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Ron Johnson takes his anti-vaccine rhetoric to a strange new place

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Seeking re-election in November, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is doing what politicians often do on the ballot: engaging in conversations with a small audience in an effort to reach a wider range of voters .

But one video obtained from the site heart signal demonstrates some ways Johnson’s reach differs from other candidates. For one thing, he participated in a videoconference that included attorney Todd Callender, a staunch anti-vaccination commentator who is part of a trial against the Ministry of Defence. On the other hand, Johnson expressed openness to Callender’s idea that coronavirus vaccines may be a way to deliberately give people AIDS.

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Before we go any further, it’s important to note that this claim isn’t just wrong, it’s bizarre. AIDS is a disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and is not caused by vaccines. The idea that any vaccine can induce AIDS has no basis in reality.

But that wasn’t Callender’s only claim during the trade. During their conversation, he suggested the effort to increase vaccinations should be looked at “from a criminal perspective,” with advocates like the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, Anthony S. Fauci, being held “responsible”.

“You have over 100 doctors here, all of whom will tell you that these injections caused vaccine-induced AIDS. They intentionally gave people AIDS,” Callender claimed without any basis. He referenced other conspiracy theories which, frankly, are difficult to analyze without being immersed in the surreal universe from which they came. But his argument was that the government was trying to hurt people on purpose.

“They knew all of this, and yet they allowed these injections anyway,” he said of the Food and Drug Administration. “…It’s criminal intent.”

“So let me challenge you there,” he said. The challenge? Not on the idea that vaccines cause AIDS or that the FDA was criminally irresponsible in its efforts to get people vaccinated. Rather, his challenge was that you couldn’t just “jump to crimes against humanity. You can’t jump to another Nuremberg trial. You must strive to bring criminals to justice on the world stage slowly.

“You have to take it one step at a time,” Johnson said. “Everything you say may be true, but right now the public considers vaccines to be largely safe and effective, that vaccine-related injuries are rare and mild. This is the story. This is what the vast majority of the public accepts. So, until we get a bigger percentage of the population with their eyes open, for: Whoa, those vaccine injuries are real. Why? You have to do it step by step. »

“Anything you say may be true,” a US senator has told a lawyer who has speculated that coronavirus vaccines are intentionally given to give Americans AIDS.

Even beyond that, however, Johnson’s comment stands out from other politicians. Most politicians and government officials would see this as a Well thing the public understands is that coronavirus vaccines are safe and effective. After all, they are. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that nearly a quarter of a million deaths from covid-19 could have been prevented by vaccination. Statistics consistently show that those most at risk of hospitalization and death from the disease are those who have not been vaccinated or who have not received booster doses.

But Johnson has long fueled skepticism about that reality. Its mention of “vaccine injuries” refers to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database used by the government for medical professionals to track incidents in which vaccinations were followed by possible side effects. The database is a tool for the government to ensure that vaccines remain safe even in the event of large-scale deployment, but it also provides a database of anecdotes that can be extracted to raise fears about vaccines. .

Johnson has done it before. Last October, he appeared on Maria Bartiromo’s Fox Business show and alleged that more than 16,000 people had died after vaccination – a claim that both assumes that the VAERS reports are accurate (since anyone who can submit a VAERS report) and that the vaccine actually leads to the death. That’s the thing with these reports: if I get vaccinated today and am struck by lightning tomorrow, that’s a report. And in fact, it really happened because Moderna’s vaccine trials were in the field. Someone who had participated was struck by lightning a month later, and Moderna included that report in its assessment of the vaccine trial. VAERS works the same way, but no one assumes the vaccine caused the stroke.

At least no one should suppose that. Johnson was raising the issue to Bartiromo, incidentally, in defense of ivermectin, a drug that has been shown to have no discernible effect in treating covid-19. At other times, he has publicly questioned why anyone would want people to be vaccinated if they were vaccinated themselves (because we hope to limit the spread of the virus) and why immunity from contracting the virus is not as good as being vaccinated (because being infected with the virus can kill you).

We contacted Johnson’s office, who dismissed the excerpt obtained by Heartland Signal as “an edited recording of a selective portion of the call made to falsely portray and misrepresent the senator’s remarks.” His office also argued that Johnson’s “let me challenge you there” was that Johnson was pushing back on the request for an HIV vaccine, which the full context of the exchange makes clear is not the case. (Johnson “has never stated and has no reason to believe that the vaccine causes HIV,” his office said.) His office also argued that Johnson believes “the VAERS safety reporting system has been ignored by federal health officials and the Biden administration.”

“He believes vaccine injuries are real, some are serious and need to be fully investigated – which has not been the case to date,” the office said. Johnson. In reality, many have been.

Keep in mind how weird this is. Candidates do small interviews with niche audiences to pitch their candidacies to their constituents. Johnson took part in a call that included a Colorado-based lawyer where he nodded to bizarre and inexplicable conspiracy theories, then expressed his wish that people had less faith in a vaccine that has already saved a number countless lives.

It’s a weird re-election strategy, of course. In a recent surveymore Wisconsin residents viewed Johnson unfavorably than favorably, a trend that has continued since last summer.