OR so, coincidentally, Branch Covidian compounds The Australian and the ABC claimed today – without evidence. For the national daily, Paige Taylor reports that an “emergency meeting” was held last Friday between indigenous affairs Minister Ken Wyatt and senior Aboriginal churchmen and “remote doctors” to counter what she describes as “vaccine lies.” No, she isn’t referring to the touted efficacy of masks, lockdowns and syringing children:
The meeting heard that from Looma in the far northwest of Australia to Glebe, in inner Sydney, much of the misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines is reaching Aboriginal communities on community noticeboards on Facebook. In some cases, vaccine sceptics are embedded in remote communities. Some are non-Indigenous members of religious groups, the meeting heard.
The meeting heard outrageous Covid-19 lies that had circulated in the far northwest corner of Australia include that the vaccine is a devil tracking microchip, makes fertile women infertile and was invented as a form of racial cleansing to wipe out First Nations people. Other lies included that God does not want Indigenous people to take the vaccine and that Aboriginal people do not need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 because God will protect them.
Only two paragraphs but this report is already creaking under the weight of fake. When did Glebe become a remote area? If “Aboriginal communities” have access to Facebook, they have access to the same online sources of news and advice as non-Aborigines. Is the argument that black people are especially incapable of sifting it intelligently? Wouldn’t that be racist? By “embedded,” Taylor means some people sceptical about the necessity of vaccines live in those communities. And some live on the North Shore. Neither Taylor nor Mr Wyatt – nor anybody else she spoke to – provides any proof that hundreds or thousands of Aborigines believe vaccines are for tracking (that’s what iPhones are for) or will render women infertile. Regarding claims that the Almighty is against the vaccine and will shield those who don’t have it, these may indeed be “other lies” but Taylor has no way of confirming it.
Meanwhile, the ABC presents an “expert” who claims non-whites are being targeted by “groups” of marauding vaccination maligners:
Dr Kaz Ross is an Asian studies specialist, and an independent researcher into far-right extremism, conspiracy theories and digital activism.
She said certain groups had realised marginalised communities, some that don’t have English as their first language, were having difficulty receiving health messages.
“The anti-vaxxers have worked out that they can move into these communities,” Dr Ross told ABC News Breakfast.
She explained they often appeared to be kind and compassionate people presenting balanced information when they were actually presenting anti-vaccine disinformation.
Dr Ross said anti-vax groups were purposefully going into communities at the centre of outbreaks.
“Melbourne’s northern suburbs, they hang around those places, they stick up fake QR codes, so that if people think that they’re QR coding into the supermarket [but] they’re actually clicking through to an anti-vax site,” she said.
Victoria police declined to comment.
There is something disturbing in play here but it isn’t the ‘targeting’ of ‘diverse’ communities with life-endangering propaganda. What’s disturbing is that framing ‘right-wing extremists’ whenever it is impolitic to criticise the sometimes lousy idiosyncracies of particular non-European cultures has become a norm. The media mocks white bogans for believing silly things but when Aborigines and Muslims believe silly things, they cannot bring themselves to treat the latter with the same disdain. The media is saying, in other words, that non-whites are like children.
Moreover, after years of sacralised ‘smoking ceremonies,’ ABC-promoted lies about the ‘science’ in Aboriginal customs and a lot of subjective palaver about ‘healing,’ indigenous lobbyists have some nerve blaming outsiders for supposedly endemic obscurantism. The people to blame are not “anti-vaxers” but the Dark Emu brigade. And, of course, themselves.