“To many medical providers working today, the rejection of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines feels like a giant “Fuck you” from 29 percent of American adults.”
Media outlets like the Atlantic under-estimate the extent to which medical people and their research are suspected by white conservatives–especially in deep rural areas like my area of Eastern KY, my hometown of Waverly, NY, or Northern PA where men and women both sides of my family settled in the 1700’s.
Doctors and pharmacists are often viewed as “outsiders” and bear a stigma of “not being one of us” in a place where being “one of us” is important. That’s even more the case when medical people are from places like India, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and especially when they aren’t white. The sense of medical people as outsiders in this part of Kentucky is increased by the lengthy education of MD’s in a region where barely 10% of the population has undergraduate degrees in most counties. There is also a felt opposition between medicine and evangelical religion and an association of science with “liberalism” that’s looked on with suspicion as well.
However, the FU being given by white conservatives to vaccines is a deeply felt rejection of American “society” as it’s developed over the last 20 years. First black president, gay marriage, Black Lives Matter, women in the military, “Me too,” trans rights, climate change, the environment,–Billy Joel could write another version of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” about everything that bothers white conservatives about America but it all adds up to America becoming a foreign country that conservatives especially hate because they think it used to be theirs. In the sense, white conservatives are saying FU to the vaccine as a way of saying FU to America (while waving the flag).