Daisuke Wakabayashi, Davey Alba and Marc Tracy, reporting for The New York Times:
In a 2015 speech, Bill Gates warned that the greatest risk to humanity was not nuclear war but an infectious virus that could threaten the lives of millions of people.
That speech has resurfaced in recent weeks with 25 million new views on YouTube — but not in the way that Mr. Gates probably intended. Anti-vaccinators, members of the conspiracy group QAnon and right-wing pundits have instead seized on the video as evidence that one of the world’s richest men planned to use a pandemic to wrest control of the global health system.
Mr. Gates, 64, the Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist, has now become the star of an explosion of conspiracy theories about the coronavirus outbreak. In posts on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, he is being falsely portrayed as the creator of Covid-19, as a profiteer from a virus vaccine, and as part of a dastardly plot to use the illness to cull or surveil the global population.
Those of us on the sane side of the aisle have been angrily frustrated for years by the anti-vaccination nutters and the soap boxes they’ve carved out online and even on TV. It was bad enough when their unfounded anti-science nonsense brought back small outbreaks of measles. There have been real consequences from the anti-vaccine movement to date, but they’ve largely been abstract. Now it’s real — there’s an out-of-control pandemic and we’re desperately in need of a vaccine for it.
It seems inevitable that anti-vaxxer bullshit is going to depress the number of people who will get an eventual COVID-19 vaccination, and that is both incredibly frustrating and terrifying.
These are the same type of lunatics who, pre-internet, would yank out their own dental fillings and wrap their heads in aluminum foil to “block“ mind-control radio transmissions sent by The Trilateral Commission. Now they think Bill Gates wants to put population-control “microchips” in vaccines. And they’re going to hurt us all. Social media platforms should treat anti-vaccination rhetoric as a hate crime and ban it. It’s every bit as dangerous as an incitement to violence. You can’t reason with anti-vaxxers any more than you can reason with Nazis. What works is shame — shame them.
★ Friday, 17 April 2020