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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Republicans condemn vaccine passport as ‘dystopian,’ ‘Biden’s Mark of the Beast,’ and so on

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Still not expelled from Congress for her seditious acts, Republican helium balloon and person actually elected to something Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is the one to invoke this nostalgic bit this time. Greene believes—or rather is willing to record herself saying—a government “vaccine passport” is “Biden’s Mark of the Beast.” Oh, and it’s also “corporate communism.” Take your pick. Whatever you find most frightening.


It can also be a spider in your pant leg, or a wasp nest inside your car door, or the dead thing your cat just brought you. Just pretend those things are either religiously significant and/or communism and you’ll do fine.

In the previous millennium, mind you, this Mark of the Beast language was absolutely everywhere. It was the eye on dollar bills, it was the barcodes on cereal boxes, it was patterns of shadow on a granite cliffside, it was the scar left by a smallpox vaccination, it was the first neck-breaking cellphones—everything. It was a time when The Beast was making mad royalties, apparently, but seemed to go out of style sometime after Newt Gingrich was shamed out of office. Those two things are probably not related, though.

So then, is a document or smartphone code that you can show to prove your vaccination status the Mark of the Beast? No. No, it is not. For starters, I have met Mark personally and he is not that bad. For seconders, we already have very compelling biblical evidence allowing us to surmise what the “Mark of the Beast,” the one that people will wear on their “forehead,” might be.


But Treasony Greene is far from the only conservative bookburner to declare that any proposed “vaccine passport” that government might have a hand in standardizing and which private businesses might use to refuse entry to the unvaccinated is tyranny. Fellow toxic blowhard Rep. Justin Amash calls it “dystopian” to have to show your “health papers” wherever you go, which will probably be a fun little giggle for the, for example, Arizonians required to carry proof of citizenship with them wherever they go so that they would not be hauled off to concentration camps by the deputies of America’s Most Fascist Sheriff.

You can rest assured that many, many Americans attempted to explain to Amash that actually American children in particular are already regularly required to show proof of vaccination whenever they enter a new school, when they show up for college or some summer camps, and there are whole lists of vaccinations that need to be proven to enter or leave the country. You can rest assured that Amash heard none of it because he was already buzzing off to contemplate what the next “dystopian” thing might be.

Just to clarify, here are some things that are not “dystopian”: half a million Americans dead while state and federal government snicker at pandemic dangers and suggest that surely the elderly will be willing to die off for the sake of the greater good. Seizing the children of refugee parents and placing them in separate camps in order to strike fear into other parents that might attempt the journey. Demanding a national election be undone when the far-right incumbent refuses to acknowledge his loss. Attempting to assassinate a vice president for not going along with it. Demanding the military be brought in to attack and subdue protesters making demands of their government.

Things that are dystopian: wearing cloth over your face-holes during a worldwide health crisis. Not being able to get shitfaced in your local bar during a deadly disease outbreak. Not being able to shoot Black protesters whose scary signs and slogans have frightened your delicate Call of Duty basement whiteness. The estate of a dead author discontinuing a half-dozen works leaning on past racist tropes that new audiences cannot so easily brush past.

Similarly, pandemic serial killer and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem asserts the “passport” idea to be “one of the most un American ideas in our nation’s history”; and the House Republican Caucus Against Booklearning is foaming at the mouth over the idea of private businesses forcing Science onto the rest of us; and Tickle Me Elmo of violent sedition Rep. Lauren Boebert is shoving the flag up her nose, rhetorically speaking, and daring folks to remove it; and the nation’s Most Unhinged Gun Freaks are, as usual, threatening to kill the rest of us if anyone tries refusing their business.

Ah, yes. There have been quite a few of those. Allow me to once again gently suggest that when we’re making the lists of which Americans should absolutely never ever be allowed to own guns, not even one, the very top of the list should be “people who use their guns to threaten violence against anyone who tries to get them to abide by basic societal rules.” Jimbillybobbyjoewhatever here is among the last people in America who should have gun access, and perhaps ought to be the newest guest of honor at a FBI Come And Take It Home Invasion Potluck Party real quick here.

Also, buddy, when invoking your freedoms and whatnot, maybe avoid pointing your freedom tool directly at a founding father’s head. Might be some unintended symbolism going on with that, perhaps.

