, understanding, justice, synergy, and laughter? But it is premature for such things right now, when we cannot seem to cooperate and respect boundaries put in place to help protect the vulnerable. Right now, I am not ready to forgive the unapologetic, unremorseful anti-vaxxers (like the Disinformation Dozen, including my former colleagues and fellow physicians Kelly Brogan and Christiane Northrup, who wrote the foreword to my first book, and like Dr. Joseph Mercola, who the New York Times just called “The Most Influential Spreader of Coronavirus Misinformation Online”).

These willful promoters of medical misinformation, none of whom are public health experts or front line Covid doctors putting their own lives at risk, are profiting from their delusions and lies, and they are responsible for participating in causing distress, physical illness, death, and mental illness in many of my colleagues on the front lines who are martyring themselves every day to try to save lives from Covid. To think that doctors could do that to their own is unconscionable.

Why not just forgive Charles and other spreaders of dangerous misinformation? Isn’t that what he seems to be asking us to do, to just forgive each other? I, for one, am not inclined to forgive someone who is not even asking for my forgiveness. If they do ask for forgiveness, I think we first need to talk about how to hold these people accountable for the damage they’ve done and how they might make apologies, make amends, and accept the consequences of their harm. After they have paid their debt to society for the damage they’ve done (which can never be repaid, given that an unmeasurable number of vulnerable people have died because of their misinformation), maybe then we can talk about forgiveness. Anything sooner smacks of the “premature forgiveness” flavor of spiritual bypassing so often spouted in some institutionalized religions and common in New Age spiritual circles in a way that grooms people to tolerate abuse. But that’s the subject of another Facebook post.

To Feel Healthy Anger At Conspiracy Theorists & Anti-Vaxxers Is Not The Same As Scapegoating or “Othering”

The other thing his essay reveals to me is how many boundary-wounded people mistake healthy boundaries (like not letting a child from an unvaccinated family into your home) as authoritarianism or they mistake healthy anger in the face of non-compliance with public health measures as dehumanization or scapegoating. I can be very angry at a conspiracy theorist or an anti-vaxxer without dehumanizing them. I can set boundaries to protect myself and others from them (as I did when I hosted my only live workshop this year) by requiring proof of vaccination as a prerequisite for participation. Clearly, a lot of traumatized, boundary-wounded people can’t tell the difference between healthy boundaries and fascism.

With all due respect, vaccine mandates are a way to protect the vulnerable from the willfully unvaccinated who choose not to stay inside their homes and risk exposing everyone else. Nobody is forcing anyone to get a vaccine. The medical ethic of informed consent ensures that this is not legal in the USA, which is very important. Nobody can hold a gun to your head and force you to inject a vaccine into your body, and this is a blessing, because some countries do not have this medical freedom. We are lucky here. These companies and government agencies employing vaccine mandates are simply saying that if you want to work in this workplace or drink at this bar or benefit from the privileges these private companies and government organizations offer, you’re going to have to cooperate with a mass humanitarian effort to save vulnerable human lives. Because if you don’t cooperate, everyone who comes in that bar or restaurant or workplace could get sick- because of those who don’t want to get vaccinated- and that is NOT OKAY. If the willfully unvaccinated do not like that, that’s fine. Just quit your job or don’t frequent those places of business or stay at home, sheltered in place indefinitely. Your choice. But it’s not a right to get to spread Covid. It’s a privilege to get to visit those businesses or use their services.

I won’t close with anything flowery, because I’m too upset that I’ve lost yet another good friend to conspiracy theories, right-wing extremism, and anti-vax misinformation. I am crushed by the loss of my friend and former ally, and I’m grieving the loss very painfully. It hurts. So I will close with a boundary. Please, if you need to rant about Charles, it’s okay to be angry. I am. I did a whole therapy session around my need to rant and vent my anger before writing this essay. But please don’t let your anger whip you into such a frenzy that you dehumanize or abuse Charles. He was my friend, and I’ve loved him, and I can’t bear to read hate speech or dehumanizing epithets about him. He does not deserve that. Nobody does.

I will close by sharing with you the email I sent to Charles to alert him that I was going to write this article:

Dear Charles,

We do not need to debate the pluses and minuses of vaccination. It would be pointless. But I just wanted to alert you that I’m going to write a public critique of your latest essay, which shocked and horrified me. I will not dehumanize you or cast aspersions on your character, but I will express my outrage, shock and horror that you’re standing in your white male (Jewish!) privilege and comparing the emotional and physical boundaries being very appropriately set against the “filthy” unvaccinated to the persecuted Jews. I do feel it’s important that people with power, privilege and platforms speak up to counteract shocking false equivalencies between the ethnic cleansing of the Holocaust and the valid anger towards and appropriate vaccine mandates being leveraged upon the willfully unvaccinated. If you’re curious about the latest from Rick Loftus, I just posted it to my public Facebook page. I do care for you and will always care for you, but I’m done standing up for you or protecting your reputation. I wish you and your family all the best in trying times. I am very sad that our paths have diverged to this extreme. It is not for lack of love here that I feel it important to counteract your strong message with my own strong critique of it.



*Hat tip to Gaia Orion for the beautiful art.

Lissa Rankin



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