By Erin K. Costello
Last week I came across a video that I found most disturbing. There are many ideas and actions that trouble me from the anti-vaccination movement, though I rarely find a new one that shocks me. Last week was one of those rare moments. In response to the NYC state of emergency public ban on those not vaccinated, Del Bigtree dialed up the drama. In a YouTube video, Del Bigtree gives a speech on March 28, 2019, to a crowd in Austin, Texas, and specifically to the Rockland County Orthodox Jewish community that has been most impacted by the county’s recent measles outbreak since so many have chosen not to vaccinate. At the end of his speech, Del then grabs a yellow piece of, what appears to be, fabric shaped like a Jewish Star of David, and then pins it to his lapel. While he did this, he likened himself along with all other anti-vaccination supporters, to being in danger of the same type of persecution that Jewish people tragically endured during WWII. He even went as far as to say, "I stand with you. I stand with a nation that said we will never oppress the minorities. We will stand with your religious conviction. We will let you believe in your God, we will let you raise your children the way you see fit. I stand in a nation that does not bring hand sanitizer and hand it out referring to innocent children as though they are dirty. We have ween that before and we will never let that happen in this beautiful country. You know who washed their hands with hand sanitizer? Pontius Pilate. That's who did as they sent the lamb to slaughter. We will not let our government state capitals send our children to slaughter. Certainly not in Texas. Certainly now where liberty reigns supreme. Certainly not where parents call the shots. We stand now together." The video then fades to black showing the hashtag "#StandWithRocklandJews."
After this speech began to make the rounds on social media, more and more anti-vaccination zealots adopted the yellow star as some sort of symbol of anti-vaccination hardships. Some even made this star their profile picture with “Anti-Vax” written in Hebrew letters in the middle of the star. I was not shocked by the antisemitism. What I found so disturbing and surprising is that anti-vaccination advocates were now going public with their dislike of the Jewish, and especially that a known figure in this movement made such a public spectacle of his disrespect and disdain of Jewish followers. The antisemitism though? This is nothing new. For years myself, other admin, and colleagues have been reading posts ranging in flat out hate to the Jewish community to a strange obsession with Nazi imagery and Hitler idealization made apparent by how often they insist and explain the ways the anti-vaccine movement is the new Holocaust and they are the real victims of government tyranny, unlike the Jewish during WWII. The majority of the vocal anti-vaccination movement on social media is sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and racist. I type this sentence out and though it is true, I find it wanting. I cannot find an appropriate way to convey just how disgusting the anti-vaccine community treats the Jewish faith, or any minority. The best I can do is show you.
Below are image galleries of screen shots I spent the past couple days collecting for this blog post. I went back as far as 2013 in some groups (not all groups have existed since then). In every group I did a keyword search using, “Nazi,” “Hitler,” Holocaust,” “Jew (I HATE even typing this word instead of ‘Jewish’),” and “anti-Semitic.” I searched in the following anti-vaccine Facebook groups; Stop Mandatory Vaccination, Modern Alternative Mamas!, Vaccine Education Network : Natural Health Anti-Vaxx Community, Vaccination Re-education Discussion Forum, Anti-Vaccination Australia, VACCINE TRUTH MOVEMENT, VaccineChoices - Fact VS Fiction, Conversations & Research, Vaccine Resistance Movement: VRM Updates & News From The Trenches, Vaccine Abolition Society, Learn The Risk, HOLISTIC ACTION in the VACCINE LIBRARY, Educate Before You Vaccinate, VACCINE INSERT FILES AND EDUCATION TOOLS, and a couple of other smaller groups. I did not search comments to posts. I only screen shot some comments that appeared in the feed under the post and caught my attention, but I did not go searching comments in post threads. These posts featured are only a fraction of what is posted in many pf these anti-vaccinating groups. The antisemitism that is found in these groups is in no way rare, however, these posts I have gathered here for this blog post are the more extreme attitudes I found. What is also equally disturbing as the posts themselves, is the fact that in most of these posts found in the majority of these groups, other members do not question this behavior or even seem to find it outrageous.
I have arranged the image galleries by the year posts were made to Facebook. I did crop off or redact names and most of users’ profile pictures. We normally do not make a point to do this on the website since we don’t have to and we aren’t usually calling attention to any one person in particular like we do on our Facebook page, but considering the subject content I chose to make the effort to prevent any harassment or cyber stalking. I find myself having the urge to seek some of those featured below out on social media and let them know what a piece of shit they are, but acting on such urges, though arguably warranted, is never the right way to handle things like this. I don’t really know how to correctly handle comments like these, but I do know that scaring strangers on-line is just not the right way. I know I am very angry at the things I have seen from the anti-vaccine cult over the past week and I want to expose what I have seen, but I do not want anyone harmed.
Each galley is one year from 2013-2019. Images are not separated by groups since they are mostly all the same type of group to begin with. I will give a more detailed description on each image as necessary. I should warn you though, you will be wrecked after reading these.
What's The Harm?