The Next Ugly Stage of the Pandemic of Fear
At the beginning of the pandemic, I felt sympathy and pity for those who chose to live in fear. Many had been misinformed by media, politicians, and bureaucrats whose investment in accumulating wealth and consolidating power outweighed any loyalty to ethics, truth, and public welfare. Now, I believe that maintaining that sympathy may be not only undeserved but potentially harmful, because the fear has evolved into something far more dark and destructive: sadism--deriving pleasure from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on another.
In summer 2020, I was banned for life from Delta airlines for drinking water for longer than six minutes on a flight from Atlanta to Moline, Iowa. At least, that was what I was told by the flight attendant, who was apparently carrying a stopwatch and using it to measure the amount of time I spent with my face uncovered after boarding the plane. When the plane landed, the “station manager” escorted me off, prompting a round of applause from the other passengers. I wasn’t personally offended—I interpreted the applause as an expression of relief rather than of contempt. The tirade they had witnessed from the flight attendant had scared them, and my prompt removal from the plane made them feel safe. I felt pity toward them rather than anger.
More than a year later, the situation has changed dramatically. Certainly, there are still many Americans living in fear. Some have been suffering from a state of chronic fear for so long now that a more accurate way to describe them would be “traumatized.” Others, however, have largely overcome their fear and are now leading lives of brazen cruelty toward their fellow man, and they are enjoying every minute of it.
Recently, the famed Leftist academic Noam Chomsky recommended in an interview that those who chose not to be vaccinated should self-segregate. When asked how they would obtain food, he responded that finding a way to eat was “their problem.” His position resembles that of Middle Age European townsfolk who, on discovering a woman had committed adultery, would expel her from the village into the surrounding forest to fend for herself, fully aware she would likely starve to death, unless she was eaten alive by wild animals first. Sadism at its finest.
Nationally syndicated talk-show host (and unvaccinated) Dennis Prager recovered from infection by the coronavirus last month. During his three-day absence from broadcasting, he announced the reason for his taking time off. On his return, he read on-air some of the hundreds of comments made about him by journalists, commentators, and the public that were published online or posted on social media. “I hope you die.” “People like you should be refused treatment.” “You finally got what you deserve.” He explained that none of these comments upset him personally. “I’m not hurt by this, but I do feel sad for my country.” He also apologized for letting these people down by not dying and recovering fully in only three days.
I submit that these examples do not describe fear, or even anger. They exemplify sadism. Americans have begun to take pleasure in seeing other Americans suffer. This sickness appears to be unidirectional. How many examples can be found of pro-medical choice individuals expressly calling for the death of those who support vaccine mandates for all? The few that I have come across have been roundly condemned by people on both sides. Where are the condemnations from the pro-mandate crowd of Noam Chomsky’s genocidal proclamation, or the online commentators rooting for the demise of Dennis Prager, whose only crime is to have publicly announced his personal choice not to be vaccinated?
Australia has completed construction of “quarantine camps” that will presumably hold Australians who refuse the vaccine. These camps will be guarded by the military. Austria has already ordered its police to arrest anyone out in public without a vaccine card. These government-sanctioned crackdowns on the fundamental liberty of bodily autonomy raise comparisons to the Nazi regime. To be fair, no one has yet been interned or executed. That is an important distinction. The justification for the policies, though, is eerily similar to what every totalitarian regime uses to legitimize its extra-judicial police powers: Public safety necessitates the elimination of an internal threat. In 1930s Nazi Germany, the internal threat was the Jews. The internal threat today is the unvaccinated. As President Biden is fond of saying, despite unassailable medical evidence to the contrary, “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated…and our patience is wearing thin.” This talk from a United States president is not only irresponsible, it also encourages the darkest impulses in human beings.
The institution of the mask dehumanized American men and women, just as the veil has dehumanized Muslim women in much of the Islamic world. “He is so ashamed he can no longer show his face in public” is not an empty metaphor. Anonymity coupled with obligatory visual identifiers of group affiliation (like the infamous Jewish yellow star) emboldens unaccountable ugliness and cruelty. When media, politicians, and bureaucrats side with the abuser, they provide both social and legal cover for sadistic acts that only a brief time ago virtually all Americans would have publicly condemned. Now we not only condone intentional cruelty but encourage it. We scowl at the sight of the unwashed forced to hastily consume their restaurant food in an unheated outdoor tent in winter. We smile at the firing of the refuseniks who object to employer mandates, and happily deny them both their pension and unemployment benefits. We celebrate the medical apartheid state that ghettoizes Americans who exercise medical choice. After all, they made their choice. Let them suffer.
I treat children and adults with mental illness. I see the dark side of human nature, and I try to understand it, so that I can treat it. I have no sympathy for the rise of sadism I see in America, and in Americans, today. It is ugly, despicable, and wholly destructive. It is fundamentally anti-American.
“My body my choice” has now been replaced with “Vaccine make free.” And if you don’t agree, they will take pleasure in seeing you off to the camp.
Mark McDonald, M.D.
Psychiatrist and author of United States of Fear: How America Fell Victim to a Mass Delusional Psychosis