Never Waste a Tragedy: COVID, Comorbidities, and Eugenics.

As the newest COVID variant blasts across the country and Americans are left with the message that only the weak are really getting sick, rhetoric surrounding vaccines has once again taken center stage. The plague of skepticism continues to grow and take root with outrageous assertions endangering lives, and those spouting vaccine hesitancy as intellectual scrutiny stepping onto a slippery slope of elitism, privilege, and yes, eugenics.

Privilege and the notion of personal freedom are being weaponized on both ends of the political spectrum, and while talking heads seem to be spending their energy questioning the government and science, no one seems to be taking the time to question the sources of this discord.

Who would benefit from making both political extremities nervous about vaccines? Who would benefit from turning a nation that has shuffled diseases that killed millions into childhood inconveniences and eradicated things like measles, smallpox, and polio into science deniers? Who would benefit from convincing us that proof of vaccination, something every parent shows for their kindergartner across the nation, is suddenly the mark of their long-sought-after “end times”? Who would benefit from taking one of our last remaining pillars of superiority on the world stage and making it so even our own people doubt it?

Could it possibly be the same people who wanted our Capitol terrorized and our elected officials hanged? Perhaps it isn’t anyone specific at all, but rather a decades-long campaign of disinformation and distrust coming to fruition. Maybe foreign powers laid such effective groundwork that they don’t even have to directly injure us anymore because the wheels are in motion and we are perfectly content to injure ourselves.

Regardless, I am still astonished when I see educated, earnest people putting doubt and fear into the minds of their less-advantaged neighbors without first asking: who would benefit from massively-undereducated Americans dying because they believe they can learn about science from celebrities and Google?

I thought we learned this lesson with the discredited Dr. Wakefield, now stripped of his licensure and shunned by the medical community.

Already we have seen the narrative around vaccine hesitancy change from fear over new, quickly developed technologies to purely-political talking points. Fear over tracking devices fired into the ether from smartphones featuring GPS that cannot be completely turned off. “My body, my choice,” lobbed back at women, a false equivalence to women’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They are arguments as substantive as cotton candy, dissolving in an instant, leaving a cloying taste in the mouth.

Most offensively, these arguments don’t even make sense. You cannot equate abortion to refusing the vaccine until abortions are performed in a crowd by the woman firing a gun sideways through her abdomen ending the pregnancy, endangering her own life, using up EMT and hospital resources, and potentially firing stray bullets into anyone within six feet. Then it would be equal. Then it would be the same as being willing to incubate a deadly virus at great risk to others.

Now emerges, “Only those with comorbidities are dying”. Do you know what qualifies as a “comorbidity”? Anxiety. Depression. ADHD. Pregnancy. Premature birth. How quickly the pro-life party turns to eugenics immediately post-birth. Perfect or perish. I’m sure Francis Galton and Josef Mengele would be so proud.

It’s just as odd to hear “survival of the fittest” from these people who won’t let evolution be taught in schools, but even that logic doesn’t hold because who is really the “fittest”? The one unvaccinated dude shouting “hallelujah” when he makes it through COVID because of the immune system he inherited or the scientist who uses their super-evolved brain to save millions?

Ironically, those who say that science isn’t perfect are right. It’s true that the information about COVID has and will change. That is the nature of science. Learning. Willingness to be “wrong”, which is the only way to find more information, to do better, to help people.

If you are a minority, specifically Native American or black, these doubts make more sense in a long history of using minorities as lab rats. But no blue-eyed, milk-skinned relative of mine has ever once been in danger of forced sterilization by the federal government. The only risk to the people who look like me is from our own, from people who look like us and vote to have us eliminated by policy or by turning their own bodies into biological weapons so they can rid the earth of the imperfect, the unwanted. The people like me. Like my mother. Like my uncle and my 10-year-old son. Like my perfect, yet premature twin babies. Like my neighbor. Probably like you.

Do you smoke? Have you ever? Drink alcohol? Fall into the average American body type (i.e. overweight-to-obese)? Have any of your family members been diagnosed with mental health disorders? Are there physical or intellectual disabilities in your family? You might carry those genes. They don’t want you here either.

Funny thing though, I wonder what defects are hiding under all those white hoods. I wonder how many of them are chanting talking points that would endanger their own lives as well. I wonder if they even stop to question that as they march with their signs and torches and spit dangerous talking points on the internet. I hope you do.

This story originally appeared on

Published by JulianneKing

Julianne King (she/her) is the author of Sex Work & Other Sins and Bible Belt Revolution. Her poetry has been featured in the South Florida Poetry Journal, Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing, and on Rattlecast Open Mic. King's work focuses on mental health, surviving Christianity, reclaiming the body, and post-traumatic growth. She lives just outside of St. Louis, Missouri with her six children and chosen family.

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