Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.
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Reprinted with permission from AlterNet
Anti-vaxxers have taken conspiracy theories to a new level with their latest attempt to convince unvaccinated COVID patients to leave hospital intensive care units.
According to NBC News, conspiracy theorists are circulating serious allegations about doctors treating COVID patients. The publication reports that they claim doctors are "preventing unvaccinated patients from receiving miracle cures or are even killing them on purpose."
Ivermectin enthusiasts and anti-vaxxers have also been spreading misinformation in Facebook groups telling COVID positive individuals to "stay away from hospitals and instead try increasingly dangerous at-home treatments."
NBC notes that the disturbing claims underscore "the escalation in mistrust" of the scientific community and medical professionals. The misinformation epidemic has grown worse over the last several months with the rise of the rapidly spreading Delta variant of COVID-19. Doctors and nurses in hospital systems across the country have also expressed concern about the rise in misinformation amid the resurgence of COVID.
Wes Ely, an ICU doctor and professor Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, revealed how their intensive care has changed over the last month with the rise in severe cases among the unvaccinated.
"We were down to four Covid patients two months ago. In this surge, we've had 40 to 50 patients with Covid on four different ICU services, 97 percent of them unvaccinated," said Ely. "We were making headway, and now we're just losing really, really badly. There's something that's happening on the internet, and it's dramatically increasing steam."
Harvard Medical School physician Aditi Nerurkar also expressed deep concern about what she describes as "vigilante medicine": a decision "wherein patients are deferring potentially lifesaving care from doctors to try unproven cures pushed on Facebook."
"It's vigilante medicine: medicine being practiced by laypeople who are reading groups created by other laypeople in echo chambers and silos that, likely, someone in the anti-vax movement is profiting from," she said.
Although social media has become the central hub for misinformation, Facebook insists it is fighting back against the spread of false information.
"We remove content that attempts to buy, sell, or donate for Ivermectin," a Facebook spokesperson confirmed in an emailed statement. "We also enforce against any account or group that violates our COVID-19 and vaccine policies, including claims that Ivermectin is a guaranteed cure or guaranteed prevention, and we don't allow ads promoting Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19."
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Reprinted with permission from AlterNet
Members of the Oath Keepers — along with QAnon and the Proud Boys — were among the far-right extremists who, according to the FBI, were involved in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building. The role that the Oath Keepers played in the Capitol insurrection is the focus of a report by PolitiFact's Samantha Putterman, who examines their activities before and during the attack.
"Of approximately 40 people facing conspiracy charges as of early September, 19 were associated with the far-right Oath Keepers militia, according to PolitiFact's review of court files," Putterman explains. "Another 17 were affiliated with the Proud Boys extremist group. As part of PolitiFact's ongoing look at how misinformation fueled the events of January 6, we examined the case files of defendants associated with Oath Keepers and found they tell a story of preparation, communication and structure."
Putterman reports that on November 9, following the 2020 election, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes "called on members to go to Washington, D.C."
Rhodes told them, "We're going to defend the president, the duly elected president, and we call on him to do what needs to be done to save our country. Because if you don't, guys, you're going to be in a bloody, bloody civil war, and a bloody — you can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or fight."
According to Putterman, "Rhodes warned his followers during that November 9 meeting to come prepared to fight Antifa, a left-wing, anti-fascist movement, according to court documents that show he asked some to come fully armed."Court filings show that Kelly Meggs, leader of the Florida Oath Keepers, was also preparing for violent confrontations with Antifa. On December 19, Meggs visited Facebook and wrote, "We will come in behind Antifa and beat the hell out of them."
By December 31, Putterman reports, "Meggs and others had joined an invitation-only encrypted group on the messaging app Signal, court documents show. They titled their group 'DC OP: Jan 6 21.' They participated in online meetings and used that channel as well as other encrypted communications to coordinate their plans. One man pledged in the encrypted chat that he would bring an assault rifle and a backpack full of ammunition if 's--t truly' hit the fan."
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