There’s been a lot of discussion, much of it negative, about the below post on the official White House website. In this blog post, I will join in the discussion and give my thoughts
First of all, I’m not a fan of using the terms “the vaccinated” and “the unvaccinated.” I prefer to talk about people who have gotten the Covid vaccine and people who haven’t. I find it wrong, and somewhat demeaning, to use language that defines people by whether or not they have gotten a medical procedure.
More substantively, I disagree with the assertion that “the vaccinated” have “done the right thing.” Getting a vaccine is morally neutral. Opting for and opting against vaccination are equally good, acceptable, and valid options. There is nothing morally virtuous about getting a medical procedure, and there is nothing wrong or immoral whatsoever about abstaining from doing so.
Additionally, as many others have expressed, I find the tone of the second paragraph to be disturbing. It is clear that Biden (or whichever of his employees wrote the post) is intending to threaten and intimidate people into getting the vaccine. He is essentially saying: if you make a medical decision that is different than mine, then horrible things are going to happen to you. Plus, he tries to induce guilt and shame by telling those who opt out that they will “overwhelm” hospitals, causing other people to be unable to get the medical services they need. In addition to being factually inaccurate (data indicate that the omicron variant is generally mild regardless of vaccine status, and that the vast majority of people who get it do not require hospitalization), Biden’s words are mean-spirited and smack of authoritarianism and bullying. It is inappropriate, unkind, unjust, and wrong to introduce moral condemnation into a non-moral topic
The hypocrisy of Biden’s words is also noteworthy. Throughout his campaign, and in his inaugural address, Biden presented himself as being all about decency, civility, and unity. Yet now he is praising one group of people while condemning and threatening another, solely on the basis of the personal medical decisions that they have made. It is ironic that so many people who relentlessly attacked Donald Trump for being a “bully” are perfectly fine with a president who condemns, coerces, and threatens people for making a medical decision that differs from that of the majority.
This statement, and the many similar ones that he has made so far during his presidency, show Biden to be far more of a bully than Trump ever was. Biden’s policies and rhetoric are the antithesis of decency, civility, and unity.