Torches of Freedom, Vaccine Cards, and Our Civilian Lives

In March of 1929, a group of women hired by propagandist Edward Bernays, who had been retained by George Hill, president of the American Tobacco Company, the executive who sought “a gold mine right in our front yard,” marched in the Easter Sunday Parade smoking cigarettes, which had been elevated to the status of “Torches of Freedom.” Psychoanalyst AA Brill had coined the phrase to describe the nasty habit, theorizing that women innately desired to smoke, but were constrained by the social taboo against it and traditional feminine attitudes. Brill advised Bernays to take advantage of changing values and the psychodynamic phenomenon of “oral fixation.” The marketing campaign thus leveraged the first-wave feminist movement for profit, even recruiting feminist Ruth Hale to call on women to join in the march. “Women! Light another torch of freedom! Fight another sex taboo!”

A Torch of Freedom

When the first HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine became available in 2006, with the FDA approving Merck’s Gardasil, it was soon marketed with a stealth campaign of advancing the rights of girls and women, especially those from underdeveloped countries. In developed countries, surveillance measures, primarily the pap smear, had proven effective in reducing the morbidity and mortality of cervical cancer, which HPV is said to cause. Such measures are not widely available or affordable in underdeveloped countries. The vaccine was said to remedy that, although, as with the wearing of masks by the vaccinated in the COVID-19 pandemic, the failure of HPV vaccines to prevent cervical cancer comes with a recommendation to have routine pap smears anyway. More recently, marketing has targeted men and boys, who, while they cannot develop cancers associated with the female anatomy, are identified as carriers of HPV and urged to do their part for sake of girls and women. Moreover, some women’s groups working from the standpoint of sameness feminism, for example groups advocating for immigrant rights, have argued that mandating the the HPV vaccine for girls and women is sex discriminatory.

Beyond the question of efficacy, the HPV vaccine comes with safety concerns. There are side effects—or other effects as a close associate often reminds me to call them for the sake of accuracy. Although transnational corporate captured WHO denies it, Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS), a condition marked by sudden onset muscle weakness caused by peripheral nervous system damage provoking the immune system to attack the subject’s body, has appeared in a number of recipients of the vaccine and a statistically significant association has been found to exist between the vaccine and autoimmune diseases and central and peripheral neurological disorders.

There is a woman whose staunch progressive feminism stands at the core of her identity. Critical of conservative women expressing skepticism about the safety and need for the HPV vaccine, she was elated when the HPV vaccine became available for the daughter. One day, in a highly public manner, the mother announced her intention to vaccinate her daughter against HPV. Later, when she was away from the crowd, a man asked her if she had looked into the harm the vaccine was known to cause, especially GBS. He hesitated saying this, of course, because, what if, heaven forbid, something bad actually happened. But he felt he needed to say something since he had studied the issue and knew about the risk. Determined to go through with the symbolic gesture, she brushed off his concerns as trivial even if true. Within days of the jab, the girl was paralyzed.

The mother in the news story shared below had a different reaction when she learned that the vaccine had damaged her teenage daughter. She had no political-ideological motive to not wish she had this decision to do all over again. Listen closely to the way this local news station spins the information.

A Case of GBS

Did you note the line about how there was no cause for concern because Merck and the regulatory agencies Merck has captured found that Gardasil was no more likely to cause GBS than any other vaccine? Buried lede: all vaccines cause GBS. Authorities and the media have known this at least since the 1970s. In 1976, pharmaceutical corporations and governments around the world, including the US government, manufactured a swine flu epidemic. I’m not exaggerating. Despite the fact that there were no confirmed cases of swine flu anywhere on the planet outside of thirteen soldiers at Fort Dix, a US military facility in New Jersey (sound suspicious?), the government rolled out a massive vaccination program accompanied by an extensive propaganda campaign involving print and television media.  Millions of Americans were injected with the experimental swine flu vaccine.   

