DON'T DIE OF IGNORANCE

 

The latest gospel from David Icke was delivered to a large crowd in Trafalgar Square. “Anyone with half a brain cell on active duty can see coronavirus is nonsense”, he pronounced. Fair play to him: in the matter of having half a brain cell on active duty, Mr Icke can be considered something of a pioneer.

In the years since he announced himself to be the “son of the Godhead” our boy has not been short of arresting theories. It is not his fault if you remain unaware that the earth has been hijacked by a race of reptilian aliens propelling their hostage planet to a dystopian and Orwellian future. (And you thought that was all just down to Donald J. Trump, right?)

But I digress. It is, in any event, bad form to intrude on someone’s public mental breakdown and I would demur, but for the fact that Mr Icke, and his standing army of wacko conspiracy theorists are a clear and present danger to the public health of the nation. Until recently I chose to comfort myself with the thought that this particular brand of mental instability was confined to a certain kind of American citizen.

You will know of whom I speak. Those chaps festooned with battlefield class weaponry who rage at the Democrats’ attempts to interfere with their sacred right to bear arms. Usually enough of the latter to bump off more intruders than are to be found in the average penitentiary. Those rabid evangelical “Christians” who scream at mask wearing TV interviewers that they have been sent by Satan to do the devil’s work. Those sporting QAnon badges and posters letting you know they are disciples of one of the loopier “deep state” conspiracy theories in vogue in those parts of the States political sanity finds it tricky to reach.

It might all be risible were it not so very, very dangerous in the current emergency. For amongst the conspiracy brigade – present alas at the London rally as well as growing in influence in the United States of Credulity – were the anti vaccine brigade. It was, you’ll remember, a disgraced UK medic who first spread panic about the MMR vaccine and its alleged and totally unfounded links to autism. But the result of that seed being planted and multiplying has caused an utterly unnecessary rise in infections on both sides of the Atlantic. Anti Vaxxers, as they style themselves, will claim they are merely exercising personal freedoms. Amongst those freedoms, apparently is the right to send unvaccinated children into classrooms with children whose parents understand the value and necessity of building herd immunity. The UK lost its measles-free status in 2019 following an outbreak caused by low uptake of the MMR vaccine.

So that group too found its way into Trafalgar Square amidst an almost entirely mask-free, rag tag and bobtailed army of the disaffected, the dotty, and the downright dangerous: amongst the flags fluttering in the Autumnal breeze was one traditionally flown by UK fascists. There were lots of union flags too and English national flags. Way back in the mists of political time the then Labour Party leader tried to wrest the Union Flag back from the grasp of the neo Nazi right. I fear they have grabbed it back.

The placards suggested that this constituency also thought they were flying these flags in the cause of personal freedom, with slogans like Masks not Muzzles and the usual sprinkling of loopy linkages of Covid 19 to the new generation of phone masts. Arrange the words “button their up back the heads do” into a well known phrase or saying, if you’ve the time and inclination.

One of them also read World Hoax Organisation, which brings us back to the wit and wisdom of Mr Icke. So you didn’t have to, I watched a small section of a vimeo on an outlet, to which I confess I am a stranger, called London Real, inviting me to transform myself. David’s opening gambit to his American interlocutor was nothing if not arresting: “There is no Covid 19 – it doesn’t exist”. This will be something of a news flash to those mourning its victims, those administering care to its sufferers, and pretty well every medical expert in captivity.

But note the “pretty well”. For David has found other medical maestros who are apparently not allowed near the BBC and CNN because they dare to question the otherwise accepted wisdom. Fortunately for the planet – those bits of it not already in thrall to reptilian aliens – David has been able to access their somewhat unique views. I’m afraid I failed to last the two hour course, but stayed with him long enough to gather that what the world thought was a new viral strain was no more than genetic material taken from a small number of sick Chinese folk and mis-labelled. So there.

Risible as this all sounds, it has, as they say, cut through to the gullible and the more lunatic fringe of libertarianism. Those assembled in London, and even in normally rational Berlin, were urging “no more lockdowns, no social distancing, no masks”. They were urging us, in effect, to put the health of every nation at risk in order to protect them from any personal inconvenience.

If we have learned anything from this pandemic - and we are garnering new slivers of evidence every day - it’s that self centered, “liberty” obsessed gatherings pose a huge risk to everyone present, and everyone with whom they subsequently interact. Churches in both the southern states of America and the capital of South Korea have been responsible for new outbreaks when they failed to take the most basic of guidelines seriously. Indeed openly flouted them. People whose lives are apparently incomplete without dancing at a sweaty, crowded, unprotected rave or going mob handed on a pub crawl are on that same selfish page.

There was once a campaign to help stop the spread of HIV Aids. “Don’t die of ignorance” was the message. Maybe time to recycle it.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE NATIONAL 31.8.2020