These anti-vaxxers are something else:
A hodgepodge of Trumpworld superfans, disillusioned Democrats, far-right extremists, self-identifying independents, and street preachers assembled Sunday morning to rally against equal parts COVID-19 vaccines and mandates.
The event started at the Washington Monument, with attendees making the trek to Lincoln Memorial to hear from many anti-vax superstars, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., controversial virologist Dr. Robert Malone, and Fox Nation’s Lara Logan, who has been ghosted by her employer.
Ahead of the march to the Lincoln Memorial, attendees gathered to speak with each other and hold sporadic demonstrations, including dancing and chanting to anti-vax rap songs.
Far-right fanatics were out in full force, from the extremist members of the hate group Proud Boy to rank-and-file supporters who consume everything that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones utters.
John Kopel, a staunch advocate against COVID-19 vaccines and an InfoWars loyalist, told The Daily Beast ahead of the rally he is a “fan of Alex Jones.” Carrying a sign that promoted Jones’ media entity and claimed “[Dr. Anthony] Fauci is a mass murderer,” Kopel said that he remains upset with former President Trump’s initial push of what he calls the “bio-weapon.” The rally-goer added that Trump’s endorsement of the vaccine is a “serious issue.” “We are for medical freedom,” he continued before suggesting that Trump might have been “corrupted.”
But it wasn’t only right-wingers in attendance, as many self-identifying Democrats and others also showed up to the event.
Clare Tobin, a lifelong Democratic voter from Chicago, voiced her frustrations with politicians pushing mandates and vaccines. “I don’t trust the vaccine,” she said. “You can’t even trust the Democrats, either. They all have the same message. They all had the same agenda.”
Then there was the straight-up bizarre, which included one attendee dressing up as Uncle Sam with a vaccine going through his top hat.
Elliot Crown, from New York, who dressed in garb resembling Uncle Sam, told The Daily Beast he was there to protest Americans’ “rights being curtailed,” citing the pandemic as a “fraud.” “They [both Democrats and Republicans] are taking orders, it is a global thing. They all use the same phrase ‘Build Back Better.’”
Along the march route, attendees were also enticed to buy Trump paraphernalia, given religious books, and encouraged to take a free nasal spray that promises to cure anyone of the coronavirus if they are infected. Xlear CEO Nathan Jones, whose company sells the spray and has been sued by the FTC, was in attendance and baselessly claimed to The Daily Beast that his nasal solution “works” on COVID-19, adding that “just using saltwater [will] stop the spread of COVID-19 in the lungs.”
During the event, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. made a bonkers Holocaust analogy, a theme from the day’s activists as attendees brought comparable messaging along with them on signs. “Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could hide in the attic like Anne Frank did,” he told the crowd.
I have often compared the Trump phenomenon to a Grateful Dead concert as a way to illustrate that it’s more of a tribal gathering than just a place to see your idols. I think this from the anti-vax crowd yesterday is more on the nose than I anticipated. (Of course, some of those people would actually be at a Grateful Dead concert, if they still had them — they aren’t all right wingers.)