Mike Rowe is right about the unvaccinated

Over the weekend, television host Mike Rowe responded to a user on Facebook who had asked him why he didn’t do more to encourage his viewers to get the coronavirus vaccines. Rowe’s response was one of the better I’ve seen: He said he had gotten vaccinated as soon as he was able, that he believed the vaccines work, but that he understands the reasons why so many Americans are still hesitant.Mike Rowe talking on a cell phone© Provided by Washington Examiner

The Bulwark’s Jonathan V. Last took Rowe’s reasonable reply and distorted it to accuse the “Dirty Jobs” star of peddling anti-vaccine rhetoric. I won’t bother responding to every one of Last’s points because Rowe has already done a great job of that himself here:https://www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=3533

But I will just say this: Last managed to write more than 1,000 words trying to debunk Rowe’s point without actually addressing Rowe’s point at all, which is that one of the reasons so many Americans remain wary of the government’s vaccination efforts is because of the many mistakes that public officials such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and Vice President Kamala Harris made.

If Last wants to defend Fauci, Harris, and every single other irresponsible official who messed up during the pandemic, that’s fine. But the fact still remains that their mistakes cost our institutions much-needed credibility, and that lack of credibility has fostered distrust in not only the system, but in the solution that the system provided.

Rowe put it this way:

The point I was trying to make, is that half the country has lost faith in our most important institutions. We have a massive credibility problem, exacerbated by powerful people who not only moved the goalposts time and time again, but championed the same restrictions they chose to ignore. In my view, this steady drip of hypocrisy helped foster a deep level of mistrust among millions of unvaccinated Americans.

Last tries to work his away around this argument by dismissing the vaccine hesitant as a bunch of Trump supporters who are too stupid to understand what’s best for them medically, and too selfish to think about anyone but themselves. The only thing this claim reveals is that Last is so consumed by his own partisanship that he can’t help but make everything a matter of Bad MAGA-types vs. Everyone Else, when in reality vaccine hesitancy is much more complicated than politics allows. As Rowe points out, minorities still tend to be more vaccine-hesitant than white Americans. There are many reasons for this, and none of them have to do with Trump.

But let’s focus on the Republican vaccine skeptics, since that’s what Last wants to do. I happen to know many of these types, and I’ve found that the best way to broach the topic of vaccination is to meet them where they’re at, which is exactly what Rowe tried to do in his original comment. Yes, the original coronavirus projections were completely wrong. Yes, the government’s lockdown efforts did a lot more harm than good, and the continued imposition of restrictions has gotten out of control. And yes, many of our officials were dishonest and hypocritical. All of these complaints are true and justified. But consider this: the vast majority of people who are in the hospital right now with the coronavirus are unvaccinated. The people most likely to end up with long-term symptoms are the unvaccinated. You don’t need to pay attention to Fauci anymore because those numbers speak for themselves.

We’ll never be able to convince everybody, and that’s okay. But Rowe has a much better chance than Last, who doesn’t really seem interested in persuading anyone at all.

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