Clayton Fox was a 2020 Tablet Magazine Fellow. He has been published at Tablet, Real Clear Investigations, Los Angeles Magazine, and JancisRobinson.com.
It’s time for me to come clean. I attended the Defeat The Mandates rally in Washington D.C. I estimate there were about 10,000 people there, one person I spoke with said he’d put it closer to 25,000. Either way the turnout will be ridiculed as pathetic and your trusted nightly news talking heads will gleefully describe it as a massive failure of “right-wing, dangerous anti-vaxxers, Nation of Islam demagogues, and the mis-led nephew of Camelot trying to get Americans killed!” If they report on it at all.
Of course that’s what they’ll say. That’s all they can say. Because the things that were discussed today are things every American needs to discuss, and which our trusted news anchors do not seem to want you to hear. Things like informed consent, risk-benefit analyses, outpatient treatment, vaccine injuries, and the Bill of Rights.
The comedian J.P. Sears opened with a stirring admonition to love each other above all. To remember to protest peacefully and to embrace the differences between us: Democrat, Republican, Vaccinated, Not, Young, Old. Well, not very many young, to be honest. A few little ones with their parents, but surprisingly few if any college students or yuppies.
We heard from a coalition of medical doctors and PhD’s all heavily credentialed in their fields, with messages of caution, delivered with genuine pathos. We heard from Dr. Aaron Kheriaty—the Chief Ethicist of University of California-Davis until last December, when he was fired for not wanting a vaccine post-COVID recovery—imploring us to remember the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn about how freedom slips away. “We didn’t love freedom enough…We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
We heard from Dr. Peter McCullough and Dr. Pierre Kory who reminded us of the needless deaths we have endured due to the obstruction of doctors trying to practice medicine. Lest we accuse them of hyperbole, we also heard from Dr. Paul Marik and Dr. Mary Talley Bowden who have recently lost their jobs over this very obstruction. Drs. Marik and Talley Bowden refused to follow precisely the prescribed protocols for treating COVID-19 which their medical systems demanded and instead used treatments they believed were more efficacious. For this desire to follow their instincts and decades of experience, they lost their jobs. Fear not, says Dr. Talley Bowden for she is suing Houston Methodist and is going to bring them down.
We heard from Dr. Robert Malone, MD, who many of you have either heard on Joe Rogan, or complained about other people hearing on Joe Rogan. Dr. Malone touched on several things—including his plea not to vaccinate children due to safety concerns—and indeed his primary theme was fatherly, he encouraged all of us to strive to inculcate internally three qualities in this pivotal moment: integrity, dignity, and community.
We heard from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a reviled vaccine skeptic with a royal pedigree. Oddly enough, for a man who was born into “the elite” and could be spending his time on a Greek island sipping Assyrtiko and eating octopus, laughing at our suffering, he seemed to have a near-fanatical obsession with the importance of the United States Constitution. He explained with startling clarity that we’ve been undergoing a “controlled demolition of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.” That in fact, there is no clause which allows for the closing of churches while liquor stores remain open, nor for the infringement on the rights of property owners i.e. small business owners who were forced to close. He said, “There is no pandemic exception. There is no war exception. There is no any exception.”
He explained in great detail how the limited data from the Pfizer trial that has been released already casts doubt on the efficacy of the vaccine when one computes for absolute risk as opposed to relative risk. I am not a statistician, but the work sounds compelling, worthy at least of review.
Bobby Jr. spoke of the impending threat of a global surveillance state, anchored to digital health passports, through which every aspect of your movement and of your choices will be tracked and privileges ascribed accordingly. Contrary to what CNN is already putting out, Mr. Kennedy did not compare the plight of the unvaccinated to the plight of Anne Frank; rather he made the point that in a near-future totalitarian nightmare where technology is powerful enough to find you anywhere, there will be nowhere to run nor hide from the overlords. There will be no Bielski brothers.
And then the proceedings got freaky. Brother Reza Islam came up to speak. A representative of Louis Farrakhan. I’ll admit, to say I’m not a fan of Farrakhan would be a massive understatement. He is a demagogue and a hateful one. But Brother Reza came with a message of peace and solidarity, and perhaps, change? While he could not bring himself to refer to Jews as Jews as opposed to “Members of the Jewish Community” he kept referring to a need for the end of infighting amongst the religions. Though it made my stomach turn to hear people cheering for him, much was ameliorated by the cheers for the very next speaker, Orthodox Rabbi Zev Epstein.
Rabbi Epstein spoke of our duty to obey no mandates but those of the creator, and to obey one mandate above all, the mandate to “choose the good.” The crowd cheered equally vociferously for the Brother and the Rabbi and the Black Reverend who followed them. After a very brief calculation, I can conclude that the predominately white crowd, festooned with Christian slogans, anti-Biden flags and associated regalia, did not seem to be rabid anti-Semites, anti-Black racists, or Islamophobes. On the contrary, they seemed respectful, receptive, and grateful that these men of faith had come to state spiritual truths they’ve been hungry to hear.
As far as I observed, there was no violence, no hate, no destruction of property, and besides a few calls to lock up Fauci and the Pharma CEO’s, no “radical” rhetoric. There was a PhD who came up late in the proceedings and pivoted to a full “anti-vax” or at least extremely “vaccine-hesitant” stance, but her information was compelling, worthy of curiosity, and she’s a PhD and we love that right?
Everyone I met there was from a Blue city in a Blue state. It would appear the so-called “anti-vaxxers” are next door. There was a Florida flag flying, but everyone I spoke with were exiles from places that no longer consider them citizens of this country with unalienable rights.
My favorite was Marcia, from outside Philadelphia, who told me she’d marched on the Mall in 1964 against Vietnam and that she was disappointed none of her friends who’d been with her that day wanted to come to this march. She seemed genuinely confused about why that might be. And sad. Marcia says she’s a “small c-communist” and an “atheist.” Two things I am avowedly not. But we walked together, because identity is not truth, and we are both deeply interested in the latter, independent of the labels we adhere to ourselves or which others adhere to us. The pursuit of truth is supercharged by love, which supersedes identity, and it was flowing at the rally.
During one of the speeches, I can’t remember which, we were implored to turn to a neighbor, and give them a hug. After the first, most obvious hug in such a situation, people often stop, having fulfilled their social duty. But everyone it seemed was looking for a third, and a fourth, making up perhaps, for lost time.