The consequence of the program: scores of people suffering vaccine injury, several hundred of them developing a sometimes lethal and always devastating paralytic condition called, you guessed it, GBS. Shamefaced, the government canceled the program. That was before they could count on mass desensitization of the other effects of vaccines. Since then, mainstream news organizations have run interference for vaccine manufacturers by dissimulating the link between the vaccines and GBS. However, as Dr. Meryl Nass, an expert on vaccines and bioterrorism, points out, at least ten separate studies of the 1976 swine flu vaccine have confirmed the link.

I covered this story more than a decade ago on Freedom and Reason in the blog Medical-Industrial Propaganda: The Swine Flu Pandemic of 1976. In that blog, I shared a national news story about the case. YouTube has removed it. In his prophetic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell called this technique the “memory hole,” which appears in the novel as a tube down which workers at the Ministry of Truth disappear news stories inconvenient to the Party. But, unlike the Party apparatus of Airstrip One, the Internet is full of holes. We don’t yet live in the People’s Republic of China. I kept the video in my archives. I have now posted it to Rumble so you can viddy it, my brothers.

The Swine Flu Epidemic of 1976

I have argued on Freedom and Reason that progressivism, despite its rhetoric of speaking truth to power, is the popular ideology and policy philosophy of corporate governance. It will come as no surprise to many of my readers, that corporations sell products that are unsafe and unnecessary. For the sake of profits, corporations manufacture needs and exaggerate problems to stimulate consumer desire for their products. Recognizing that the population is not monolithic, that insecurities, preferences, and worries (which advertisers in part engineer) are demographically variable, they differentially target groups with deft propaganda techniques tailored to particular anxieties, desires, and sentiments. It doesn’t matter if the danger a corporation markets is in the brand of cigarettes or a niche vaccine or a war, the goal is profit, and the same emotional and psychological manipulations are deployed with remarkable efficacy.

The FDA-approved Pfizer-BioNTech product, which will roll out under the name Comirnaty, a novel mRNA gene therapy sold as a vaccine alleged to prevent COVID-19 (which, I hope by now, readers know it doesn’t) will be marketed to individuals sixteen years of age and older. The Pfizer vaccine, along with Moderna (which just applied for full approval) and a couple of others, continues to enjoy emergency use authorization that shields it from any liability (Pfizer has been indemnified in dozens of countries around the world). The FDA approved Comirnaty based on early clinical trials which reported few other effects and more than 90 percent efficacy. The real world experience with these vaccines finds people experiencing Bell’s palsy, clotting blood, Grave’s disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome, myocarditis, pericarditis, and even death, while data from Israel can’t get the Pfizer vaccine to 40 percent efficacy. (See The Official Vaccine Narrative Completely Falls Apart; A Pandemic of the Vaccinated.)

Especially disturbing in all of this is the marketing to teenagers and young adults, particularly males, who are at special risk for cardiac diseases (myocarditis and pericarditis) that have life-long consequences. More than marketing. There are now mandates. Mandatory vaccination of the U.S. military will begin ‘immediately,’ the defense secretary says, yesterday’s New York Times reported. There are 1.5 million active duty military personnel. The majority of them are young men.

According to a study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, according to a real-world case-control nation-wide study from Israel (the country in which authorities determined less than 40 percent efficacy for Pfizer in preventing infection and only a little greater than efficacy in preventing COVID-19 disease), the Pfizer mRNA vaccine was found to be associated with a threefold increased risk of myocarditis. The media will want to tell you that those who contract COVID-19 are also at risk for myocarditis. But the authors of the study caution readers not to make that comparison.

“The effects of vaccination and of SARS-CoV-2 infection were estimated with different cohorts,” the authors write, emphasizing that “they should be treated as separate sets of results.” The researchers find that the “good safety profile” the FDA used to approve the Pfizer vaccine was found in preapproval trials (approval via emergency use authorization). This is not the case with real-world data. Young men are particularly vulnerable to heart disease associated with this vaccine, disease that has life long consequences. The reason for this is that the spike protein the mRNA vaccine teaches the cells to produce causes inflammation of tissues throughout the body. The heart muscle and lining (as well as the lungs) is especially subject to disease with downregulation of ACE2 receptor associated with the S spike protein. This is associated with the site of action namely the ACE2 receptor. ACE2 receptors are greater in number in males than females because of testosterone. (For the record, I told you this would happen on Freedom and Reason). And who knows what the effects will be on younger children.

