There are a number of weighty issues the nation needs to engage in as a war rages in Eastern Europe, medical professionals forecast a sharp increase in COVID cases this fall and into the winter, and a report that there are almost 2 open jobs waiting to be filled for every person who is employed in the nation.
Those three topics are but a sampling of what a working member of congress could be preoccupied with any hour of the day, any day of the week.
So it was most alarming to read this past week that Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson found the time to saddle alongside Todd Callender, who is a wild-eyed anti-vaccination zealot. That is a charitable characterization on my part.
During the bizarre teleconference campaign event for Johnson, Callender linked COVID vaccines as causing AIDS.
“You’ve got more than 100 doctors here, all of whom will tell you that these shots caused vaccine-induced AIDS. They purposefully gave people AIDS”.
Now, before I go one sentence further I must address in a factual way this absolute lie. Having been employed by Madison’s AIDS Network in 2003, in part to fashion the start of a program for medication adherence, I know how vital facts are to this disease. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and is not caused by vaccines. Furthermore, AIDS is the third stage of HIV and when AIDS occurs, the immune system has been severely damaged. PERIOD.
I also know the need for science to be respected, medical professionals heeded, and how tremendously effective medications are for ones in need, regardless of the disease up for discussion. So it was very concerning to read that once again Johnson was attempting to smear a vaccine that is proving worldwide to be a significant change-maker.
What was shocking and utterly dismaying was how Johnson gave wiggle room and oxygen to Callender’s crazy notion that maybe the coronavirus vaccines are a means of deliberately transmitting AIDS. In the video conference not once does Johnson fight back in any way on the idea that vaccines caused AIDS.
The video shows that Johnson says, “Everything you say may be true, but right now the public views the vaccines as largely safe and effective, that vaccine injuries are rare and mild. That is the narrative. That’s what the vast majority of the public accepts. So until we get a larger percentage of the population with their eyes open, to: Whoa, these vaccine injuries are real. Why? You’ve got to do step by step.”
I felt we knew Johnson’s full lack of appreciation for science when in 2010 he announced that “I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change”. He added, “It’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time.”
During the COVID pandemic, however, we have been treated to Johnson’s absolute rejection of science with wildly ridiculous statements over and over again, such as suggesting that mouthwash would cure the problem.
He was not shy about suggesting that it was acceptable to lose between 1% and 3 % of the American population so to keep the economy in the nation pushing forward. That would be upwards of 3 million of our fellow citizens dying.
“….getting coronavirus is not a death sentence except for maybe no more than 3.4 percent of our population”.
Acting with callous disregard for the citizens of the state is one thing, as with the above statement, but being a part of the spreading of absolute lies about the public vaccines in relation to AIDS requires more than moving on to the next campaign event.
It requires a full-throated and sincere apology from Ron Johnson to Wisconsin.
The vaccines have proven to be highly effective in reducing deaths and hospitalizations and it is unacceptable for a United State Senator to in any way be a party to the spreading of lies about such a life-saving measure.
Yes, Johnson is in election mode, but that does not negate his responsibility to put health care facts above whatever demographic within the Republican Party he was playing to with Callender.
It is true that many of Johnson’s past statements lacked empathy, and were just weird. But being party to the spreading of groundless and dangerous lies about the vaccine is a step into a moral hole Johnson needs to apologize for now.
And so it goes.