According to a new poll, those most cautious about the risk of catching COVID-19 – the vaccinated – are also the most likely to support initiating war between Russia and the United States. Mary Harrington at UnHerd takes a closer look.
It wasn’t a big sample, but the results were stark. Ekos Politics polled a random sample of around 1,000 Canadians, and stratified the results by vaccination status. This revealed that whereas 56% of unvaccinated Canadians oppose the idea of NATO imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, an even greater number of the triple-vaccinated – 59% – support doing so.
On the face of it this makes no sense. Why would the most Covid risk-averse be the most enthusiastic about a policy that would, as 79 foreign policy experts from across America’s political spectrum put it in an open letter recently, “would mean going to war with Russia”? Well, if you hold (as I do) that humans are not actually very rational, it’s possible that what is in evidence here is less a lack of understanding impeding rational choice than a further iteration in the tribal clustering of political alignments.
Vaccination has been acutely politicised in Canada, where non-compliance has been rewarded with punitive measures such as restrictions on travel and shopping and additional taxes. In turn, vaxx refusal has begun to coalesce with other forms of political dissent, culminating in the Canadian truckers’ protest, supported by many whose grievances reached well beyond vaccination mandates. In this wider context, being triple-vaccinated has wider resonances than healthcare; it’s also a crude proxy for ideological alignment.
Humans have probably always clustered by belief, to an extent. But it’s been evident since at least 2016 that social media greatly accelerates the intensity of this dynamic by unmooring it from material life. I can’t very well ‘cancel’ my local butcher if we disagree about vaccines or Ukraine, at least not if I want to buy a steak off him tomorrow. But if I do my grocery shopping online, I can demonise and expel to my heart’s content.
The obvious link between being unvaccinated and opposing war against Russia is that they are both the opposite of the narrative being pushed by much of the media – though a difference is that Western governments are themselves currently opposed to escalating the conflict with Russia. But the differences also extend to measures Western Governments do endorse, with the unvaccinated being much more sceptical of sanctions and more supportive of the invasion itself, as shown below.
Is it a case, as Mary suggests, of thinking the opposite of what Government and the media are saying?
Worth reading in full.