In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread. And among those diseases could be COVID-19.
Unfortunately, Republican politicians and conservative media figures are increasingly joining up with the anti-vaxxers. Even before COVID, they were fighting vaccine mandates and other public health measures.
The anti-vax movement has a great deal of overlap with MAGA, QAnon, and old-school conspiracy theory.Peter Stone at The Guardian:
A far-right project that has helped spread Donald Trump’s false claims about voting fraud in 2020, and misinformation about Covid vaccines, is trying to expand its mission, while facing new criticism from scholars and religious leaders about its incendiary political and Christian nationalist messages.
ReAwaken America, a project of Oklahoma-based entrepreneur Clay Clark, has hosted numerous revival-style political events across the US after receiving tens of thousands of dollars in initial funds in 2021 from millionaire Patrick Byrne, and become a key vehicle for pushing election denialism and falsehoods about Covid vaccines.
ReAwaken America also boasts close ties to retired Lt Gen Michael Flynn, who in December 2020 met with Trump, Byrne and others at the White House to plot ways to reverse Trump’s election loss. The meeting happened shortly after Trump pardoned Flynn, who was convicted for lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador prior to serving briefly as Trump’s national security adviser.
Clark’s project also has links to Dr Simone Gold, who served a 60-day jail sentence for illegally entering the Capitol on 6 January and founded America’s Frontline Doctors, an anti-vaccine group that has also touted bogus cures.
...Flynn and Gold have made multiple appearances at ReAwaken America events, and spoke this January at a two-day gathering hosted at the Tennessee church of rightwing pastor Greg Locke. It drew other Trump loyalists such as the My Pillow chief Mike Lindell, Eric Trump, Roger Stone and Kash Patel, all of whom have appeared at other ReAwaken meetings.
Locke has attended a few other ReAwaken events too, and earned notoriety for calling vaccines “sugar water”, the pandemic fake, and holding book burnings.
Besides hosting Gold at its meetings, the ReAwaken website serves as a resource for vaccine naysayers. It provides information about jobs where proof of vaccinations are not required, and how to “request a Covid vaccine religious exemption”.