I’m on a roll right now, studying dystopian novels as I try to get a handle on what has happened in short order to the world that I used to know.
Next on my avid student’s reading list is revisiting George Orwell’s 1984. Of course, this masterpiece, consistently listed as one of the best 100 novels of the 20th century (and sometimes any century), is an extreme vision of a totalitarian state, but what interests me most about the novel at this moment is the so-called ‘Ministry of Truth.’
Patterned on the ‘Ministry of Information’ in Britain during World War II, it is anything but: it is, of course, the ministry of propaganda.
Overseeing the news media, entertainment, the fine arts and even educational books, the Ministry destroys countless documents by sending them down the ‘Memory Hole,’ but it also has the power to censor and rewrite the current narrative to fit the Party doctrine and maintain it in a positive light.
The content of the media, in particular, is always supportive of the Party.
It’s reminding me of today’s media because ‘truth,’ when it comes to most of today’s media, has become politicized, little more than political propaganda, with facts carefully selected or eliminated to fit the ‘truth’ supported by that media’s political bent – but most particularly by the government.
While newspapers have always had a political bias (Randolph Hearst famously bragged that he’d started the Spanish-American war), go back 50 years and you’ll see that the quality media was a bit more respectful of truth over politics.
Hence newspapers like the Washington Post and the New York Times, while solidly liberal in their outlook, were, in turns, both highly critical of Democratic President Lyndon Johnson for escalating the Vietnam war and later highly critical of Republican Richard Nixon for Watergate.
In those days, the media understood that truth does not have a political party.
Let’s compare that to what is going on today.
Up until now, I haven’t seen much from the major US or UK news media questioning the very basis of either government’s decisions about Covid-19 or the Covid-19 vaccine. There’s been plenty of column inches excoriating the Trump government over not doing enough to stop the spread of the virus or the UK government’s calamitous mess with track and trace apps, protective equipment, or nursing homes being filled with Covid-positive patients.
But when it comes to the deeper issues of this pandemic, any questioning of, much less investigation into, the very basics of the logic behind any decisions about lockdown, masks, vaccine passports, mandatory vaccine for entry, even the vaccine itself, is decidedly thin on the ground.
This week, in one of an interminable number of volte-faces, after assuring the public that it would never make Covid vaccination mandatory, the UK government announced its proposal that by September 30, young people will not be admitted to clubs and festivals unless they have been double-jabbed.
Furthermore, this same week, many countries in Europe, including the UK, announced that only those who are double vaccinated and show their passports can be admitted without having to quarantine. Italy has introduced a green pass so that you can’t even enter a restaurant without having had both shots.
The UK government is also considering making it mandatory that students be vaccinated before attending university or higher education. In the US, more than 400 universities and colleges mandate coronavirus vaccine.
The only complaints about it – mainly from Republicans – for instance, New Hampshire’s Republican governor Christ Sununu’s passage of a bill protecting New Hampshire residents from mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 in order to access public facilities, benefits or services – have been met with hysteria by the liberal press.
And I want to remind you that this is coming from me – a fully paid-up member of the liberal press.
A column in the Washington Post, decrying Sununu’s actions, said: ‘Sometimes there are hard calls in determining the appropriate level of intervention. The use of vaccine mandates to boost national coverage is not one of them. We’re a nation with vast piles of coronavirus vaccine doses that involve negligible heath risk to take, and that go unused for trivial, foolish reasons. Those people who currently refuse the vaccine (without health reasons), and those who encourage others to refuse the vaccine, are causing needless death (whatever their intention). (italics mine)
The problem all comes down to journalism that starts by taking as read certain assumptions, as our Washington Post journalist has done, particularly those given to it by government or industry, rather than starting with a clean slate and accepting as part of the job that every last fact spouted by those in charge has to be laboriously checked out.
Let me briefly unpack all these statements, particularly vis à vis young people, who essentially may be forced to get these vaccines if they want higher education or to have a social life.
