Vaccine resistance is an identity movement

Chris Arnade is a former Wall Street bond trader who has spent the past 10 years of his life photographing and talking to poor and working-class Americans.

Click to enlarge.

His latest article is about why so many Americans over 50 refuse to get vaccinated, and why some regard not getting vaccinated as a badge of honor.

For one thing, he said, they don’t regard risk in the same way that college-educated, professional class people do. They aren’t the ones who work at home to be safe from the coronavirus. They are the ones who make package deliveries to the ones who work at home.

A number of the people to whom Arnade talked regard the pandemic as just one of life’s many risks, along with accidents, overdoses, firings, bankruptcies, felony gun charges, addictions and so on, which you deal with as they happen.

They don’t trust the government, they don’t trust the politicians, they don’t trust the drug companies and the health insurance companies, all with good reason.  By and large, they thinking voting is a waste of time.  And they very much resent being talked down to by out-of-touch elites.

Being unvaccinated is… …a badge of honor, a club membership card, among people who have never trusted authority, and see being unvaccinated as a way to take control of the situation.

A way to stick it to the upright scolds who have been telling me what to do all the time and are always fucking things up.  [snip]

That people have decided to turn not being vaccinated, a damn reckless position for someone over 50 to have, into an identity, shows how desperate people are to join a club.

To find a place that accepts them.  Come on in.  Join us.  The losers everybody hates.  The dumb, the dropouts.  The people with bad taste.  The people who make bad decisions.  Own your loser-dom.  Make one more stupid decision.  Come on!

No doubt these are very sweeping generalizations, and no doubt have many exceptions.  Anti-vaxxers include people in different walks of life.  But Arnade is not making things up.  His writing is based on his reporting.

He said the only way to reach the people he’s writing about is to find key people in communities, and talk them at the bowling alley or church or bar, and talk to them individually.

Sit them down, talk them through it, without scolding, without scorn, without talking down.  Refute the rumors, one by one.  No, Miss Betsy’s stroke had nothing to do with the vaccine, and her sister didn’t have a stroke.

But he said there’s a core group that is unreachable.  His guess is that it is 15 to 30 percent of the population.  Opposition to vaccination is the hill that they have chosen, so to speak, to die on.

The vaccine resistance movement is not limited to the USA.  Protests are worldwide, and probably reflect the same attitudes.

Chris Arnade’s basic idea is that the USA is divided into what he calls the Front Row Kids and the Back Row Kids.

The Front Row Kids are the ones who paid attention in school, went to college and left home so they could climb the ladder of success.  They are pretty much the same as what Thomas Frank calls the professional-managerial class.

The Back Row Kids are the ones who stayed home.  They attended school because they had do, work to earn a living and live lives centered around family, friends, church and community.  They would be the so-called “deplorables,” except that they include all races and ethnicities.

Arnade’s mission in life is to get to know the Back Row Kids and explain them to the Front Row Kids.  He is a man of one insight, but it is an important and true one. 


Among the Unvaccinated: Meaning, Death and Owning the Elites by Chris Arnade for Intellectual Int-ing, his new Substack blog.

Chris Arnade articles in American Compass.

Chris Arnade articles in The Guardian.

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11 Responses to “Vaccine resistance is an identity movement”

  1. howdidthishappen755112381 Says:

    The category in the US least likely to be vaccinated are PhDs. “They don’t trust the government, they don’t trust the politicians, they don’t trust the drug companies and the health insurance companies, all with good reason. By and large, they thinking voting is a waste of time.” Those who’ve paid a modicum of attention recognize programmable voting equipment *will be programmed* to serve the interest of the billionaires. Billionaires own the media that reports the outcome of elections, and decides which candidates will be advanced and which will be trounced or ignored. And the billionaires own the pharmaceutical giants that brought you “the news” intended to scare you witless in a ceaseless marketing campaign for the billionaires’ vaccine products. Why would anyone of any age think these vaccines were trustworthy or that “the news” reflected reality?

    Being unvaccinated is… …a badge of honor, a club membership card, among people who have never trusted authority, and see being unvaccinated as a way to take control of the situation. [And who see that the most heavily vaccinated countries are having spikes of covid cases and hospitalizations, that scores of professional athletes have collapsed and died during games and practice, that unprecedented numbers of adolescents are suffering myocarditis and heart attacks, that VAERS is grossly underreporting adverse reactions to vaccines including deaths, and that we are governed by monsters bent on vaccinating children who have more risk of dying from lightening than from Covid, rarely having more than cold symptoms if they get it, and thereafter having natural immunity far superior to vaccine induced immunity that wanes before 6 months have passed, “necessitating” an endless series of boosters – the business model that Bill Gates anticipated when he chose the head of WHO who would declare a “pandemic.” Gates declared he expected a 20 fold return on his investment in vaccine development that exceeded $10 billion ($200 billion plus in profit), and that’s not counting what he calculated he’d make from government contracts to maintain data banks on the population for their “health passes” – who on earth should trust this friend of Jeffrey Epstein?]

    “That people have decided to turn not being vaccinated, a damn reckless position for someone over 50 to have, into an identity, shows how desperate people are to join a club.” [Hardly – it shows more logic than the people who’ve been hornswoggled, bribed or coerced into getting the vaccines. What about the pilots who don’t want the risk of blood clots while flying? What about the police who’ve decided to walk off the job rather than comply? What insult does this author have for them? They’re not just the flunkies delivering packages or ringing up his purchases at the register.]

    To find a place that accepts them. Come on in. Join us. The losers everybody hates. The dumb, the dropouts. The people with bad taste. The people who make bad decisions. Own your loser-dom. Make one more stupid decision. Come on! [Operation Mockingbird Media must have absorbed this fool – who already acknowledged that the lack of trust in these institutions pushing the mandate is justified.]


