Joy Reid's hysteria
Recently, MSNBC commentator Joy Reid stated that black people might not trust a COVID-19 vaccine because it was developed during the Trump administration, and because of past unethical treatment of blacks by the medical community, such as what happened with the Tuskegee experiments. For blacks to today avoid a potentially life-saving vaccine because of past mistreatment of some blacks by some scientists would be a tragedy. To frame such a response as rational in 2020 — as Ms. Reid did — is absurd.
The proposition of "since people like you were mistreated in the past, therefore one should mistrust science today" is nonsense. As recently as the 1970s, gay men were subjected to electroshock therapy by physicians with the intent on changing the men's sexual orientation. Would a gay person today be rational if he were suspicious of a COVID-19 vaccine because of earlier mistreatment of gays by the medical profession? What would be the media's reaction to this imagined fear? Would a prominent commentator be rightly mocked for giving such suspicions a respectful voice?
Consider the past treatment of women by the medical field. For centuries, countless women whose behavior displeased their husbands were diagnosed with "female hysteria." Sometimes this diagnosis led to institutionalization well into the 20th century. How would reasonable people view a woman who refused a COVID-19 vaccine, with her refusal based upon this past abuse of women? Hysterical, perhaps? What about a commentator who argued that such a refusal was understandable?
The harm of taking ridiculous fears seriously takes several forms. The first is that some people may act on such fears and avoid the potentially life-saving vaccine. This has happened in Afghanistan with the polio vaccine. A chance to eradicate a deadly disease was lost because of a primitive suspicion that the vaccine was a Western plot.
Unfortunately, Reid's condoning this transparently ridiculous suspicion will not be laughed away. Those who passively report this suspicion with the implication that it's plausible will not be rebuked. No matter how implausible, a fantastical fear that comports with the woke narrative on race will be politely received. Even if the notion is not loudly embraced by every progressive, it will not get the mockery it deserves.
If there is a disparity in future COVID-19 vaccination rates between blacks and other groups, is there any doubt that racism will be blamed? In the blinkered worldview of the woke, the exclusive cause of every racial disparity must be racism. If this unfortunate situation occurs, those of us not yoked to the only acceptable P.C. explanation will know the true cause is an irrational suspicion of medicine enabled by ideological opportunists like Reid.
Image: Phil Roeder.