A FEW DAYS AGO Boris Johnson said we should have a “national conversation” on the topic of vaccine mandates. Of all the things that he has said this was probably the most heart-breaking.
Britain, you see, shines bright when you are far from home. Even more so when the continent is fast sinking into a dystopian nightmare.
In Austria where I currently live with my family, the government started to work on the implementation a “vaccine mandate” by February 1st 2022.
When the law was mooted on December 1st, the country’s Constitutional Minister, Karoline Edtstadler, thought that the new law would be unconstitutional. She said “the introduction of general compulsory vaccination naturally encroaches on fundamental rights”, adding “but it is necessary”.
In the meantime, the draft legislation has circulated.
The government is proposing fines of up to EUR 3600. If these go unpaid, the unvaccinated will find themselves in jail for four weeks. Fines of EUR 7200 have been proposed for recalcitrant recidivists.
The law is not yet on the books and yet the effects on families, friendships and the society at large have been devastating.
People, who two weeks ago, were true friends now tell you to your face that you should leave the country.
They add that, in a French Jacobin undertone, you must comply for the general good. “Solidarity” is at stake.
The fact that you pay taxes, obey the law, are a good neighbour makes not a blind bit of difference.
Your individual circumstances do not matter. The fact that the new wave is already in decline; that the survival rate of COVID is 99.87%; and you, personally, are not in the danger zone, doesn’t wash. You must comply. You are a non-person if you don’t.
Being immunised, you see, is not enough. And even if you were, the immunisation only lasts three months.
But what does “being vaccinated” mean?
According to Salzburg medicine man, Richard Greil, it means three to four jabs – in a year.
But why the insistence when close to three quarters of the population in Austria and Germany are already vaccinated and the results are no different to that of their neighbours?
What happens though if one of member of your family, whom you love, is reluctant to take the vaccine and you are not? Both of you are ostracised.
If the choice is between a close relative and a distant politician, naturally, most of us would choose our kith and kin.
It might come as a surprise to many politicians and bureaucrats but families are not made up of uniform characters. Each member is his or her own person, as it should be.
In Austria, and now in Germany, the government is proposing to interpose itself between each member and force families to decide one way or the other.
The most obvious victim of this mandate is civility.
Suspicion lurks. Each conversation starts with the dreaded questions: “Are you vaxed”?
If, out of personal reasons, you choose to deflect, you immediately become a marked personal, subjected to bullying and incessant badgering.
In Germany a report in Die Welt, a German newspaper, tells of children in class being summoned one by one to the front of the class. Once there, they are asked about their vaccination status.
If they say they are vaccinated, double jabbed or on the way to their third shot at the mere age of 15, they are applauded; if they are not, they have to justify themselves.
This type of humiliation is disastrous for the long term viability of civil society.
In Mainz, the “wristband solution” is being implemented. These will be given out to shoppers who are either vaccinated or immune. Those, who are neither, but test negative, won’t be allowed to shop, apart from essentials in supermarkets and pharmacies.
There are some dissenting voices in both countries. Vienna saw twenty seven demonstrations last weekend. Other cities across the Teutonic world have seen large protests too. These bring together people from all walks of life, but the decision was already made. And the media, outrageously, brands them “extreme right” when nothing could be further from the truth.
The substantial minority is becoming an expedient whipping boy.
Britain must not follow suit.
If Johnson is going to have a discussion on the topic, let it be based on observable developments in Austria and Germany.
For those who can see where this is going, they should do what they can to make sure that Britain remains the beacon of hope in an ever darkening world and avoid wielding the state’s hammer to smash our fragile freedoms.