"After months of trying to convince anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, and anti-social distancers that lifesaving measures are both for their own good and for that of others," many people are frustrated and some may even give in to gloating when a prominent anti-vaxxer dies of COVID-19, Fr. James Martin writes in a New York Times essay. But "crowing over someone's suffering or demise" is "cruel," and "no matter how much I disagree with anti-vaxxers, I know that schadenfreude over their deaths is a dead end."
MSNBC's Chris Hayes was very careful to avoid schadenfreude Monday when he discussed Friday's COVID death of Robert Lamay, "a Washington State Police officer who became something of a hero on the anti-vax right after he was fired from his job last October for refusing to get vaccinated." Lamay told Gov. Jay Inslee (D) to "kiss my a--," earning him "particularly notoriety" and two interviews on Fox News.
Lamay "leaves behind a wife and four children — it's an unbelievably sad story," Hayes said. "It's also a microcosm of a larger daily tragedy in America," where "the vast majority" of the 2,500 daily COVID deaths "are entirely preventable" with a couple of shots.
Lamay genuinely "lived his values," and "those values, no doubt, [were] informed by right-wing media, including Fox News," a "company that takes this virus very, very seriously, at least behind the scenes," Hayes said. In public, Fox News executives have "decided to fan the flames of vaccine resistance, and those flames are getting thousands of people killed, thousands and thousands and thousands. And when those people die, they are, of course, forgotten by Fox News. Lamay passed away on Friday, and as of this afternoon, the network has not mentioned his death once."
"Right-wing influencers like Candace Owens, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and [Steve] Bannon have all raised questions about the efficacy of vaccines or have invited anti-vaxxers to speak to their millions of viewers," Politico reports. "The growth of the vaccine skeptical universe has caused alarm within the Republican party, where officials note that — in addition to the serious public health consequences — the position carries obvious political risks."
Read more at Politico to learn about how former President Donald Trump has dropped his vocal support for vaccines and boosters to accommodate the anti-vaxxers in his base, and Fr. Martin's essay for some reflections on the temptation of COVID schadenfreude.