And bear in mind that young people are not at any risk from Covid. Even governments agree that practically all young people are either asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms.
Covid vaccines are highly effective and very safe
This entirely brand-new, experimental gene-based technology (less a vaccine and more genetic manipulation) has never received full regulatory approval; we’re all essentially part of phase 3 trials and a giant experiment. The safety data we have is limited to short-term effects.
Is it safe? We don’t know yet whether the Covid vaccines have late-onset effects such as development of autoimmune diseases, cancer, neurological disorders and infertility – side effects that could affect young people for the rest of their lives.
In the UK, the Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has published reports showing that up to June 23, 2021, there were 1,007,353 adverse reactions to the UK, including seizures, paralysis, blindness, strokes, blood clots and acute cardiac events. The report includes 1,403 fatalities.
Let me remind you: there are only 65 million people in the UK, about 38 million of whom have been given both shots. This means that about 1 in every 38 people getting jabbed is also getting a side effect.
Now, those figures don’t come from some crazed conspiracy theorist. Those figures come from the main UK government agency regulating medicines.
These kinds of side-effect figures are replicated in the Europe and the US, where the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System has reported 11,405 deaths as well: https://www.openvaers.com/covid-data.
Do you read those figures anywhere? Is anyone reporting on them? Aren’t they important to know before anyone makes a decision about getting a vaccine?
As far as 20 year olds, there is increased evidence of dangerous, and even life-threatening effects in young people: blood clots and myocarditis have been reported specifically in young people; the risk of myocarditis appears to be 30-200 times the normal risk (Israel reports an incidence of 1 in 3000 to 1 in 6000), and this conditions carries a life-time risk of heart failure. Some vaccines carry the risk of a rare blood clotting disorder (vaccine induced immune thrombocytopenia).
Covid vaccines prevent spread of the virus.
There is NO evidence that the Covid-19 vaccines prevent infections with or transmission of the virus. That was never assessed in the clinical trials. All manufacturers of all vaccines state as much on the medical literature. Witness the fact that Britain’s health minister Sajid Javid, who’d had two jabs, still recently got Covid.
What the vaccines may do is lessen the chances of someone having serious reactions or dying from Covid. There is currently no data showing a duration of any protective effect from vaccination beyond three months.
I repeat: I am not against the vaccine for certain people with health conditions who are at risk of Covid. To cite just one example: one young employee in our company born with a heart condition who has serious reactions to ordinary flu got the vaccine, and we feel she made the right decision.
I believe (although there’s no solid evidence yet) that the vaccine probably has had a hand in the drastic lowering of deaths (but is not the sole factor), and anyone who wants it should be able to get it, so long as he or she is given full and truthful information so that they can make a true informed consent.
I hope you are getting the idea that truth, like decisions about vaccination or any means of ending a pandemic, is highly nuanced, reliant on data and a careful assessment of risk/benefits, and not just prejudice and certainly not governmental pronouncement. Nevertheless, at the moment, those like Robert Kennedy Jr, who are attempting to publish data like this, are being derided by such august publications as The New York Times as being part of the ‘Disinformation Dozen.’
The problem all comes down to journalism that starts by taking as read certain assumptions, as our Washington Post journalist has done, particularly those given to it by government or industry, rather than starting with a clean slate and taking as read that every last fact spouted by those in charge has to be laboriously checked out.
We all want to believe that politicians (particularly the ones we’ve voted for) have the answers, and that something will get us out of the hell that is Covid.
But the truth is usually messy, complex, inconvenient and uncomfortable, and difficult as it is, we need to hear it.
Because if we don’t, as soon as journalists assume that the government is telling us the truth, as soon as we’re afraid to examine the evidence behind political or medical decisions, that’s when our media simply becomes a mouthpiece of government, another Ministry of Truth, and that’s also when we’re all in pretty bad trouble.
And I suspect we’re already well on our way.
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