They’re Crazy Down in Florida

Some states were more reluctant than others to recognize the reality of covid. Florida has been in the vanguard of this indisposed cohort, which includes South Dakota, Texas and other red states. Florida governor Ron DeSantis recently signed a law prohibiting vaccine passports, invoking, as he did so, the good common sense of Floridians – not exactly what was on display last year, as residents and tourists flooded beaches at the height of the pandemic.

Fittingly, Florida is home to a school that, the New York Times reported May 2, “became a beacon for anti-vaxxers.” Centner Academy apparently prohibited recently vaccinated teachers from coming near students. “A fifth-grade math and science teacher, peddled a bogus conspiracy theory,” the Times reported, warning students “that they should not hug parents who had been vaccinated against the coronavirus for more than five seconds because they might be exposed to harmful vaccine shedding.” Earlier the school had threatened to fire teachers who got vaccinated.

But these overt anti-vax hallucinations did not harm the school. Oh no! Remember, this is Florida we’re talking about. Home to a former president who bellows the shameless lie to any who will listen and tons who won’t that he, not Joe Biden, won last election, despite scads of recounts contradicting this prevarication and numerous lawsuits tossed out, many by judges Trump himself appointed.

The latest piece of astonishing mendacity from the Trump quadrant shot from the mouth of GOP congressman Andrew Clyde, who pooh-poohed the attempted January 6 coup at the national capitol as mere tourism. I didn’t know it was okay for tourists to riot, break into federal buildings, deface walls, attack cops, steal House representatives’ laptops and disrupt an election transition, but, silly me. I must have had a too narrow-minded definition of tourism. Now that Americans have been enlightened by Rep. Clyde, no one can claim to be surprised at U.S. tourist assaults on Westminster Palace guards, or at our fellow American sightseers making off with sculptures from the Uffizi Gallery. The possibilities introduced by this so-called lawmaker and the implications for the law itself are truly mind-boggling.

Florida is also the state that has repeatedly sent Marco “Invade Venezuela!” Rubio to the senate, a perch from which the senator has tirelessly clamored for various bloodthirsty plots against the governments of several Latin American countries that displease him by being insufficiently capitalist. There is little excuse for this electoral recidivism. Whining that colorful liars like Trump keep endorsing Rubio, won’t cut it as an excuse. Rubio was winning long before Trump came along. Not so Florida congressman Matt “How Was I Supposed to Know How Old She Was?” Gaetz. He whisked into congress on Trump’s coattails, though his prospects for remaining there currently look about as good as those of Trump ever actually uttering anything other than stunningly fraudulent whoppers.

So, unsurprisingly regarding Centner Academy, after the wild vaccine brouhaha hit the news, loads of queries “came from people who wanted to enroll their children at the school, where tuition runs up to $30,000 a year.” These parents doubtless approve Gov. Ron “Who Needs Masks?” DeSantis’ new state order banning any kind of vaccine passports. DeSantis signed it to much fanfare in early May. According to the Miami Herald, DeSantis’ rule invalidates “all remaining local emergency COVID orders.” DeSantis signed a bill “that bars businesses, schools and government entities across Florida from asking anyone to provide proof of a Covid-19 vaccination.”

This measure chucks a huge road-block in front of any robust public health policies “by requiring any future emergency orders to be narrowly tailored and extended only in seven-day increments for a total of 42 days.” No surprise there. DeSantis is a Republican. And it’s an article of GOP faith that no virus, no matter how lethal, should detach business from its profits. Let those meat-packers collapse in comas on the factory floor! Let those diners seethe with covid as they cram into eateries! Money comes first! Public health takes a back seat to that. And woe to any sensible businessman who wants to require customers and staff to be vaccinated. He may think that’s a successful business model, but the ideologues in the GOP disagree. Unfettered capitalism means let them drop while they shop. Most Republican governors adhere to this motto. God help us if another pandemic breaks out anytime soon.

There’s little to do about this besides thanking your lucky stars, if you don’t reside in Florida, South Dakota or any other state run by a fanatically pro-business ideologue. Gone are the days, or even the memory, of mandatory smallpox and polio vaccination drives. Our forefathers had a different priority, namely survival. As a result, humanity eradicated smallpox and nearly stamped out polio. But that won’t happen this time around with covid, not with the worst instincts of so many of the “vaccine hesitant” reinforced by the morons who call themselves anti-vaxxers.

These nuts range from those who merely quietly mistrust medicine to outright raving lunatics, who believe the covid vaccination campaign is a government plot to inject us all with chips. What these microscopic chips will do as they course through our bloodstreams is unclear, but the delusions range from causing infertility to mind control. Why the government would be remotely interested in controlling the so-called mind of an anti-vaxxer is never explained. But I’m here to tell these anti-vaccine zealots: Relax, the CIA doesn’t care about you. It won’t be activating the chip it implanted in your teeth during your last dental visit, because it’s too busy arranging to hang onto its share of the world heroin market once the U.S. military leaves Afghanistan. Yes the CIA is up to its eyeballs in conspiracies, but they just involve money and power, not the dubious thought processes of dimwits.

So for those alarmed at the prospects of computer chip-induced hypnosis, I say, do us all a favor and see a psychiatrist. CIA plots silence plenty of people, but not, sadly, crazy folk who believe in vaccine conspiracies. Really, who is interested in injecting chips into anti-vaxxers or the governors who pander to them? Bill Gates? George Soros? Not likely. The former’s too busy moving profits to off-shore tax havens, while the latter is no doubt occupied with the next color revolution in any Slavic statelet that hasn’t had one yet. Though if we had some kind of “sanity chip,” maybe we could sneak it into the molars of politicians chasing the anti-vax vote. It would make the American circus much duller, but maybe we could use a little boredom from time to time.

Eve Ottenberg is a novelist and journalist. Her latest book is Lizard People. She can be reached at her website.