“Vaccine Passports” and the Holocaust: An Invalid Comparison?

COLUMN

by Thomas L. Knapp

On March 29, the Libertarian Party of Kentucky issued a tweet that aroused considerable controversy (not least among partisan Libertarians themselves):

“Are the vaccine passports going to be yellow, shaped like a star, and sewn on our clothes?”

Kentucky governor Andy Beshear called the tweet “shameful” and implied it was “anti-Semitic.”

Rabbi Shlomo Litvin called the comparison “morally wrong,” but treated it, kindly, as part of a widespread habit of “using Holocaust comparisons to make literally any political point you want to make.”

Was the tweet over the top? Well, maybe.

Was the tweet anti-Semitic? Ask the Jewish protesters in Israel who equate that country’s vaccine passport scheme not only with the yellow Star of David badges forced on Jews by the Nazis, but with  death camp prisoner tattoos.

Was the comparison valid? To at least some degree, yes.

Early on, the Nazis used a “public health” excuse for their targeting of Jews and the imposition of the patches. Jews, they said, spread typhus, and needed to be identified so that others could avoid them and stay healthy.

Yes, that supposed “public health” concern was completely false.

But the notion that COVID-19 represents a permanent, existential threat to humanity, that we can never return to “normal” again, and that those who choose not to get vaccinated represent a significant danger to those who choose to get vaccinated is completely false, too.

Novel viruses hit humankind hard occasionally, then recede as we learn to treat them and vaccinate for them, and as they weaken through mutation. No sane society completely remakes itself around them.

Supporters of vaccine passports tout them as a way to “allow” us to do things such as attend concerts and sporting events.

We’ve never needed health-based government permission to do those things before, and there’s no compelling argument that we should be required to seek such permission in the future.

Vaccine passports aren’t needed to “allow” things. They’re not designed to include, they’re designed to exclude. They’re designed to do something with a long history that includes, yes, the Holocaust: They’re designed to ghettoize (“put in or restrict to an isolated or segregated place, group, or situation”).

Absent government involvement, if a business doesn’t want to accept un-vaccinated customers (or any other kind of customers), that’s, well, their business. But they should shoulder the costs themselves instead of asking governments to create and impose uniform identification schemes for them.

A federal vaccine passport would create yet another government surveillance tool. It would also inevitably be used by local governments to legally exclude the un-vaccinated from particular types of businesses (such as nightclubs), particular expressions of public life (such as youth sports), and quite possibly entire zones of public commerce (such as large shopping centers), all in the name of “public health.”

And the scheme wouldn’t end with COVID-19. It would be continually repurposed and probably made permanent.

I’d like to see everyone choose to get vaccinated, but we should all be opposed to forcibly ghettoizing those who don’


Thomas Knapp -- Photo Credit Avens O'Brien

Photo by Avens O’Brien

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal

 


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C E Voigtsberger
C E Voigtsberger
21 days ago

My social security card has a big red stamp on it “NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES” I’ve had that card since SS was less than 20 years old.

Yeah, right. Try getting through life in any dealings with any form of the goobermint without your SS (notice the similarity in the initials?) number being demanded.

At the time there was significant concern about citizens being identified by numbers (shades of concentration camps) and the stamp on the card was to assure concerned citizens that situation would never come to pass. My guess is that the card was printed without the notation and it was hand stamped on after being printed and before issued.

The SS tattooed their “guests'” ID number on their wrists. Some in the brave new world think that having a chip with your identifying information implanted is a great “convenience”. For whom? Certainly a great convenience for goobermint goons running subjects though a checkpoint verifying identities.

Innoculation passports? No thank you. The nose of the camel is already under the edge of the tent, no sense making it easier for it to move completely in and take over the tent.