Fascism has risen from the underworld and reared its ugly head all over the globe, including here, in the twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
On July 26th, dozens of protesters rallied outside the prime minister’s office following the announcement of two new policies that would in essence, force citizens of Antigua to get vaccinated against the novel covid-19 virus. This was the first public outcry of many to come.
Effective immediately, one policy states that all civil servants will have to get vaccinated or get tested twice a month at their own expense. The next policy would prevent people from attending bars, restaurants or any place of entertainment without providing proof of full vaccination starting August 1st. ( Of course, it wouldn’t be Antigua if tourists were subjected to the same discrimination. Tourists from highly infected places like the US, are welcome to our shores to dine, drink and play regardless of their vaccination status. )
These polices would officially divide our nation into a two tiered society— the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.
The unvaccinated would fall into the lower tier. People who are currently unvaccinated are being framed as “anti-vaxxers”, “conspiracy theorists”, selfish grandma killers, and science deniers.
Meanwhile people who are vaccinated are the compliant, obedient, dutiful, courageous, selfless citizens who have made the moral choice to become inoculated against this dangerously fatal virus.
A virus that has, in the last 18 months, claimed 43 lives here in Antigua and Barbuda. A dangerously fatal virus that has a 98% recovery rate.
Since the emergence of Covid-19, the novel corona virus does not effect everyone equally. One of the pieces of information that has remained consistent is that people 60 years of age and older are the most vulnerable when it comes to death or the experience of severe symptoms that would require hospitalization.
People with comorbidities, that is a person with two or more illnesses, were among those who were more vulnerable to the severe effects of Covid-19.
Obesity is also closely linked to the mortality rates of the novel corona virus. What we have seen globally are health and wellness issues rising to the surface. Instead of campaigns directed toward encouraging and incentivizing people to adopt healthier lifestyles, the vaccines are being promoted as the ONLY way that Covid-19 can be mitigated.
In fact, in many places such as Antigua and Barbuda, citizens are being coerced to take the vaccine or, else. Citizens are being forced to take the vaccine or they will be restricted from enjoying restaurants, bars or any kind of entertainment.
Antiguan people are being forced to take the vaccine or be tested twice monthly at their own expense. Many of our civil servants already collect meager wages. They make just enough money to keep their heads above water. These are the essential workers for whom our nation would be nothing without their labor.
The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda claims to be doing what is in the best interest of our nation.
However, these stringent new policies will only further deplete our already struggling economy and brew bitterness and disharmony amongst our people. Many of us already depressed and disoriented from 18 months of drastic changes to our everyday routine.
This is a dangerous combination that is quite contrary to what is best for Antigua and Barbuda. It could contribute to an uptick in violent crime. If such stringent policies are made against our civil servants, then testing should be free and accessible to all.
That is how we can ensure a safe working environment for our people. Charging people for mandatory testing is nothing short of nefarious and would lead anyone with wisdom to wonder if there is something more sinister at work.
Perhaps when Prime Minister Gaston Browne claimed that these policies were in the best interest of Antigua and Barbuda, he did not mean the people who work, live, attend school, play and operate this country. Perhaps what he meant was Antigua and Barbuda™ the tourism product.
The product that ensures that guests from wealthy nations are served, chauffered, and deluded to believe that they have arrived in a small island paradise.
A place where they can escape their brutally cold winters and bask in the land of sea and sun, while our own people are hustling and bustling so our children can have a warm meal, reliable wifi and electricity and some decent clothing. One man’s paradise is another man’s hell.
What will we do if more than half of our essential civil servants begin to not show up to work because they had to choose between feeding their family and paying for another Covid-19 test? Why are anti-bodies not sufficient enough to serve as immunity? A significant majority of people who got Covid, recovered just fine.
There is no covid-19 vaccine that prevents persons from getting the virus. Every fact sheet from every Covid-19 vaccine will make that clear. Vaccinated people can still contract and transmit the virus.
We are seeing more and more reports of so called “breakthrough cases” where fully vaccinated people are not only catching the virus, but they are also experiencing severe symptoms.
This is happening in Israel who currently has one of the most successful vaccination rates in the world where 58% of adults are fully vaccinated.
When the Prime Minister Gaston Browne takes to his Facebook page to make far fetched assertions like “the unvaccinated are trespassing on the health and safety of the vaccinated” what he is doing is illustrating those who are not vaccinated as an enemy of our greater good. This is not only false, but it is absolutely abhorrent.
What is happening is eerily similar to the stages of genocide. Dr. Gregory Stanton, notable for his research on genocide broke down the process of genocide into stages.
The first stage is classification which is defined by separating groups of people into categories to create a perception of “us” vs. “them”. In this case, the vaxxed vs the unvaxxed, where the unvaxxed are perceived to be the villain.
The second stage is symbolization, where symbols are used to distinguish the two groups from each other. In this case, it is the vaccine cards as proof that one is vaccinated and therefore, safe. We are at the third stage, discrimination. This is where denying the basic rights of the “enemy group” is enacted via law and policy.
Banning unvaccinated people from places of entertainment when we are essentially all at risk at any other setting is blatant discrimination. Subjecting healthy, working people to twice monthly tests is discriminatory.
We are so close to stage 4, dehumanization where unvaccinated persons risk being treated like second class citizens and compared to animals just like the Jews were in Nazi Germany. We are so close to projecting all of our frustration and blame on those who are choosing to trust their immune systems instead of taking an experimental drug.
Fascism is one of humanity’s greatest evils. We refuse to allow our beloved Antigua and Barbuda descend into a dark fascist regime. We will continue to stand up for our rights. We will continue to fortify the immune systems that God gave us to combat illness.
Medical tyranny has no place here. We have a right to refuse these vaccines regardless of the amount of vaccines we had to take as children. We have the right to assess our own risks and benefits in regards to the efficacy of these vaccines. We have a right to wait.
We have a right to say no. We cannot forcefully implement a one size fits all approach to treating this virus when it impacts everyone differently. Truth does not need to silence its naysayers. There is never a crisis so great that infringing on inalienable rights is justified.
-An angry, concerned, Antiguan citizen.