Professor WIU LEJA, Student Pen Security magazine article: “COVID-19, anti-vaccines and moving forward together”
December 10, 2021
MACOMB / MOLINE, IL – In November 2021, COVID-19 killed five million people worldwide, including 750,000 in the United States.
Western Illinois University Law Enforcement and Justice Administration (LEJA) Professor Dean Alexander, who also heads the WIU Homeland Security Research Program, and LEJA student Caden Buettner, a senior from Lasalle (IL), have recently studied issues relating to people opposed to COVID-19. vaccines, especially fringe actors who threatened or committed acts of violence related to the vaccine and other COVID-related protocols. Their work was recently published in the november issue of Security magazine. This is the 10th article published by Alexander and one of his current and / or former LEJA students, which gives students a great opportunity to showcase the knowledge gained in the classroom, Alexander added.
According to Alexander and Buettner, the reasons for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine vary widely; however, some of the more common justifications include people believing that vaccines do not work or cause more damage than the virus itself; vaccines have not been studied enough; demanding a vaccine encroaches on his freedom (the “my body, my choice” argument); they contain microchips and / or alter a person’s DNA; and are part of an effort to control the population.
“These arguments are brought forward by well-meaning individuals to those who are less, and some of the latter may even support violence against others who have different perspectives,” Alexander added. “It’s important to differentiate between those who take an anti-vaccine stance and those who break the law trying to advance a cause.”
The couple shared in the article that anti-vaccines and others bemoan the insufficient attention given to natural immunity in the population. In October 2021, a conservative radio show host said he was deliberately seeking COVID-19 (and he did), doing so “in the hope that I would gain natural immunity and that I would be supported by therapy “. t ideal because a study found that unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than a vaccinated person.
Alexander and Buettner note that the social stigma of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in parts of the country has caused some patients to go so far as to dress up to get the vaccine and want full reassurance that their vaccination status is not. is not disclosed.
“For individuals to pursue such measures, it underscores just how caustic the debate over COVID-19 inoculation has become. On a related note, many anti-vaccines could use fake COVID-19 vaccination cards as more mandates are passed. This is done to avoid vaccination while otherwise appearing and, therefore, retain their employment, ”explained Buettner. “In one of these cases, Vermont state soldiers quit after using fake COVID-19 vaccination cards, and federal agents in Seattle seized fake COVID-19 vaccination cards linked to Idaho . “
According to the article written by the couple, disinformation about COVID-19 is spread widely online and on cable and broadcast networks. The conspiracies project “the power to be seemingly everywhere at once, both impossible to prove and beyond reproach.” Anti-vaxxers have claimed that a Tennessee-based nurse died after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, when the truth was she had an unconscious response. However, this untruth continues to spread on social networks. In addition, anti-vaccines have used the medicine for horses (ivermectin), instead of receiving the vaccine that could cost them their lives.
“Outspokenness is essential in overcoming misinformation about COVID-19, including the vaccine’s overall protection against its non-use is strongly rooted in science, and the fact that a booster may be necessary for some, as with other selected vaccines, does not mean that the COVID-19 vaccine is not an effective instrument, ”said Alexander. “The attacks on COVID-19 public health claims are (in part) due to the fact that the data government officials looked at when they developed their plans was not complete at the time, as the virus continued to evolve. These public health guidelines, some of which were later amended, have been characterized by opponents as evidence that officials did not know what they were doing or have deliberately distorted the data. In reality, none of these things was. “
Particular anti-vaxxers embraced radicalism with the participation in the Jan.6, 2021 siege at the United States Capitol. As with QAnon, Stop the Steal, and other ideologies attracting candidates for political office, the anti-vax matrix also prompts individuals to run for office. These developments may contribute to new chasms in an already turbulent political climate. Once elected, they will achieve political power and possibly attempt to undermine legitimate COVID-19 efforts.
“Fringe elements of the anti-vax community argue that the COVID-19 vaccine is part of a United Nations plan to establish a new world order. the participation of white nationalists, conspiracy theorists, anti-government militias, members of a neofascist street gang and other extremists and crooks, “noted Buettner.” Despite the rise of these fringe groups, tolerance towards anti-vaccines decreases. “
Other fringe anti-vaccination “resistance” efforts straddle or exceed legal boundaries, including their actions against health and other workers. Indeed, harassment, threats and anti-vax disruption have been varied since the onset of the pandemic, according to the article.
“The pandemic has triggered an antipathy among some anti-vaccines towards healthcare workers. So much so that these officials have been slandered, threatened or worse by disparate people who perceive the COVID restrictions and vaccination warrants as being legitimized by them, ”the authors added. “These pillars of society are even pointed out as public enemies within some anti-vaccine groups, who are also involved in intimidation and threats of violence. In a pharmacy in Canada in September 2021, a man punched a nurse in the face, mistake: administering a COVID-19 vaccine to his wife without the husband’s consent, as a woman in Tennessee drove her SUV to health workers and National Guard employees who organized a COVID administration vaccination event. “
The article also cites numerous examples of threats and intimidation towards school board members and school officials for their masks and other mandates in place surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Pandemic opinions can be based on self-taught moral convictions, and in doing so, incivility towards opposing opinions can be done more easily and with greater self-proclaimed moral justification than not,” concluded Alexander and Buettner. “Sadly, this is a reality that we find ourselves confronted with. It is difficult, although possible, to assert adherence to a belief while simultaneously allowing openness when the data demonstrates realities other than those that it is. it was believed to be really emerging. Ultimately, COVID-19, like other dangers, is a risk that must be managed. It is a peril that cannot be eliminated or denied to exist. As such, Current and emerging scientific solutions to reduce the extent and lethality of COVID-19 must be pursued vigorously. Moreover, our common goal should be to attack the virus, not against each other. “
about the authors
Alexander can be contacted at [email protected] He has been a member of the WIU School of LEJA since 2005. His alumni work in law enforcement, government agencies (FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and State Department), and risk management firms across the United States. His teaching, research and speaking activities span terrorism, security and legal issues, and he has lectured in 10 countries, including to law enforcement and military officials at events at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the US State Department and the National Intelligence University. Since his publication on terrorism in 1991, Alexander has written several books on the subject, including: Family Terror Networks (2019), The Islamic State: Combating the Caliphate Without Borders (Lexington, 2015), Business Confronts Terrorism: Risks and Responses ( University of Wisconsin Press, 2004) and Terrorism and Business: The Impact of September 11 2001 (Transnational, 2002).
Buettner is a senior specializing in law enforcement and the administration of justice, with minors in security administration, forensics and homeland security. At WIU, he is Attorney General of the Student Government Association (SGA) of WIU and is the Founder / Chairman of WIU for St. Jude, the Fellowship of Leathernecks Assisting Shriners Hospitals (FLASH) and the Leatherneck Presbyterian Alliance. Buettner is also learning Arabic to master reading and writing in that language. After graduation, he plans to work for federal law enforcement.
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