“Trust No One”: Anti-Vax Meeting Devolves Into Paranoia

Photograph Source: Becker1999 – CC BY 2.0

The public call included warnings that the Chinese Communist Party controls Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and suspicion that others in the meeting were infiltrators

A meeting hosted by anti-vax group Stand Up Massachusetts on September 13 included exactly the kind of paranoid, delusional ramblings you’d expect to hear from conspiracy theorists—including thinly veiled accusations that others on the call were double agents.

Featuring members of the medical conspiracy theory organization America’s Frontline Doctors and a number of fringe characters in the Massachusetts anti-vax movement, the call aimed to educate members “on current freedom-focused school issues and homeschooling.”

But the meeting devolved into irrational claims of infiltration and dark warnings of coming danger.

“I want to close with a warning to everybody: it’s very possible that America’s Front Line Doctors is doing somebody else’s job,” Great Barrington, Massachusetts resident Dattatreya Haynes said. “It’s very possible that Stand Up Massachusetts has been infiltrated and is being controlled by other forces.”

Haynes, who recently sent local school board officials accusations that they were in violation of the Nuremberg Code, wasn’t the only person on the call to express paranoid, conspiracist views. Dianna Ploss, an independent candidate for Massachusetts governor in the 2022 race, ranted on a number of occasions during her remarks about the Chinese Communist Party, Agenda 2030, trans rights, and more.

“Charlie Baker is an agent of the Chinese Communist Party,” Ploss, a fervent support of former President Donald Trump who lost her New Hampshire radio show in 2020 due to a xenophobic, anti-Hispanic rant, said. “You cannot trust them. I know them. I’m an independent now. Trust no one.”

Ploss also argued that there is an ongoing, “full blown communist attack on America” that has its roots in the UN’s Agenda 2030, a series of sustainable development goals that has been the subject of conspiracy theories since it was adopted in 2015.

Others on the call made similar comments. One woman, who identified herself as Gwen, said that mask mandates and other public health initiatives were “reminiscent of Nazi Germany.”

Gwen also said that there was a “frequency” behind the mandates and that there was a shadowy agenda at work.

“They will take our children like psychopaths always will,” Gwen said. “They won’t hesitate. They will take whatever they can get.”

Ellen, another Berkshire County resident, told the call about her activism, which involved harassing local pharmacists.

“This weekend, I went to all the local pharmacies to talk about informed consent with the vaccine and to talk about the Nuremberg Code,” she said.

Despite the paranoia and anger from the callers during the one-hour-42-minute meeting, their views are increasingly a tiny minority. Americans are getting vaccinated and adhering to public health mandates with a majority of the country supporting taking the necessary steps to getting the pandemic under control.

Charlatans like Tucker Carlson, Michael Tracey, Jimmy Dore, and other fringe characters continue to fight against public health mandates aimed at keeping people safe from Covid, and are making money doing it. But they’re reaching an ever-more isolated corner of the general public whose frustration is increasingly apparent—and whose rhetoric is increasingly unsettling.

The caller comments revealed the levels of paranoia and delusion that pervade the modern anti-vax movement as its adherents are pushed further and further out of the mainstream. Haynes, in his remarks, stopped just short of calling for violence, but made clear he sees the conflict as a war.

“This is not a question of fighting back. If we don’t go on the offensive, it is game over,” Haynes said. “If we do not, I’m going to say that again, if we do not go on the offensive, it is game over. The enemy will destroy us piecemeal.”

This story originally appeared on Eoin’s newsletter The Flashpoint. Sign up here.

Eoin Higgins is a journalist based in New England. He writes The Flashpoint newsletter. Reporting for this article was funded by a grant from the ExposeFacts program of the Institute for Public Accuracy.