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Readers of this blog will hardly be surprised to hear…

… that this nation’s first case of polio in many years originated in an ultraorthodox Jewish sect. The Times of Israel summarizes:

Young man who recently got married is suffering from paralysis; was not vaccinated; is a resident of Rockland County, which has a history of low vaccine compliance

The story is getting wide coverage. What it represents is the shame of a nation. A modern, enlightened country like the US should see no polio at all, since any outbreak is the result of absolutely basic disregard of personal and civic health norms.

Imagine: A highly contagious disease like that lurking, and a community’s indifference to basic science and the well-being of its children allows people to go unvaccinated. It’s of a piece with these same communities refusing to educate their children to national standards, breaking tax laws, and breaking non-discrimination laws. Not to mention refusing vaccines for other easily avoided scourges.

The new polio case comes amid fierce backlash against vaccination in some Orthodox communities fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic and following a measles outbreak in Rockland County in 2018 and 2019 that was centered in the area’s Haredi Orthodox population.

The New York Times:

[This] community was also a nexus of a measles outbreak in 2018 and 2019, with hundreds of cases in the county and in Brooklyn, which is also home to many Orthodox residents. Rockland County’s rate of polio vaccination for small children is significantly lower than the rate for other counties outside of New York City, according to state data.

These communities, which voted at a higher percentage for Trump than any other community in America, and which sent busloads of community members to, er, various January 6 events in Washington (the insurrection was one of the very few places on earth where you could watch ultraorthodox Jews and neo-Nazis cavorting together), will fight national authorities tooth and nail if any government agency actually tries to make them behave. We have already witnessed, in the streets of New York, how shockingly violent they can be.

Indeed these are the Trumpian shock troops, communities of people who recognize that Trump’s violent nihilism is their own. If government has any defensive purpose at all, it is to respond to the threat profoundly non-compliant sects like this one represent.

Margaret Soltan, July 23, 2022 1:53AM
Posted in: forms of religious experience

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