MONDAY, JANUARY 4, 2021
Intellectual, moral disorder: On Saturday morning, we sat down—with the analysts arrayed around us—for one of the two "sacred hours" we try to observe each week.
It was 7 A.M. Eastern—time for C-Span's Washington Journal to spend an hour taking phone calls from viewers. As the program began, Jesse Holland defined the day's question:
Do you plan to get vaccinated against the coronavirus?
The standard collection of phone calls rolled in, almost always from good, decent people. At 7:43 A.M., an instructive exchange occurred.
The caller was calling from Bismarck, North Dakota. And no, he said, he wasn't planning to accept vaccination.
We've transcribed the exchange in full. At the 43-minute mark, you can hear the full exchange here:
JESSE (1/2/20): Let's go to John, who's calling from Bismarck, North Dakota. And John says no, he will not be getting the Covid-19 vaccine. John, good morning.
JOHN: Good morning. I don't plan on getting it. I've had friends that got Covid and they, they survived. It's a 98% survivability rate. And the ones that survived, they said it was not a really big deal. You know, it wasn't, it wasn't a pleasant experience but they—it took them a week, ten days and they were over it, and now they got the antibodies. They got tested for antibodies and they got it.
And I just don't think it's necessary for me. I'm healthy, I don't have any comorbidities, I'm under the age of 60. It just doesn't—it doesn't concern me at all. I don't have anybody in my life that's close to me who's elderly or has comorbidities, and I just don't think it's necessary.
Plus, I know this might sound kinda weird, but I'm a, I'm a movie buff, and I've watched World War Z and I Am Legend. And those movies, all that trouble came after people got the vaccinations. It wasn't disease that caused all the issues, it was the vaccination. So that's my thoughts.
John knew that last remark sounded strange, but he offered it anyway. Before we focus on that final remark, let's summarize the various things he said.
Plainly, John is familiar with some of the variables which affect the degree of threat the coronavirus provides. He's under sixty, and he has no comorbidities. On this basis, and on several others, he said he thinks that vaccination isn't necessary for him.
For ourselves, we wouldn't agree with that reasoning, but John displayed a basic familiarity with some of the fundamentals of the Covid threat. Then, he added another point. Let's restate what he said:
Yes, that's what he said. If you listen to the tape, you will note the following:
This C-Span caller was totally serious when he stated this line of reasoning. Although he knows his reasoning might sound weird, you won't hear the slightest sign that his comment was tongue in cheek.
In short, John said that he has seen vaccination lead to chaos in a pair of Hollywood films. In part on this basis, he won't be accepting the Covid vaccine, he told C-Span's giant audience.
Full disclosure—we've never seen World War Z. That said, the leading authority on the film describes it as "a 2013 American apocalyptic zombie action horror film."
The leading authority doesn't specify that World Wat Z is fictional. Because we've never seen the film, we don't know if its (fictional) events proceed in the way John described.
We have seen chunks of I Am Legend. According to that same authority, it unfolds in the following (fictional) manner:
In 2009, a genetically re-engineered measles vaccine, originally created as a cure for cancer, turns lethal. The vaccine kills 90% (5.4 billion out of 6.0 billion) of the world's population and turns 9.8% (588 million) into vampiric, albino, zombie-like, cannibalistic mutants called Darkseekers, who are extremely vulnerable to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight. The remaining 0.2% (12 million) of the population is immune to the virus and is the prey of the mutant Darkseekers.
Warning! The events described in that synopsis were fictional in nature!
John has seen both these zombie films, each of which did big business worldwide. In part on the basis of what he saw in these films, he has decided that he won't be taking the Covid vaccine.
That part of John's reasoning struck us as very poor. But so it tends to go, each weekend morning, during these sacred hours.
John was calling C-Span from a very red state. Beyond that, he had reached a somewhat "red state"-friendly conclusion concerning the Covid vaccines.
For these reasons, it's easy for us in the streets of Our Town to dismiss John as one of "those people." Indeed, it's long been a basic part of our sacred tribal belief:
The dumbbells are all Over There.
For ourselves, we'd say that John's reasoning was extremely poor. As noted, very strange reasoning is a regular part of C-Span programming during each weekend's sacred hours.
Very strange reasoning is quite common whenever C-Span takes phone calls. Despite this fact, it's long been part of upper-end pundit scripting to declare that "the American people are pretty sharp."
When we see major pundits in Our Town currying favor in this way, we sometimes wonder if they've ever tuned in to Washington Journal.
(Full disclosure: In 1999 and 2000, we appeared on the program three times.)
It's easy for us, over here in Our Town, to regard John as one of "those people." In the next few weeks, we'll be asking an heretical question:
To what extent do we self-impressed folk over here in Our Town resemble those found Over There?
We'll be examining the intellectual infrastructure on wide display in Our Town. Beyond that, we'll start to look at the basic values which prevail in the streets of Our Town, including the values which prevail in Our Town concerning our Hollywood movies.
Within the realm of intellect, we in our country are all trapped inside a modern Babel. Within the realm of basic values, it can almost be said that we're living in a type of dim-witted modern Gomorrah.
Is it possible that our intellectual infrastructure is a giant mess even here in Our Town? Is it possible that, if it weren't for our famous performative virtue, we'd come up a bit short in the streets of Our Town with respect to values as well?
Tomorrow, we'll be starting our analysis with Donald J. Trump's recent phone call—but also, with the reaction to that phone call overheard in the streets of Our Town. We'll be focusing on the intellectual skills, or the lack of same, we bring to our instant critiques.
We won't likely focus on values until the start of next week. But when we do, we may look at the way the New York Times has normalized the devolving values of some very big Hollywood films. Can any society with values like ours really expect to thrive?
Here within our failing nation, we're living inside a strikingly obvious modern Babel. Our warring tribes are able to speak to themselves and to no one else. Each tribe has its own sacred language.
When it comes to our nation's values, we've been watching some Hollywood films of late. We've also been watching our own tribe's highly entertaining "cable news" TV shows, where the values can be very poor.
Tomorrow, we'll start with the president's recent phone call. Things will go downhill from there.
Tomorrow: "Do you think it’s possible that they shredded ballots? Because that’s what the rumor is."