Republicans join Oregon Anti-Vaxx demonstration

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13 Jun 2021, 9:13 am

Anti-Vaccine Activists Vow Resistance at Oregon’s Capitol, Joined by Republican Officials

Quote:
Some of Oregon’s leading Republicans catered to conspiracy theorists and vaccine skeptics this week, in an extraordinary assembly on the Capitol lawn that declared the prevention of COVID-19 was worse than the disease and any attempt to check vaccination status was a form of state-sponsored discrimination.

“They call us extremists,” state Sen. Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg) told the gathering. “Not because we are extreme, but because we are not willing to go sprinting in whatever direction they are herding us in.”

About 200 people of all ages gathered in front of the Oregon Capitol on June 9 for a “vigil” organized by the group Oregonians for Medical Freedom, which has lobbied against childhood vaccinations since well before the COVID-19 pandemic began. The vigil was not to mourn the lives lost to COVID 19 worldwide, but rather to highlight losses suffered from COVID-19-related lockdowns, vaccines and face mask policies.

The size of the crowd was not unusual for a rally of vaccine skeptics: Parents opposed to childhood immunizations have packed the Capitol rotunda before. But the attendance of top Republican officials demonstrated the degree to which vaccine resistance has become a plank of conservative politics. Indeed, the unifying theme of the rally was the assertion that efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus were a pretext for restricting freedom.

The Oregonians for Medical Freedom event drew advance attention for the announcement that Naomi Wolf, a celebrated feminist author, would be among the speakers. She did not in fact appear June 9. Organizers said she had canceled at the last minute, and read a statement from her.

The statement attributed to Wolf pledged support for a bill sponsored by Thatcher to outlaw Oregon’s businesses or government from checking vaccine status. “Oregon has been one of the most draconian states in the land in terms of illegal and unconstitutional restriction on liberty,” it said. “Governor Brown has imposed restrictions on assembly, mask mandates, and business closures and other measures that curtail freedom.”

Most people in attendance dressed in white. Members of the crowd carried signs comparing current COVID restrictions in Oregon and the U.S. to authoritarian regimes. “Papers Please. Never Again!” one read, with a yellow Star of David in the middle comparing vaccination cards to the Nazi identification of Jews before the Holocaust. “Stop Medical Apartheid,” read another, harking back to the racist segregation laws of 1990s South Africa.

Speakers ranged from Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Starrett, comparing noncompliance with COVID regulations to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, to Beaverton pediatrician Dr. Paul Thomas, whose medical license is imperiled by his advice to parents that they forgo the full schedule of childhood immunizations. His presentation alleged that vaccines have been tied to autism and heart disease.

Several children and teenagers alleged that masks had physically or mentally harmed them. One high school student described passing out while playing basketball with a mask on. “I thought I was going to heaven,” she said. “I thought, ‘It’s OK, it isn’t that bad compared to here.’”

“We’ve been looking at draconian behavior,” said Katherine Green, who runs a group called the Children’s Defense Organization. “I mean, the masking of children is a crime. This is child abuse. Kate Brown is legalizing child abuse in this state

Nazis, Warsaw Ghetto? I see the demonstration and the anti vaxx physician’s career being allowed to proceed without interference.


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