Even the most trusting of folks must have noticed that something is ‘slightly off’ with mainstream media of late. It doesn’t matter your particular political tribe (yes, tribalism is the sad reality now). The more the mainstream moans about bias, fake news and conspiracy theories, the more they themselves succumb to the very same.
Finding something resembling ‘the truth’ is no easy task. It requires time and effort. So much so that at one time we outsourced the entire task to a professional class called ‘journalists’ and would pay good money for their services. That was the good old days though. Now, getting to the truth sadly requires some homework.
If we swallow wholly what we are sold, we might believe that the Anti-vaxxers (yes, you spell it with XX’s now) are a loose alliance of alt-right conspiracy theorists. They propagate their misinformation on Telegram and other sites, which is also where they hatch their insidious terror plots, their motivations remaining unclear to rational human beings…
In an amateurish attempt at journalism I joined several of their groups. Partly this was to learn about their protests, which the BBC seemed barely to report at all on, but also to try and learn who they actually were.
No one is without bias, and I do not claim to be so. I have though tried to be as neutral as I can here.
The first thing I learned was that the name ‘anti-vaxxer’ is a misnomer. While it accurately applies to many of them, it does not represent them all. Many simply do not want the Covid-vax. They are not necessarily against the mumps vaccine, for instance. Some even have had the Covid-vax, but do not believe others should be coerced into taking it, much less lose their job over it. This no more makes you an anti-vaxxer than not eating veal makes you a vegan.
That said, some are what you would previously call an ‘anti-vaxxer’, that is, someone who is against all vaccines. Although, it worth noting, many of this sub-group seem to be ‘new’ anti-vaxxers. By this I mean the events of the past 18 months have pushed them to this extreme.
The alt-right accusation proved very misleading. Yes there were a few hard core racist types, but not necessarily any more than you would find on any uncensored platform. If ever these individuals would voice their prejudices then they would usually be either ignored or criticised by other members of the group. ‘Nazi’ is used as a favoured insult toward pro-lockdown politicians.
There were a few individuals who advocated violence, but these were in the minority and it was hard to determine if they were simply venting.
The largest political umbrella you could place these people under would be anti-establishment. There is nothing particularly right-wing about this. In fact, most of them seem to profess a strong anti-corporate stance which makes them come across as very left-wing.
The main point here is that they are NOT united by an over-arching political ideology. In fact, around half seemed to be made up of hippies (pro-organic, crystal healing, etc) and angry apolitical parents (mostly mums who didn’t want the jab for their kids).
Violent terrorist groups tend universally to be predominantly young males. This was not what I saw in these groups. While it is sometimes difficult to determine gender, I would say there was roughly a 60/40%, or possibly an even, male/female split. As I mentioned above, many appeared to be fearful parents.
Their average age seemed to be significantly older than, for instance, the more favourably publicised climate-action groups.
Race is a difficult thing to tell online, but as far as I could see, the racial mix was either representative of the wider populace or possibly even more mixed. There were plenty of non-white thought-leaders that these groups would repeatedly reference and seem to hold in high regard. The point here being that any accusations of racial supremacist motivations are easily refuted.
They also seemed to be a higher than average Christian presence in the group, but the groups were not dominated by this view. I focused a lot on groups in the UK, as I am from there. The UK has a substantial Christian population of recent African or Afro-Caribbean origin, which seems to have a significant presence in these groups.
As with any social media, the least educated seem to be the most vocal. These groups were no exception. But that is not to say that this characterises the group as a whole. Yes, while insane conspiracies were frequently shared, so too were links to peer reviewed articles and sound statistics.
It seems they are struggling to understand what is happening. The mainstream narrative is not being supported by what they are seeing with their own eyes. As such, many of them seem to resort to extreme conspiracies in the absence of any better explanation.
So yes, conspiracy theories abound. This is true. But it is not accurate to say that the groups are motivated by these or that their cause is based solely upon them. Oddly enough, many of the conspiracy theories I saw shared were not specifically around Covid or even had any discernible connection with Covid. There were for instance occasional flat-earthers. These people would sometimes be ignored, sometimes mocked.
In general, they seem more inclined to trust the-view-from-the-trenches, rather than that of authority figures. e.g. they’ll sooner accept something said by a frontline nurse than someone like Fauci. This is not in itself ‘unscientific’, but because of the heavily institutionalised nature of science today, it can sometimes appear so.
Theories on Covid are a free for all, with the more extreme theories being the loudest. However, the claim that ‘none of them believe Covid is real’ is false. Many of them don’t, but many of them do. They debate the origins and severity as well as whether or not the vaccines are harmful, and to what degree. Sometimes these debates can be sources of fierce disagreement, but this does not seem to significantly divide the groups.
My most significant observation was that attempts to pigeon-hole this group in to a class of usual suspects e.g. the ‘alt-right’, is false. Not only that, anyone claiming this cannot have done any significant amount of research to reach their conclusion.
These groups, all of them, seem scared to one degree or another. Scared of persecution, scared that they’ll lose their job, scared of the police on their streets, scared that their kids will be forcibly injected, scared of ‘the way things are going’ or even scared of some absurd supernatural conspiracy.
The only things that unite and motivate these groups are exactly what they themselves claim. They oppose mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations. They oppose lockdowns. They oppose the loss of bodily autonomy. No more, no less. Whether or not you agree with them is a different matter, but if you choose to engage, disregard any labels you may have heard applied to them in the mainstream.
DYOR. https://t.me/freedomdirectory is one place to start as it included links to other groups.