Fresh Off Twitter Ban, Naomi Wolf To Headline Anti-Vax "Juneteenth" Event
Organizers told me they found that date appropriate because the ending of slavery and resistance to vaccines are both about "liberation"
Three groups opposed to Covid restrictions, masks, and vaccines are hosting conspiracy theorist Naomi Wolf for a fundraiser entitled "Liberate Our Five Freedoms."
The event is going to be held on Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the end of chattel slavery in the US. Event organizer Kathryn Levin told me that in her view, it's appropriate.
"The 19th is a day of emancipation, and it's a day when we claim our freedom," said Levin. "It's when we see that we are not slaves to mandate. It's when we take our power back."
I asked Levin how she analogized American chattel slavery—where slaves were whipped, beaten, raped, and murdered by their white masters for centuries—to the temporary restrictions over the last 15 months due to the pandemic.
"We have been enslaved by our government," she replied.
"Out-there and delusional"
Wolf, recently a fellow at the nearby American Institute for Economic Research—which made news for the controversial "Great Barrington Declaration" last year—was recently banned from Twitter for spreading disinformation about Covid vaccines.
While on Twitter, Wolf earned a reputation for conspiratorial, unsubstantiated views, opining at various times over the last year that Belfast in the early 1970s was a peaceful place, vaccines could allow people to travel back in time, and that vaccines were being administered to stuffed animals.
"As a historian of autism, I've been reading vile anti-vaccine propaganda for 20 years," tweeted Steve Silberman, "and Wolf's claims were as out-there and delusional as I've ever seen."
Wolf did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
"They are not necessarily who you think they are"
In Columbia County, where the event will be held, the disturbing intersection between the anti-vaccination movement and the far right is on full display.
Michael Richardson, founder of the local newsletter Hate-Watch Report, has been documenting the right wing in the Upper Hudson Valley and Taconic Hills region since February. He told me the anti-vax movement in the area has exploded in recent months. in an attempt to shed light on a dangerous political movement.
"Some of these anti-vax disinformation signs started popping up in the county and a couple of people called me and I said, well, I'll look into it," said Richardson.
Photos from demonstrations found in the Gallery section of the Do We Need This website show protesters carrying disinformation-filled signs and placards alongside farmers and families.
"They are not necessarily who you think they are," said Richardson. "They're not, how shall I say it, Hillary Clinton's deplorables. They're actually back-to-the-landers that are into holistic health, home schooling, organic farming and the like."
But when these New Age types collide with far right conspiracy theories, Richardson said, "it takes a very bizarre shape, and that's what we're seeing right here."
The Juneteenth event runs from 4pm to 8pm and will be at an as yet undisclosed location in Ghent, New York, around 14 miles away from Hudson.
Local groups Nobletown Productions for Arklight and Stand Up Massachusetts! are running the program along with Wolf's The Daily Clout. The event is also being promoted by Do We Need This, which is based in New York's Columbia County. Wolf will talk about the five principles of No Mask Mandates, No Vaccine Passports, Freedom of Assembly, Open Schools Now, and No Emergency Law at the fundraiser.
The anti-vax movement, a baseless conspiracy theory adhered to by fringe personalities across the political spectrum, has gained in popularity since the onset of the pandemic. Anti-vaxxers have merged with members of the far right and become an amalgamation of interests and issues grouped around a general rejection of health mandates.
"There's so much happening, there's so many things going down, and it's my goal to wake everybody up to everything," said Levin, the event organizer.
In an email, Betsy Cashen of Do We Need This told me that the event was part of an effort building off a call by naturopath Dr. Pam Popper to “stand up” against Covid restrictions.
“During the COVID-19 debacle, the liberties and freedoms of Americans have been taken away with breathtaking speed, and are still limited, even in states that claim to be reopening their economies,” said Cashen. “If we are smart and organized we can make our people free again! Pam Popper has launched a country-wide movement.”
To that end, the group is helping host Wolf. Leland Lehrman, a member of Do We Need This, described Wolf as "one of the most significant public intellectuals to have begun to question the restrictions upon freedom that are associated with mandatory vaccination and masking." In Lehrman’s view, Wolf's proclamations and research are essential for understanding "the power relationships between medical authority and technocratic authority" and the "transhumanist agenda."
Lehrman, who cited liberal website Common Dreams and Substack writer Matt Taibbi as two news sources he trusts, said that the vaccination rollout may well have a Rockefeller-Gates connection to eugenics. He also told me he is skeptical of the "germ theory" of the coronavirus, and diseases in general.
"I'm not 100 percent convinced that the germ theory, as typically described is true, which means that not only do I not believe that the so-called coronavirus is causal of the current malaise in the world, but I also don't believe that many of the so-called disease agents are causal," Lehrman said. "I generally consider toxic environment, poor food, lifestyle and water access to be the major causes of disease."
The anti-vax movement has come under fire recently for the use of yellow stars to analogize vaccines to the Holocaust, making the decision to co-opt Juneteenth for a Naomi Wolf lecture questionable, to say the least.
Lehrman distanced himself from the decision, but event organizer Levin told me that she didn't see anything wrong with hosting the event on Juneteenth and promoting it as such on the flyer.
"Juneteenth is a day of emancipation and of freedom," said Levin. "And I think that's appropriate because what we're fighting for is our freedom, freedom to assemble. Freedom to hug, to kiss. Freedom to hold hands, freedom to go into a store. Freedom to do whatever we want medically without having to tell everybody about it."
To Levin, Covid restrictions are not only reminiscent of chattel slavery—they also remind her of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. She told me that while the country wasn't at full Holocaust, we're "a step before that."
"You see people wearing the mask," Levin said. "It's not so dissimilar from Nazi Germany. You know, the Jews had to wear stars."
"They were bullied," she said, adding, in an attempt to tie the two together, "and people who don't wear a mask are bullied."
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