“We live not for today, but for the ages yet to come, and the children yet unborn.” — Mary Harris (Mother) Jones

Archive for September, 2021

On How the Media Deflect Us from the Real Enemy

As I write this, the media, both corporate and social, are flooded with outrage over the draconian voting and abortion bills passed into law in Texas, and gleeful Shadenfreude on the party of the Comfortable Class as they sneer at all the ignorant hillbillies taking “horse dewormer” instead of just getting the COVID vaccine.

As a result of the latter, an anti-parasite medication for both animals and humans that has had some success as a treatment in some cases of COVID has not just been narrowly defined as being only for the former but even resulted in calls that its use be banned entirely with regard to COVID. Instead of responsibly reporting the truth—that there have been a small number of positive responses to treatment of advanced COVID with ivermectin but that there is insufficient evidence to draw any conclusion about it either for or against—they have created a deflective circus that once again reinforces the idea that anyone who dares question the demand for universal vaccination is a Trump-voting, science-denying ignoramus.

Why do I say it’s deflective? There are several reasons.

First, we are only just reaching the point where we can state with sufficient backing of evidence that the current vaccines in use show sufficient efficacy in preventing or mitigating the effects of COVID with only small incidences of serious side effects. Anyone who understands how medication trials work, and who has a personal reason for choosing to wait for more evidence before accepting one that was rushed through that phase, can now make an informed decision.

These would be among those who have been declared “science-deniers” by people many of whom still seem to believe the vaccine renders them immune to COVID, even though the actual science clearly shows otherwise.

Second, not one of those howling the “anti-vaxxers” are killing ourselves, our children, and every other living being susceptible to COVID, grasps the observable fact that if people are confused there is a direct line of responsibility leading to both the US government and the corporate media of both flavors, Fox and non-Fox. The former’s efforts to assure people the experts have everything under control when they clearly didn’t would have been enough to convince people who don’t have a college-level grasp of biology nobody knew anything for sure.

Add to that the media’s ongoing barrage of only that information likely to keep people’s stress levels at 11, changing it with every breeze as the next new thing emerged from the science, and making sure the only people being blamed for the mess were either the previous President or the current one, the Republican Party and the “liberals”, and all those “deplorables” Hillary Clinton mentioned, and how is it to be wondered people refuse to believe anything anymore.

The corporate media derives its very existence from playing to the confirmation bias of its target audience, and this has been blatantly clear for the entire course of the pandemic in the US. It ignored the initial outbreak in China for months—I was reading about it in October of 2019—until the US had broken China’s quarantine to bring home people who should have stayed where they were and “suddenly” there were cases here.

I watched as our government claimed it didn’t have a full report on the seriousness of the situation until the end of January, and then waited until March to decide something needed to be done. I watched as the media all but ignored how at least six members of Congress were caught using the information about the virus to benefit their stock portfolios all through February while at the same time politicizing the narrative to maintain their Trump-based revenue stream.

Last month, the FDA approved one of the two major vaccines, and the press were all agog that here, finally, was the “proof” all those vaccine-rejecting fools said they wanted, never mind that by this time that ship had not only sailed but sunk. Absent from their reports, curiously, was the fact that the other major vaccine, released at exactly the same time as the approved one, still awaited FDA imprimatur despite the scientific evidence it was more effective and provided protection longer.

I’m still waiting for that question to be asked, much less answered.

Finally, I see the media regularly inserting timely articles concerning the economy, and how it will suffer unless everyone gets back to work. That these stories ignore the number of people who have to work to get back to because the funds supposedly meant to help small businesses survive went instead to offshoots of mega-corporations. And were, in some cases, used to fund stock buybacks to benefit executives’ and stockholders’ bottom lines.

Still, the effort has been highly effective. People who ordinarily at least try to apply critical-thinking skills are now demanding people be vaccinated, willy-nilly. Suggest working to counter the media misinformation that’s led to so many rejecting the idea, and in some cases rejecting even the existence of the virus itself, might be more effective than getting them fired or thrown out of school or whatever authoritarian consequence they deem appropriate is met with cries of horror.

The fact that the majority of children dying from COVID now isn’t the fault of those who reject vaccination. It’s the fault of a for-profit healthcare business and a culture of systemic oppression that left those children undernourished and less healthy. It’s the fault of an economic system that exploits workers by paying them starvation wages to do the kind of labor guaranteed to increase their level of exposure to infection.

That these facts are not even being discussed, and at a time when demands for equality and justice are at a level not seen in more than a century, shows just how effective media deflection works. Once again it has us attacking each other instead of those who are truly responsible, all the while media conglomerates rake in revenue, and the government establishes more precedent for expanding its control over acceptable behavior.

Just so we’re clear, I believe anyone who qualifies for the vaccine and who wants to engage with the outside world should have it. I also believe they should do so with clear understanding what it will and will not do, and how it will protect them and those they have contact with. I will also continue to regard with those vaccines with careful regard for the ever-changing information connected to them.

I also believe we should have access to all available successfully tested vaccines, including those from China, Cuba, and Russia, with the information about their efficacy, side effects, and longevity provided in ways understandable even to those not versed in science. In other words, I object to having my options limited when I know the corporations associated with the two “acceptable” version made major revenue gains in the last two years.