Letter to Gavin Newsom 12/18/20

The following is a Covid19-related letter sent to California governor Gavin Newsom on 12/18/20. See the Covid19 page for the background details.

Dear Governor Newsom:

The COVID vaccine won't work if people don't take it. Unfortunately, you and other leaders have already begun to engage in behaviors that will discourage people from taking the vaccine.

Those counter-productive behaviors include but are not limited to:
* politicizing the pandemic,
* racializing the pandemic, and
* engaging in any form of censorship or cover-up.

As even The Atlantic admitted, "Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture". And, affirmative action has been soundly rejected by California voters twice (Propositions 209 and 16).

Yet, some leaders are pushing for non-whites to be given the vaccine first. That's immoral (deciding that one race should live while another should die) and it's racist (imagine if you declared that whites should receive the vaccine first).

The first person to receive the vaccine in the U.S. after it received the EUA is black. You highlighted the first such person in California, a Hispanic.

That racialization hasn’t gone unnoticed. As user @ogzyuno replied to you on Twitter, "Damn they’re gonna roll out minorities like a petting zoo to try and get us to take it lol". And, @Opheliasfennel replied “So basically you’re using a Latina as the first guinea pig?! Why don’t you take it live?”

Any sort of racialization will make this a political issue, eroding public trust and reducing the numbers who take the vaccine. It will also remind minority groups of the Tuskegee Study and similar. By discriminating for some groups, you will reduce the likelihood that the group you favor will take the vaccine.

Likewise with any other kind of politicization: you need Republicans, independents, and others to take the vaccine.

Anything that alienates specific groups will mean the vaccine won’t help us obtain herd immunity.

You might seek to hide unequal treatment behind a euphemism such as “equitable”, but that won’t work because who is getting the vaccine will be obvious.

Any attempt at racial discrimination will likely result in very high-profile lawsuits, delaying distribution of the vaccine and further empowering your opponents.

Of course, there are many areas in California that don’t have ready access to CVS and Walgreens. The solution to that is to use schools and other community centers as distribution points. As long as that is handled in a truly equitable fashion (not involving racial or political discrimination), few could object.

Another way you can erode public confidence is by engaging in any form of censorship. Most people distrust politicians and other leaders. In many cases that’s justified (for instance, the World Health Organization spent weeks suggesting social distancing of only three feet and only from the symptomatic).

You might think that censorship is the solution, but it never is: it will simply lead to further distrust. You can’t strong-arm enough people into taking the vaccine.

If, for instance, Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter censor discussions of the side-effects of the vaccine or any other dissent, that means most people will realize they aren’t being given the full picture, that they’re being treated like children, and that you and your allies are trying to force them into taking something potentially dangerous.

The correct way to handle dissent is debate. If you want the vaccine and thus your administration to be a success, you need to engage all opponents in debate and attempt to show them wrong, or find proxies capable of doing that. Strong-arm tactics won’t convince people, only truly open debate and transparency will.