Vaccine hesitancy came before Trump

Regarding Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker July 26 column on Capitol rioters and anti-vaxxers:

According to an article on Statista.com written by John Elflein last month, 71 percent of U.S. adults felt it was very important for parents to vaccinate their children (29 percent did not) and 70 percent felt vaccines were very important to the health of society (30 percent did not). The surveys were from 2018; well before anti-vaxxers became synonymous with Trump supporters. In 2013, only 77 percent of children in the U.S. had completed all CDC-recommended vaccinations, implying that 23 percent of parents/guardians exhibited some sort of vaccine hesitancy (complacency, inconvenience in access, lack of confidence) nearly a decade ago.

The inclination to characterize today’s 25 percent to 30 percent of unvaccinated Americans as newly minted right-wing soldiers in a new culture war ignores precedent and smacks of implicit bias. You cannot tie anti-vaxxers to Trump unless you draw parallels with the conditions that gave rise to his candidacy. Most Trump voters cast their ballots against liberalism and government overreach; Trump being merely the standard-bearer. It’s foolish to dismiss all of his voters as acolytes, dimwits or malcontents.

It’s easy to vilify those with whom you disagree. It removes the burden of cognitive empathy. Here’s an exercise: Walk a few steps in the shoes of a parent who lost a child to gun violence when faced with those who reserve the right to bear arms; or of a Christian when faced with those who reserve the right to kill unborn babies. Homogeneity does not exist in a free society. One must accept dissent as an essential by-product of liberty.

Scott Weaver

Mukilteo

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