A popular Christian writer and speaker recently posted the following to his Twitter and Facebook pages.
I shared an opinion that, when we start referring to people who think differently from us as a kind of disease, we’re taking a dangerous and dehumanizing step.
It’s Conservative (not liberal) Christians who don’t get vaccinated, even though plenty of non-Conservatives have decided against vaccination. They’re not making a personal choice (I thought “my body, my choice” was a popular slogan on the left?). They’re irrationally REFUSING to do what EVERYONE (who thinks like him) has already shown is a righteous and just act!
In fact, their behavior in the past fueled surges! They are the reason you haven’t seen your grand kids in a year! It’s their fault you can’t go out to eat! They’re actively spreading fear and misinformation! This is a wholly new and dangerous pandemic!
He doesn’t outright state that Conservative Christians are, themselves, a disease. But it’s heavily implied, and how far a leap is it from labeling a group of people you disagree with as active spreaders of fear and misinformation to saying things like “we need to put a stop to these insects … by any means necessary.”
He accuses people of dangerous rhetoric with no proof, but engages in dehumanizing rhetoric without a second thought.
History is full of powerful people using propagandist tactics like this to justify doing horrific things to people they hate. Rather than engaging in discussion and seeking to understand, they align the OTHERS with increasingly dangerous ideologies and shriek. Eventually, someone attacks. Someone always attacks. It’s a playbook as old as time itself.
The conversation on his Facebook page did not go well. He accused me of not caring about the COVID pandemic, of ignoring conspiracy theories, of being an anti-vaxxer and anti-science moron. None of it’s true, but that doesn’t matter. The people who engage in dehumanizing language aren’t interested in dialogue. Point, Shriek, Attack. That’s all they know.
His fans were the same. Loads of baseless accusations. Name calling. Personal attacks. No substance. I’m not human to them. I’m a disease. And if you think differently, you’re a disease, too.
To be fair, this kind of activity exists across all ideologies, all along the political and spiritual spectrum. This is not just a liberal thing or a conservative thing, a christian thing or an atheist thing. This is a human thing. It’s everyone, all of us.
My comments were eventually deleted. Shortly thereafter, there was a comment from The Man himself, stating that all anti-vaxxer comments were being deleted because those people are dangerous and need to be stopped.
Which proves my point.
And I suppose it matters very little that I read this comment shortly after checking for openings to get a vaccine at any of the local centers (I was unable to find anything. Florida does a good job, but we have a lot of people here). These people are quick to judge, and quick to find fault. They write their labels in ink and they very rarely reconsider.
I think discussing vaccinations and real reasons why some people chose to do and some people choose not to. But we can’t get there if people like Matthew Paul Turner have their heads shoved so far up their own echo chambers, they can’t conceive that people who think differently than them aren’t bugs that need eradicating or diseases that must be stopped.
We’re headed down a dangerous path if that’s who we become.