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T-cell Party Patriots

May 8th, 2010 · 6 Comments · Miseducation, Serious overreach

Is the anti-vaccine movement looking to Sarah Palin’s Tea Party Nation for inspiration? It seems that way, given that Generation Rescue is calling its May 26 rally in Chicago’s Grant Park “An American Rally for Personal Rights”. In just two years, the movement has gone from Green Our Vaccines to “What Would Thomas Jefferson Do?”

It will be two years next month since McCarthy led her angry mob of 2,500 parents and children through Washington D.C., under the focus-group tested “Green Our Vaccines” banner.  The slogan played on parental anxiety over their children’s diets, the quality of the natural environment, and all the unknowns that come with modernity.  A Green Vaccine was supposedly a safe vaccine, something you might find in Whole Foods, wrapped in hemp fiber and chilling next to the organic arugula.

But Green Vaccines have a short shelf life. Mean scientists attacked her for alleging, among other things, that vaccines contain anti-freeze and ether. They don’t, and never have. Layer by layer her arguments peeled away, revealing a silly marketing slogan unrelated to the physical world. That is as it should be, since the question of vaccine safety is best left to science, and the science was never on McCarthy’s side to begin with.

So the angry mob that will converge on Grant Park in two weeks is switching to plan B – it’s about the constitution, stupid. Welcome to T-Cell Party Nation. The tree of libery must be watered with the chelated blood of children. All that’s missing are the tri-corner hats and sidearms.

Of course I may be giving McCarthy too much credit. Vaccine rejectionism is a big tent movement, encompassing a diverse range of human wiring and predilections. Consistency has never been a problem, despite McCarthy’s efforts to create a brand.

“I think they just throw everything they’ve got and see where any of it sticks,” says Arthur Allen, author of Vaccines, a must-read history of vaccine rejectionism.

Anti-vaccine conclaves, says Allen, “have always been a mishmash of libertarians, health nuts and quack medicine vendors, conspiracy theorists, ambulance chasers, ‘investigative’ journalists, advocates of the theory of harm du jour, and, always, a few scientists – who range from the disbarred quack to the clueless semi-mainstream specialist.” In other words, the same angry mob that puzzled our great-grandparents at the turn of the last century. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

These are dark days for McCarthy. Andrew Wakefield, the movement’s eminence gris, has been found guilty of ethical misconduct and may be stripped of his medical license next month. The nation’s major news and entertainment media, including the Chicago Tribune, WBCH’s Frontline, and even Showtime’s Penn and Teller are wise to the danger posed by vaccine rejectionism. What started as an emotional argument ten years ago by a minority of poorly-informed parents has curdled into a national punchline.

Cheap populism and worn patriotic slogans will not turn McCarthy’s PR disaster around. To rescue her foundering movement, she will have to admit she has a problem, submit to reality, and make amends to the medical community she has slandered for too long.

McCarthy has no business recovering children if she can’t first recover herself.

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Eddie Jenner // May 17, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey have been reduced to picking up strangers in order to get in the news and hurt each other.

    Maybe the whole vaccine rally is a chance for them to scope out some new prospects?

    Check out Jenny McCarthy’s interview for Frontline. She admits “there is no such thing as a green vaccine”. It was all marketing just as you point out.

  • 2 Sullivan // May 18, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    I liked this–but your Huffington Post piece is even better–the “vaccine gestapo” song is priceless.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-reibel/t-cell-party-patriots_b_580195.html

  • 3 Ted // May 26, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    As a father of a six year old autistic child I find this article offensive and ignorant. Our son was a vibrant two year old before the MMR and flu vaccines that our doctor “persueded” us into giving him. He immediately lost his language, stopped pointing to request items and generally withdrew into himself.

    Four years later and after hundreds of hours of therapy, thousands of dollars in medications (not covered by any insurance mind you) our son communicates like a two year old. There are days when he is lucid and we feel like we have our little boy back, but those days are eclipsed by the multitude of days where he regresses back to gibberish.

    It does not suprise me in the least that the major drug companies have spent as much time and effort in discrediting Dr. Wakefield. If the tabacco companies got slapped with lawsuits imagine the damages we would seek if (I say when) it is revealed that THEY were wrong.

    The parents of autistic children are not looking for a handout or a free ride. We are simply looking for answers to what has happened to our children. Why waste time trying discredit Ms. McCarthy for standing up and speaking about what she feels to be true? If we spent the same amount of time, energy and rescourses looking at vaccines and autism / mitochondrial disorders as we did looking for weapons of mass distruction (and let’s face it, some of you reading this think it’s just as big of a wild goose chase but you fell for it) then we may be further along in finding a remedy forbtjis tragic disorder.

  • 4 Janet Smith // May 30, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    ” Ted // May 26, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    As a father of a six year old autistic child I find this article offensive and ignorant.”

    Don’t blame you for feeling that way. It amazes me how many examples can be shown that duplicate your exact experience of your boy changing dramatically RIGHT AFTER his shot(s), yet pro-vaxxers seem to think the parents of these children should ‘get over it’ and keep injecting their kids with live virus, mercury, etc, etc.

    This is monster medicine and the folks pushing it aren’t any better than that group of elitists who ran things the way they did in Germany during the 40’s.

  • 5 AutismNewsBeat // May 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Which live virus vaccine concerns you?

  • 6 Concerned // Aug 25, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Oh dear – an anonymous commenter who claims to have an autistic child is offended when the real parent of a real autistic child has a well-supported opinion.

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