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The dangers of polarising opinion

Dear Sir,

I think most people would agree that the recent outbreaks of coronavirus in Bermuda were caused by a small, unvaccinated minority behaving irresponsibly, perhaps emboldened by the apparent reluctance of the authorities to enforce the rules.

To blame the entire unvaccinated population and to seek to punish them for the actions of the few, as proposed by the recently announced 14-day, supervised incarceration of unvaccinated returning residents, is irrational, unfair and just plain wrong.

It is understandable to want the maximum uptake of the vaccine in the hope of minimising the number who may succumb to the virus and avoid stress on the health system. To that effect, a positive concerted vaccination drive is to be applauded. However, when that campaign turns negative, it becomes self-defeating, serving to strengthen the views of the target audience who may feel they have no other option but to push back.

Residents pressing the cause of those who are against vaccination took to the streets last weekend (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Implying the unvaccinated are selfish and uncaring, calling them dangerous walking time bombs — and seeking to punish them with incarceration and financial penalties are not signs of a positive campaign.

Furthermore, I believe we are on dangerous ground regarding the attitude being expressed by some of the vaccinated in our community against those who, for their own reasons, do not wish to get the vaccine. It would be naive to suggest that there are no so-called anti-vaxxers among this group, who are simply against all vaccines. However, to categorise them all that way is not only equally naive, it is disrespectful and dangerous. By implying that the "unvaccinated", in toto, are to blame for the increase in cases, deaths and the continued restrictions on our freedom, these self-appointed vaccine opinion leaders are in danger of defining a new targeted minority group.

This is the same thinking that ultimately results in so-called “hate crimes” — ie, when an entire minority group is targeted because of the actions of a small number within that group. There are many examples of such behaviour, the attacks on Asians in America because of the origin of the virus being the most recent. No doubt that some will say that this is a leap too far, and that, ironically, all vaccinated people don’t think that way and shouldn’t be blamed for the actions or words of a few.

In closing, I implore the Premier, David Burt, to reconsider the proposed treatment of unvaccinated returning residents. It is creating a division in our society, which is something he has said, many times, he does not want to do.

There has to be a better way to protect society against the virus without unfairly punishing one segment of the population. A look at what Iceland, another island, is doing to open up may be a good place to start.

JOHN BROUGH

Southampton

Ps. For the record, I have been vaccinated.

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Published May 08, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated May 07, 2021 at 10:12 pm)

The dangers of polarising opinion

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