Op-Ed in The Week: Vaccine exemptions are a necessary part of religious toleration
Note: Matthew Walther wrote this op-ed in The Week. Matthew Walther is a national correspondent at The Week. His work has also appeared in First Things, The Spectator of London, The Catholic Herald, National Review, and other publications. He is currently writing a biography of the Rev. Montague Summers. He is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellow.
Likely to be lost amid all the liberal preening about the mandatory vaccination bill signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week is the fact that, during the period covered by the so-called "epidemic," not a single person has died from a confirmed case of measles in the state of New York. The sun and moon have not dropped from the sky and the red-splotched corpses of thousands of victims do not litter the streets of Brooklyn.
Nor are they likely to do so. Everyone involved knows this. The new law is legislation of the very worst kind — passed in a fit of self-aggrandizing indignation and meant to affect a single group of people who are all but named. I am referring to the minority of Orthodox Jews in New York who have refused to vaccinate their children and whose objections were, until last week, granted specific legal protection. This is not a question of so-called "association" or "public accommodations." No one is demanding the right to send unvaccinated children to public schools, nor are the post-faith bobos of today's Williamsburg likely to send their own children, if they have any, to receive an Orthodox education. The new law is about power and control for their own sake.
Let me be clear at the outset. I am a father of three small children, all of whom have received measles and other vaccinations. I do not oppose the consensus such as it is about the necessity of all these shots, though I do find it absurd that in many of our hospitals they begin before a mother has so much as nursed her child for the first time. I could quibble by pointing out that when I was a child in the not-so-distant 1990s we got less than half the number of vaccinations said to be the sole bulwark against various public health emergencies today — what was so wrong with getting the chicken pox, I wonder? — or that my daughters who were both born in Virginia were required to receive many more shots than their brother has in Michigan. Could it be that we have defined "necessary" in this context down the way we have virtually everything else? But this is irrelevant to my real argument.
I do not share or even quite understand the objections made by those Orthodox who refuse to have their children vaccinated against measles and other diseases. The content of these objections is of very little interest to me because I am not Jewish. But I do believe in religious toleration — the rather antique notion that one can freely confess the falsehood of a sect or a doctrine while believing that its blameless adherents ought to be allowed to do as they wish.
It is odd to me, too, that so few have discussed the way in which the coverage of measles cases in New York makes effortless use of tropes about Jews as somehow unclean or contaminated and thus requiring a mandatory purification by the authorities. This is not the first time that black hats and long beards have become outward signifiers of an unspeakable interior pollution. Read more at The Week.
@pogo and @cia thank you for the fascinating history .
@Laura you are amazing and I thank you for your advocacy. But all of us have a different point that wakes us up. While it makes sense to point out possible trojan hotse misstatements accepting the truth about vaccines is a journey. I welcome anyone who opens the door to realizing rhere are valid reasons to exempt. It is a chink in the wall and that’s why we will see this guy —as we saw Marianne Williamson and Buttigieg —soon labeled antivaxxer and dismissed. I thought he made original points that might persuade some and to me that is something we need—people on the outskirts who convince others. We need to allow a middle ground for those just waking up. We can gently ask questions but if they get attacked from both sides they will go back to lemmingsville.
Then again your bs detector is very good and maybe this is a Trojan horse faux piece? And I am desperately looking for rhe one magic angle that will convince.
Posted by: Anita | June 21, 2019 at 04:22 PM
Hans if they buy all the shares in Merck(I can dream) then sink it, that would be the way to go,destruction from within as they do have done to humanity and our kids.
Pharma For Prison
Posted by: Angus Files | June 20, 2019 at 08:45 AM
No one is demanding the right to send unvaccinated children to public schools..
If vaccines actually prevented the diseases that they've been credited with preventing, what difference should this even make?
Posted by: Barry | June 20, 2019 at 06:40 AM
I am fighting Pharma Harma for free - no one is paying me !
Posted by: Hans Litten | June 20, 2019 at 04:19 AM
Vaccines and money have no religion, creed, class or colour ,we know but why are the Orthodox community being singled out as the article states.I see that some orthodox groups are anti Israel is that why they are to be singled out. not being Jewish I wouldn`t know.It looks a bit like a story to take our eye of the real ball which is fascism and vaccines for all,and the more vulnerable the person is the better.The orthodox community need protection as we all do from the licensed to kill pharma killers.