    Cynthia Allaire

    Sent from my iPhone



    • philebersole Says:

      You’re misreading Chris Arnade’s intent. He is trying to voice the point of view of those who reject vaccination as a way of defying those in society who scorn them. I am sure he didn’t mean to insult anyone.

      I didn’t mean to insult anybody either. I’m an elderly retiree who lives alone and doesn’t drive, and I am very grateful to those who bring my groceries to the door. They are taking risks to help keep me safe.

      And, as I pointed out, it is not as if the powers that be are to be trusted.

      I hadn’t known about the PhDs, although I did note that anti-vaxxers come from all walks of life. Here is an article on the topic.

      The article has a link to the Carnegie-Mellon University study of the vaccine hesitant.

      Click to access 2021.07.20.21260795v1.full.pdf

      I’ve been vaccinated myself, although I haven’t got a booster shot. I believe the benefits outweigh the risks. I think people should get vaccinated unless they have specific reasons not to be. I don’t advocate compulsory vaccination.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. thecovidpilot Says:

    The FDA has data about the Pfizer vaccine trial:

    vaccine: 21 deaths all causes

    placebo: 17 deaths all causes

    vaccine: 1 covid-related death

    placebo: 2 covid-related deaths

    The baseline non-covid deaths were 15, which we get from the placebo group (17 – 2)

    Vaccines prevented one covid-related death out of 22,000 and were associated with 4 net excess deaths per 22,000 (mostly from heart attacks)

    That’s not a good look for the vaccines.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philebersole Says:

      Do you by chance have a link to your source?


      • thecovidpilot Says:

        Here is a more complete analysis which I did.

        Risks of the Pfizer covid vaccine…

        The FDA data shows 21 deaths for the Pfizer vaccine and 17 deaths for the placebo.

        SOURCE: (page 23)

        The following article about the Pfizer vaccine shows one covid-related death in the vaccine arm and two covid-related deaths in the placebo arm…

        SOURCE: Appendix to “Six Month Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine,” available at

        It’s in Table S-4 in the supplementary appendix, which is in a pdf file that you have to download.

        Putting these together we discover that there were five deaths from Pfizer covid vaccines for every covid-related death they prevented.

        And we can use this to extrapolate excess deaths from the vaccine and from covid.

        69% of the US population has received at least one dose and 59% has received two doses.

        22,000 people were fully vaccinated in the Pfizer trial.

        The excess death rate from the vaccines is 5 / 22,000, or 0.000227

        The US population is 330,000,000.

        The fully vaxxed US population is 0.59 * 330,000,000, or 194,000,000.

        The excess death rate from the fully vaxxed is 194,000,000 * 0.000227, or 44,000.

        Let’s assume that those who receive only a single dose have half the mortality rate of the fully vaccinated.

        10% of the US population has received a single vaccine dose, which is 33,000,000.

        Half of the fully vaxxed mortality rate is 0.000113.

        The contribution to excess mortality from the singly-vaxxed is 33,000,000 * 0.000113, or 3,700.

        So, assuming that no one else gets vaccinated, the total excess mortality from vaccines should be 47,700.

        And since one covid death is prevented by five vaxxed deaths, then the contribution by covid to excess mortality is 0.2 * 47,700, or 9540.

        The figures from the study should be accurate for the period of time of the study. If more people get vaccinated or there is mortality that accumulates over a longer period, then both rates and total numbers will increase. But at least we have a minimal baseline for vaccine deaths and for covid.


      • philebersole Says:

        I think it is a mistake to attribute the variation in overall death rates in groups that got the vaccine and the placebo to the vaccine. There would be some difference in death rates due to random chance.

        The people who conducted the study say the deaths were not vaccine-related. If you think they’re lying, the burden of proof is on you.

        My post was about the vaccine resistance among lower-income people and not the vaccine itself. This post gives my reasons for favoring vaccination.

        Covid vaccinations keep people alive


      • thecovidpilot Says:

        Well, the data shows an alarming trend. The p-value for the data is at 0.5, which means further investigation is warranted because a larger group might show harm.

        (I’ve seen a lot of “statistically insignificant” comments about lots of different trials from people who obviously have no clue about statistics.)

        Back to the main point. Now the population has changed dramatically and we can’t just try this again because by now we have all been exposed to Delta and Omicron. So there’s no point in getting more data. That ought to have been done originally, but wasn’t. And the fact that study sizes weren’t designed to allow for all-cause mortality testing ought to be concerning, but isn’t to some people because they are committed on the vaccines.

        We are seeing now that the unvaccinated have less risk of myocarditis than the vaccinated.


      • thecovidpilot Says:

        ” If you think they’re lying, the burden of proof is on you.”

        So you just trust them? They don’t have to provide method of investigation or data to support their statement???

        In science, what the authors wrote is called a “gloss.” Unsupported decoration with no scientific meaning. That statement you referenced ought to have been backed up with explanations of their methods of investigation and data from their investigations, but that was all lacking.


  3. ragnarsbhut Says:

    Phil Ebersole, I don’t get the reason why a simple refusal of vaccines is not respected by other people. Want the vaccine? Go get it. Don’t want it? Then don’t get it. Simple as that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. philebersole Says:

    Here is some data on the impact of vaccinations on covid death rates.

    I recognize that vaccination does not make you 100 percent safe.
    I recognize that there are individuals that have good reasons for not wanting to be vaccinated.
    I think there are other ways to prevent the spread of the disease in addition to vaccination (better ventilation, masking, anti-viral drugs (maybe ivermectin – not sure about that), avoidance of large crowds.
    If you doubt the value of getting vaccinated, take it up with your physician, not with me.
    My blog’s purpose is to express my thoughts on politics and the passing scene, not to offer medical advice.


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