Thom Hartmann is a liberal talk radio host who I started listening to about a year ago. Recently he has had some people involved in the movie ‘Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe’ on his show. Thom has treated this as an issue worth exploring recently.
Dear Thom Hartmann,
My 10 year old niece had to go through chemo due to a rare immune disorder. It's so hard to watch a child battle serious illness. She cannot get vaccinated due to her illness. There are many like her. But, because everyone around her is vaccinated she can live. People like her are COUNTING on all of us to create a protective barrier. Every time theories like this gain legitimacy, (and, yes, that is what you are doing, Thom, giving this crackpot theory legitimacy), people like her, REAL PEOPLE are put at risk. You may be rational enough to speculate about this link while recognizing that it is best to still get vaccinated. But, you must know that many people are not that rational. And they put their peace of mind above the greater good.
It's a lot like the people who talk about theories of race and IQ under the guise of "just asking" --and "every question is worth exploring" -- but is it? Even asking questions can be a way of advancing an agenda. I suspect you know this so this is why I am so disappointed in you for doing this. It makes me question the liberal values that we share, or that I thought we shared. How can I count on any of the information that you have shared that I found valuable if it seems you are unable to distinguish valid lines of inquiry from those that lack enough credible evidence to warrant scaring people with "we don't know" and "maybes" ?
You have done such a good job tackling complex and difficult issues in the past that this is a real let down. (For example, you have talked about racism and the BLM movement with real patience and clarity, and I say that as a black woman living in the Bronx. There are very few white commentators who I trust to speak on that issue fully, even among liberals. Your strength is your willingness to listen even to marginalized voices, but I fear that strength is a weakness in the arena of science...)
I don't know if I can keep listening to the show and I feel embarrassed for recommending it to my friends. But, I see lots of critical comments on youtube and facebook from others like me and I hope that you are listening to all of us. This has all been very disturbing. I can't say that enough. Please reconsider. I would hate to see this movement continue to grow. I would hate to see more children getting sick. That result is a inevitable based on the relentless mathematics of epidemics and herd immunity. Don't we have enough to fight for without inventing new fears and doubts about the few things that work?
Lastly, you should SERIOUSLY consider talking to some Autistic people if you really want to explore this issue. (Maybe have someone with Autism on your show.) Another dimension of this movement is a tendency to cast Autism as catastrophic and terrifying, as the “worst thing that can happen.” You might be surprised to see how Autistic people see themselves and how they see the serious challenges and complexities of Autism. You see, this entire conversation is based on the premise that Autism is a terrifying and somehow new epidemic worse than the deadly plagues prevented by vaccines. Autism is a serious matter, but it is often stigmatized beyond the reality of the real challenges of Autistic lives. And this overblown fear of Autism is almost as repugnant to me and self-centered as the pseudo science driving this madness.
There is nothing more selfish than refusing to vaccinate a child because of what even the "vaccine truthers" will admit is, at most, a tiny risk based on unknowns of a "imperfect" child and, in doing so, putting everyone including some of the most vulnerable among us at risk. Essentially, the anti-vaxer’s “peace of mind” is more important than the health of all humanity.
What kind of liberal takes this seriously? Please, stop legitimizing these people.