A Critique of Leftist Rhetoric: Part 2
There is a certain moral weight to COVID-19. As was seen most clearly in the presidential election of 2020, COVID, and specifically its vaccine, was completely politicized. I do not mean this in an abstract, personal anecdote-based sense, but as a distinct party line drawn around the choice to vaccinate. It has become such a deciding factor that even the messiah of the party has been ousted for his choice to support the common good. More and more recently ideology has turned moral. No longer do we look for the best way to approach a situation, but the most morally upright way. This change is fundamentally integral to how we see each other, but I am not necessarily passing judgment upon it. With the preceding factors in mind, it is not difficult to see how Americans got to a point where the left sees the unvaccinated as bigots, and the right sees the vaccinated as idiots and sheep. The step that is most troubling to me is the growing trend of seeing bigotry in the infected.
It’s not particularly confusing to see how people can pass this type of judgment upon those infected with COVID. At the start of the pandemic many denied its legitimacy and severity, so there was a sort of catharsis to see these individuals get infected themselves. As the vaccines were rolled out, there was just uncertainty surrounding them that quickly evolved into irrational conspiracies entangled with the 2020 election and the evils of leftist ideology. As a leftist, watching this was both amusing and frustrating. As more and more refused to vaccinate, the pandemic kept coming back. Frustration boils.
Finally, we arrive at the present. All the “right thinking” of the left and much of the moderate right have received the vaccine. In the mind, the only unvaccinated left is the idiot, bigoted, racist, sexist, homophobic et cetera, et cetera, evil people and as such, the only part of the population who can get infected is the idiot, bigoted, racist, sexist, homophobic you-get-the-gist. Of course, this is not necessarily evidenced in reality but it does draw from very real and frustrating truths. Likely, America would not still be in the throes of a pandemic if it were not for lying pundits and a close-minded faction of the public. What is not evidenced in reality is one’s being infected with COVID-19 is a result of bigotry, stupidity, and close-minded-evil-thinkings.
I am not a frequenter of Twitter, but I like how it was put by @magdalena_sage:
“This gas station has a sign that says ‘get a vaccine or a GED.’ … To call people who didn’t graduate high school uneducated is extremely ignorant… The lack of empathy is huge. We need to get rid of this stigma.”
Association of the disliked with the uneducated is not a great thing to do. For one, it implies that the uneducated and disadvantaged deserve their station. Education, like much else, is not available to all. Also, especially in the case of COVID, this thinking says that the uneducated are comparable to bigots. Considering the lowest educated groups in America are persons of color, the insinuation that they are associated with their oppressors or deserving of their oppression is extremely problematic.
All this is without mentioning that nonwhite communities have far less access in large to vaccinations. Access to the COVID vaccine, even though there is much work to ensure equitable distribution, is a privilege, and belittling those without that privilege is exactly what leftist philosophy argues against.
No part of the association between COVID, bigotry, and lack of education is necessarily true or probable. Espousing this harmful rhetoric distances leftist philosophy from those it aims to support through feelings of resentment. The goal of our interactions with those we may disagree with should be understanding that leads to a change of ideology. Grudges and spite-filled talk does nothing to this end, but destroy all understanding and even further separate the working class.