At heart, the premise of what nearly everyone is now calling a vaccine “passport” is relatively straightforward. As the pandemic hopefully winds down, hopefully before new variants in the unvaccinated population blossom into new pandemics of their own, it is likely that “returning to normal” could be sped along by allowing Americans to offer up some standardized proof that they have been vaccinated and are now resistant to the pandemic virus. It is fussy work to get right because the need for patient privacy dictates that no other information be released—but enough identifying information needs to be put forward to prove that this record of vaccination goes with this specific person.

But the benefits of such documentation could be extraordinary in returning to the “normal” that everyone demands we return to as quickly as possible. If stadiums, concerts, convention halls, and other spaces wanted to return to normal business functions, it’s quite likely that by instituting a vaccinated-only policy during coming months they could return to full capacity. No every-third-seat filled, no having to limit tickets to a fraction of what they previously could have seated, but true, profitable “normal.”

It would be an immediate economic windfall and propel the economy forward at maximum speed with maximum safety. But if venues did not want to enforce the “dystopian” safety measure, they would not have to: A restaurant could, for example, either choose to open at full capacity with vaccinated-only entry or to keep going at restricted capacity but without having to enforce any such checks. The great and holy free market shall decide these questions according to the gods of profit, just as Amash has mandated in his own career of holy blowhardisms.

Yet again we find ourselves in a precarious state. Conservatism in all its forms, from religious to libertarian, is insistent that businesses be given the absolute right not to serve gay people, or Muslims, or suspected premarital fornicators according to the discretion and whims of whoever might be at the counter that day. But if businesses choose not to do business with the unvaccinated during a worldwide health crisis? Break out the beast-o-meters and stock up on bullets, because this will not stand.

Uuuuugh. Just … uuuuugh.

Again, none of this had to be this way. If Donald J. Trump had been even remotely competent, even competent enough to simply step aside and zipperate his piehole while other people talked, basic pandemic safety measures would have been much less controversial, brickheaded Republican loyalists would not have scrambled to hastily post-justify presidential incompetence as genius, and this nation would have ended up with roughly a half million fewer pandemic deaths. If Orange Hitler had not only claimed sole credit for the resulting vaccine, but bellowed that it was intended only for True Patriots and that the syringe was stuffed with liberty and his own flopsweat, his followers would be pointing guns at each other as they raced to the front of the vaccine lines. We are here only because conservatism is now indistinguishable from conspiracy theory, and because spitting contempt for expertise over bullheadedness became the movement’s only defining ideology, and because the Fox News board of directors literally does not give even one damn about how many deaths their network programming is directly responsible for in the quest to make America a one-party state.

It turns out that reality-contemptuous fascist bluster is among the least effective responses to a health emergency one can muster. Who knew?

As to whether a “vaccine passport” will prove to be effective in practice? It is … hard to say. For large venues—stadiums, convention centers, and possibly theme parks—it is quite possible that the idea will be adopted on a wide scale this summer. These places stand to make quick and extremely profitable recoveries if they can return to prepandemic capacity.

But they also have their own private security forces, ones able and willing to manhandle any visitor who objects into a waiting van that will deposit them either outside the property, or into a local jail, or to the end of a nearby jetty. That may be the key to their success at a time when Republican elected officials are bellowing to anyone who will listen that such measures are satanic and oppressive.

Restaurants, grocery stores, clothing shops, and other businesses don’t have their own dedicated paramilitary teams, however, and that’s where Countertop Rambo and friends will be showing up most often to do their pandemic preening. Restaurant workers and other employees are already being subjected to violence over mask restrictions, in large part when gutless cowards in state elected offices opted to dodge responsibility by leaving matters of public health to the least paid workers in their states, and whether these smaller businesses can enforce vaccination credentialing with any success remains to be seen. Workers may have to decide between a deadly contagion and a gunshot, which … seems to be what Amash is going for.

As for what Marjorie Taylor Sedition Carnival 50% Off With First Purchase Greene is going for, who knows. She seems to crib most of her political rhetoric from decades-old John Birch Society handouts or from a proprietary mix of Fox News and Ambien the rest of us aren’t privy to, and hopefully never will be.


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