The Refusenik Wannabes

I used to be one of those people who tried to do too many things at once. Over time, I have simplified my approach to life. I strive to do one thing at a time, do it well, then move on. It doesn’t always work out that way but it’s a worthy aspiration. Life is hard enough without over-complicating it.

I feel an early musical interlude coming on:

That brings me to the curious case of the Refusenik Wannabes. In the Soviet Union, dissidents were called refuseniks, especially Jews who were denied permission to emigrate. I’m using the term in the broadest sense possible. Besides, it’s an analogy, so cut me some slack, jack.

The refuseniks were lionized in the West but many were thrown into mental institutions in the USSR. The state viewed those who rejected the status quo as mentally ill; at least they claimed to. The governing communist party was as hypocritical as the current American party of stupidity and sedition. So it goes.

As the pandemic grinds on, there’s a group of people who will do anything to avoid getting jabbed. They’ll spend thousands of dollars on bogus treatments instead of getting a free shot of Pfizer, Moderna or J&J. They think that it’s an act of political courage to defy the status quo. It’s really an act of self-destructive stupidity. Hence my new nickname for them: the Refusenik Wannabes.

These anti-vaxxers think that they’re striking a blow for freedom, man; instead, they’re risking their lives and those of others in an act of supreme selfishness. Soviet refuseniks hoped to break the grip of oppression for everyone or at the very least emigrate. Dissidents such as Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn were willing to sacrifice a cushy life as members of the elite in order to change their society. In contrast, the Refusenik Wannabes want their fifteen-minutes of viral fame and glory. Freedom, man.

There’s a perverse irony at work here. The big shots who are urging the Refusenik Wannabes to resist getting jabbed have all been vaccinated. Fox News has one of those vaccine mandates they decry when imposed elsewhere. Right-wing hypocrisy has never been so blatant as it is now. And that’s saying a great deal.

Mistrust of the government is as American as apple pie. Rebellion has long been embraced by both the right and left. The Beatniks were rebelling against the status quo in the Fifties even though it was unclear what they wanted. It’s best summed up by this scene in The Wild One:

That applies to the Refusenik Wannabes. It’s unclear what they want but they want it now, dammit.  Freedom, man.

Back to the practicality of getting jabbed. It’s much easier than being a rebel without a cause. The Refusenik Wannabes are so aggrieved that they make their lives twice as hard as they need to be,

The same goes for Sixties veterans and contemporary anti-vaxxers such as Eric Clapton and Van Morrison. They’re self-proclaimed rebels but that haven’t the foggiest notion as to what they want. It’s what happens when you over-complicate your life.

The last word goes to Three Dog Night with a song from the musical Hair. It should be just as easy to be easy as it is to be hard.