I knew when I published my last article, Mob Morality and the Unvaxxed, that I would be poking a hornets’ nest. The topic is so contentious and so laden with emotion that nuance can get lost. I would like therefore to correct some misunderstandings of the article that I’ve seen coming from both sides of the vaccine debate.
First, I did not say that vaccination campaigns are “just like the Holocaust.” Both sides have attributed that to me. It would indeed be indecent to claim that anything happening today is its equivalent. What I said, and said quite clearly, is that the vaccine issue mobilizes some of the same archaic social forces that humanity saw in their most extreme expression during the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, the witch hunts, and so forth. I clarified this point explicitly when I wrote, “Does that mean that the unvaccinated will be rounded up in concentration camps and their leaders ritually murdered? No.”
It does not “insult the memory of the victims of the Holocaust,” as some have opined, to apply lessons from this historical horror to our current situation. The lesson of the Holocaust is not just about antisemitism, but about the perennial pattern of displacing social tensions onto a dehumanized subclass. To construe the Holocaust as a singular event beyond all other horrors and to make it just about Jews and antisemitism actually neuters its instructive potency.