House member Marjorie Taylor Greene commented on a show called “Real America’s Voice” in connection to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requiring members to show proof that they were vaccinated in order not have to wear a mask: “You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany…And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.” There was only limited condemnation of her comments, and none from Republican leadership in the House of Representatives and former President Trump. Unfortunately, the horror of the Holocaust is being lost the further away it is and there are fewer survivors.
Greene then defended her comments by arguing, “I stand by all of my statements. I said nothing wrong. I think any rational Jewish person didn’t like what happened in Nazi Germany, and any rational Jewish person doesn’t like what’s happening with overbearing mask mandates and overbearing vaccine policies.” I guess she could not stop with just one offensive comment, so she doubled down.
She is correct that there are Jewish people who agree with her view about mask mandates and vaccine policies. This week I spoke with someone who is a graduate of the Moshe Hill School of Infectious Diseases. He refuses to wear a mask or get vaccinated. The person admitted that there was a “plague” but said it was over long ago, it is now all about politics. Sounds like Moshe Hill, who in last week’s QJL wrote that “COVID is over.”
There is no question that the country is in a better place than it was at the beginning of the year. However, it is premature to declare “mission accomplished.” There are still too many people who are refusing to vaccinate, many of whom are anti-vaxxers or believe that COVID is over, if it ever did exist. I doubt that many of these people will change their minds. Therefore, there will be significant numbers of people who will not be vaccinated, and the goal of heard immunity seems elusive.
Also, the vaccines are not 100% successful, especially for those like me who took the one J&J shot. I know someone who got COVID and became sick after he was fully vaccinated. Seven members of the New York Yankees front office got COVID after getting shots. This does not even consider the variants that are out there.
Even if I had 100% certainty that I would not get the virus since I am vaccinated, I would still wear a mask when I am around non-vaccinated people. The problem is there are situations when you do not know whether the person is vaccinated, since many non-vaccinated individuals also refuse to use a mask.
All Jews are responsible for each other. I will do what I can to make sure that the person does not get COVID. I do not want to be responsible for the non-vaccinated person getting COVID or spreading it to others. If Izzo Zwiren thinks this makes someone mentally ill (see his column in last week’s paper, “The Mental Illness of Mask Dependency”), I will wear the mask as a badge of honor. If Greene thinks I am not rational, that is fine, since many, including myself, think she is a nut job.
There has been a dispute over whether to turn the Kew Gardens Hills library from a COVID testing site back to the library. There are alternative library branches that are close, such as Queensborough Hill. Kew Gardens Hills has been very fortunate that we have had a testing site in our neighborhood. It has made testing very convenient and has saved countless individuals from spreading COVID-19 and getting earlier medical attention by being able to find out that they have the coronavirus as soon as possible. Also, it has given peace of mind to those who have received a negative test. Even now, I still see people coming to the library to get tested.
Until we get to a point where only a few people require testing, it is important for this facility which services a vital need to continue its function as a COVID test site. If the choice is between saving lives and protecting the health of those in the community or getting books to read, health wins.