Yet I can see the progressive father and son, likely at the son’s urging, noisily marching to the physician’s office where the son will receive the jab for the “good of the community.” I can see the obnoxious Facebook statuses, the images of young men getting jabbed or showing off their bandaids encircled by a colorful virtue-signaling ribbon, “I’m doing my part!” Big Pharma has colonized territory deep in the progressive mind establishing vaccination as the public face of ritual action of devotion to scientism. The vaccine hesitant and skeptic are secular heretics and infidels. Authoritarianism and fear deliver even more to Big Pharma (the Associated Press reports “Half of US workers favor employee shot mandate: AP-NORC poll”).

“I’m doing my part!”

Ever seen the mock advertisements in the 1997 film Starship Troopers, Paul Verhoeven’s adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s shoutout to fascism? “I’m doing my part!” Heinlein appears to dig authoritarianism, but Verhoeven satirizes fascism in spectacular propaganda displays. Central to the politics of the book and movie is the differentiation between citizen and civilian. Citizenship is earned. People who join the Federal Service and honorably discharged are given the franchise, which bestows upon them privileges civilians so not enjoy. John Rico explains: “The difference lies in the field of civic virtue. A citizen accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic, of which he is a member.” You know, like the virtue of getting jabbed and the privilege that comes with showing one’s vaccine passports. Internalizing authoritarianism comes with pride in having to justify your reason for being (anywhere, eventually). Did I mention that Starship Troopers is about fascism?

* * *

CNN is sad because Saint Fauci’s Big Pharma-serving narrative (at around 20 bucks and rising a pop, and masks everywhere, all fed by fear, the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to very profitable) threatens to harm the chances of progressives in the mid-term elections. At least analyst Stephen Collinson is sad. The headline to his “analysis” tells us all about it: Fauci’s new 2022 timeline for Covid fight could be a political disaster for Biden and Democrat. Here’s a taste: “If the emergency does go on that long [through 2022],” he writes, “it will offer an opening for Republicans who are seeking to brand Biden’s presidency as a failure—and who are seizing on his chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan to paint a broader narrative of political decay.” The disastrous presidency of Joe Biden is a partisan construction, a “branding” and a “painting,” Republican propaganda that gives the dreaded Orange Man a chance to reclaim the White House.

This anxiety, a reflection of the absurdity of rank-and-file progressivism, is part of what lies behind the urgency of vaccine mandates. The true believers, their faith in the CDC and the FDA at religious fervor intensity, are all in on scientism’s miracles. They can save 2022, they believe, if they make the virus go away. “I’m doing my part!” But Fauci knows that vaccines won’t stop the virus. He has headed an agency for decades that never believed they could eradicate the flu—or any other RNA virus—with vaccines. Coronaviruses have always been with us. They will always be with us. The best way to deal with a perennial virus is to facilitate its evolution into a less-serious pathogen by building actual herd immunity (by letting younger people get it, for example) and reconcile ourselves to the fact that some years will be worse than others. But the best way for stakeholders is not the best way for shareholders.

The power of propaganda lies in portraying the ordinary and normal as extraordinary and abnormal. To be sure, SARS-CoV-2 came out of the gate impressively, killing an unusually large proportion of the elderly and morbidly obese it encountered. That is was less impressive among everybody else was obscured by lumping everybody into the same risk category and then showing the public the horrors of case-fatality rates, punctuated with sheet-draped corpses, slit trench graves, and exhausted and distraught nurses and physicians. They turned everybody into potential disease vectors via mask mandates. Now they are doing the same with vaccines. They deranged the social order by quarantining the healthy. The moral panic was replete with rampant war metaphors (Some Virus Did Something).