Pharma For Priosn
Posted by: Angus Files | June 19, 2019 at 04:51 PM
Walther is oblivious to the many millions of Americans of many religious stripes who reject and condemn vaccines and their vast carnage upon us; it is NOT just Orthodox Jews of New York.
For instance the world-wide United Methodist Church took a stand more than a decade ago, alerting its members about the terrible toxicity of ethylmercury in vaccines, and revealed the lies of the U,S. CDC. As far as I know it is the only major religious entity that has done so,
This piece is insidiously misleading, as it pretends vaccines pose no dangers. Got news for you Walther: 1 in 40 American kids now have autism (via U.S. census surveys). With 4 million babies born each year in the U.S. Thus we have 100,000 new autism victims EACH YEAR, with 2 million more babies each year incurring serious lifelong disabilities as vaccine mandates ever expand.
Why don't you write about this carnage, Walther?
Posted by: david m burd | June 19, 2019 at 03:41 PM
I agree with Walter that our new anti-Semitism is playing a role in these issues, creating images of Jews as unclean etc. It is appalling, and I hope that Americans will wake up. I hope the same about all nationalities, but without much hope. The cartoons in the New York Times a couple of months ago were completely unacceptable in any civilized society.
But why does Walter say that no one is asking to send unvaccinated children to public school? For decades those of us who did not want to damage our children any further with vaccines, or those starting out with undamaged children, not wishing to see them so damaged, could send them to public school with an exemption. My daughter went through public school K-12, just graduating last month, with an exemption. As he says, no one has died of measles in this New York outbreak, nor are they likely to do so. No rash-covered bodies piling up in the streets. So if he understands that much, why does he apparently not understand why hundreds of thousands of parents wish both to maintain the right to accept or refuse any vaccine and ALSO send them to public schools? We got a note ONCE saying that there had been a couple of cases of pertussis in the public schools here, and if it seemed prudent, my daughter might have to not go to school for a while, as she had not had a pertussis vaccine since 18 months old, when it erased her only words and she was diagnosed with autism two months later? And then nothing else transpired. We got no further notices and my daughter was never kept out of school because of any outbreak of anything.
He is also wrong about this being only about power and control for their own sake, and I'm surprised that someone as intelligent as he seems to be unaware that this is about $$$$$$$$ for the vaccine companies, the stealth government of the US.
Posted by: cia parker | June 19, 2019 at 12:30 PM
Further to my last post, I should also mention, that due to suffering less mortality from the ravages of the plague and other epidemics due to observance of there traditions , Jews were often persecuted for being more healthy. History is repeating itself.
Perceived Jewish immunity
Posted by: Pogo | June 19, 2019 at 10:28 AM
Think it important to keep separate ‘belief’ (accepting something without proof) and cultural ‘knowledge’ developed over generations by trial and error. Bit like how science advances – insomuch as the results need to reproducible. An’ when they are - adopt the practice as the norm.
When I was a kid, I was watching my father eviscerate one of our home grown chickens. A very smelly and messy procedure to say the least. Chickens are well known for carrying salmonella and he was take pains to make me aware of the need not to spread salmonella bugs all over the place. Which meandered on to, keeping cooked and raw meat separate in the larder and so on.
Maybe because he grew up in a part of London with a lager Jewish community, he passed on to me what he had learnt about hygiene from his Jewish friends. This note, was back before the First World War and much London still hadn’t completed its mains water and sewage systems, there was a isolation hospital in every district and scarlet fever was the main worry of many a parent. As the Jews seemed to fair better health-wise, my father took the pragmatic view that they must be doing something right!
“For instance, Jewish law compels one to wash his or her hands many times throughout the day. In the general medieval world a person could go half his or her life without ever washing his hands. According to Jewish law, one could not eat food without washing one’s hands, leaving the bathroom and after any sort of intimate human contact. At least once a week, a Jew bathed for the Sabbath. Furthermore, Jewish law prevents the Jew from reciting blessings and saying prayers by an open pit at latrines and at places with a foul odor. The sanitary conditions in the Jewish neighborhood, primitive as it may be by today’s standards, was always far superior to the general sanitary conditions.”