* * *

I have blogged a lot on the COVID-19 pandemic. I have decided to index these blogs here (except for what I cited in the present entry). This is not an exhaustive list nor is the list annotated. I used Google to search for entries, and Google has not been kind to my blog (albeit, it is not as bad as Facebook). I may update this post with more links and annotation. Quite a few blogs contain discussion of the pandemic but are mainly about other things. I have decided not to include these for now.

The first blogs were in late March 2020, as the pandemic saw school closures, including the institution where I teach. Here’s three in a row: Viruses, Agendas, and Moral Panics; Populist and Secular Humanist in the Face of a Virus; When a Virus Goes Viral

The months of April and May 2020 saw the most blog activity with respect to the pandemic. My first entry for April was Some Virus Did Something (see above). Here are others: COVID-19 and Chronic Stress Response; A Different Way to Lie: Selective Generalization in the COVID-19 Hysteria; We Should Stop Citing the Case-Lethality Rate for COVID-19—or Start Using it for Influenza; Future Containment of COVID-19: Have Authorities Done the Right Thing?; On the Pains of Testing and Contact Tracing. It’s Worse than Folly; The Relative Scale of Stupidity: The Scientific-Industrial Complex; The Wokescolds Have Lost Their Claim on Science April 2020 “You Have No Other Choice, You Must Go On.”; The Wuhan Virus, the Chinese Communist Party, and its Menagerie of Useful Idiots; When One’s Bubble Starts Collapsing: The Psychological Unwinding of a Moral Panic; Life is Risky. Freedom is Precious.

For May: Priming for Control: How Mass Psychology is Used to Transform Lifeworlds; The New Equity Principle: Healthy People Must Forfeit Their Dreams and Freedoms for the Sake of the Infirm; What Lies Behind the Mask? Technocratic Desire; Who’s Safer?; About that May 22, 2020 Lancet Article on the Efficacy and Safety of Hydroxychloroquine; Dr. Erickson Downplays the Threat of COVID-19. The Pro-Panic Crowd Turns on the Fog Machine; Science and Conspiracy: COVID-19 and the New Religion; More on the Unreasonableness of the COVID-19 Hysteria; Hunkering Down for No Reason; What’s the Big Deal With Wearing a Mask? Lots; How Deaths are Classified, Good and Bad Comparisons, and Other COVID-19 Insanity.

For other months in 2020, see Please, No Good News; We’re Trying to Have Hysteria Here (July) Panic and Paranoia Deaden Humanity and Sabotage Its Future (July) Mask or No Mask? (July) The Enduring Panic Over SARS-CoV-2 (August) The Problem of Critical Race Theory in Epidemiology: An Illustration (October) Determining the Current Aggregate Risk of Dying from COVID-19 (November). In this period, I focused on the riots in American streets and the color revolution to unseat Donald Trump and derail the populist movement against progressivism and transnationalism. The virus had waned. Moreover, I was on sabbatical, so my attention was on the subject of prisons and rehabilitation.

So far this year, I have penned several entries The Scientism of Getting Jabbed (January); Where Are We on this COVID-19 Deal? (February); On the Ethics of Compulsory Vaccination (February); The New Blasphemy—Why is it Such a Big Deal? (March); “Whatever that number is”: Vaccine Hesitancy, Common Sense, and Stigmatizing Christians (May); A Moral Panic. A Year Later (May); COVID-19 and Confronting America’s Racist Past (June); Crime and Viruses (June); Anthony Fauci’s Noble Lying (July); Will the Vaccinated Do the Right Thing and Mask Up or Stay Home? (August); Somehow, a Bill of Rights got Locked into the Constitution (August). Two recent blogs in August appear above. The ethics of vaccine mandates have spurred me to write more about the pandemic. Requirements to be vaccinated or routinely tested have caused me to put my college courses online. Now what I want, but I was left with no other choice.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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