They have thousands of years of history on their side, long before Ignaz Semmelweis’s futile attempts to get doctors to wash their hands between examining patents. On a tangent: This is something that present day hospital house doctors and other clinical staff now neglect doing -and I have spent a lot of time in hospitals to see it not being done.
I was at first at a bit of a loss to find a reference to houses (bricks and mortar) getting the pox until I remembered this was a conversation about buildings erected before a ‘damp-proofing’ course was laid above the ground level of walls to discourage rising damp which encourages both wet and dry rot. The Jews knew way-back, that this had to be cut out as soon as it was discovered to stop it spreading quickly and had laws to ensure it was done effectively.
At the moment I can’t bring my self to believe (accept without scientific proof) anything coming from the people who refuse to openly debate this other issues.
Reminds me of a quote:
“Reply when questioned on the safety of the polio vaccine he developed:
It is safe, and you can't get safer than safe.” ― Jonas Salk
Posted by: Pogo | June 19, 2019 at 09:47 AM
I found this to be a bizarre article which began with two major inaccuracies:
1. “No one is demanding the right to send unvaccinated children to public schools,...”. As a matter of fact, many of us are, and all of us should be.
2. “The new law is legislation of the very worst kind — passed in a fit of self-aggrandizing indignation and meant to affect a single group of people...”. Wrong again. This law affects, and purposefully so, people from many groups, and as a matter of fact, it affects us all as it violates the US Constitution, parental rights, religious freedom, the ethical practice of medicine, and the fundamental human right to decide what one allows, or doesn’t allow, into oneself and one’s children.
Additionally, should the author read this, the law has nothing to do with public health. Rather, it is about fascist control over the entire populace, not over one particular group. It is about power and profits, it is Pharma initiated and funded, and such laws are resulting in the decimation of our children, our liberty, our schools, our citizenry, and our nation.
The glaring and misleading inaccuracies, plus the fact that the author is terribly uninformed about the dangers, inefficacies, and lack of need for vaccines, not to mention the corruption that underlies them from manufacture to mandate and beyond, much to the grave detriment of his 3 children, makes this an article I will not be sharing.
I find even the title offensive, with the word “toleration” chosen over “freedom”. Not sure why this article is being promoted and given airtime on AoA.
Posted by: Laura Hayes | June 19, 2019 at 09:18 AM
Unfortunately .. but quite predictable .. the media inspired hysteria over a "measles outbreak" has created a faux "crisis" .. supposedly caused by parents resisting vaccinating their child .. which immediately was seized by the usual suspects .. public health bureaucracies, self-serving politicians, vaccine industry .. as THEIR "opportunity" to eliminate parental right to seek a "religious exemption" from vaccines.
Not surprisingly .. the elimination of religious exemptions applies to ALL VACCINES .. not just the MMR .. so a child attending a public school or day care center must now "catch up" on every vaccine they may have so far avoided .. including HEP B .. which has absolutely NOTHING to do with protecting children from "dangerous highly communicable diseases" as the HEP B is a disease that is NOT HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS .. except for those who engage in behaviors where HEP B is socially/casually transmitted through high-risk exposures .. including purely accidental exposures .. that a vast majority of children will not likely suffer.
As the man said .. "Never let a good crisis go to waste" .. use it as an "opportunity" instead.
Using that very same advice myself .. I pray that someone will investigate and carefully monitor this new "catch up crisis" and use it as an "opportunity" to publicly report ALL adverse events to the "catch up" vaccines that THOUSANDS of children will be receiving as THEIR PRICE TO ATTEND PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND DAY CARE. Should ANY small number of these "catch up" children become VICTIMS of serious adverse reactions resulting in life-threatening, life-long chronic autoimmune disorders .. including death or paralysis .. PERHAPS THEY WILL SERVE AS THE IMPETUS TO GAIN BI-PARTISAN POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR BADLY NEEDED OVERSIGHT AND MONITORING OF VACCINE SAFETY TO FINALY PROVE VACCINES ARE NOT AS SAFE AND EFFECTIVE AS PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS AND POLITCIANS INSIST THEY ARE
Posted by: Bob Moffit | June 19, 2019 at 06:57 AM