#30 of Podcast: Conversation with Addison Reeves

#30 of Podcast: Conversation with Addison Reeves

I have another conversation with Addison Reeves from Modern Heretic about the introduction of medical apartheid in NYC. We talk about how shocked we are by the city’s embrace of these measures, which disproportionately discriminate against minority communities.

Check out Addison’s powerful essay in Off-Guardian: “It’s Just…Why I Won’t Comply

Radically Human; Episode #30. / / Youtube link

Send a voice message @ https://anchor.fm/frieda-vizel/message


TRANSCRIPT:

Frieda Vizel

In today’s episode, I talk again with Addison Reeves from the blog, Modern Heretic. Addison is a fellow New Yorker. And we got together to talk about the very concerning recent developments of vaccine mandates in the city and state of New York, which will impact employment, education, dining, entertainment, gyms, and pretty much every aspect of life. We talked the other night after a long day of work for both of us, and the conversation ended up going on for quite some time. So, this discussion became a two-part series. And in part one, we talk about the inherent imperialism of the vaccine mandates and its devastating consequences for the city.

I want to just, I want to try to talk about what’s happening as it’s happening and have a bit of a reflection because I find that you’re in tune with what’s happening in New York City. And there’s, of course, things going on all over the world, but I want to talk about specifically the city which we’re both sort of watching.

Addison Reeves

Yes. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know where you want to start, because so much has happened in just the last week alone. So, should we take it one announcement at a time? Or should we start with a general overview of how we even got to this place? I don’t know where you want to start.

Frieda Vizel

…It’s the 5th. So, it’s August 5th. And in the last few weeks, a lot has happened in New York City. Although it doesn’t feel like it. If you walk the streets, it feels like nothing happened.

Addison Reeves

That’s what is so bizarre about this. It’s so surreal to me. I constantly feel like I’m being gaslighted with nothing has changed in my life or the lives of the people around me as far as I can see. And I think that’s what is so frustrating, people are getting all of their… they’re ignoring their own sense of reality. They’re ignoring their own perceptions, and only focusing on what they’re being told by news media. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t get some information from news media. But I think there is a problem when we rely on it exclusively and completely eliminate our own perceptions, and we don’t give our own perceptions credence. So, I’m shocked that we’re in this position right now where, yes, okay, there’s a virus going around. Yes, it’s affecting people. Yes, people are dying from it. But that happens all the time for all viruses. You could definitely do the same thing with the flu virus. If you wanted to observe the flu virus, you can meticulously track it, you could find out when there’s a variant, and you could track that and see that more people are getting more cases from that variant, and oh, my god, these people who are already immunocompromised or elderly are sick, they’re dying from it. And it’s a huge problem. Like you could do that with anything if you want to, you can track it enough. And there’s this obsession with quantification and observation and tracking things that make something a problem that might not necessarily be a problem. So we weren’t, if we didn’t know all of this, if we hadn’t ever heard about this virus, most of us would have gone on with our lives not knowing any better. And those of us who got a mild case would have just thought we had the flu. And some people, yes, some people would have died. And that was always, of course, very sad. And those people would have grieved. But I don’t think people just going through their day-to-day lives would have put together that there’s some kind of emergency situation.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, yeah. But I mean, of course, I saw this first with a measles outbreak. And I’ve told you this a few times, the measles outbreak in the Hasidic community in 2019 floored me because they were running these numbers of kids who came down with the measles outside of any context. Five more cases. What do you mean five more? Five more in context of what? What’s the historical context? What is the story with these children? Are they fine? What…?

Addison Reeves

That has been my pet peeve throughout this entire pandemic. It’s so far removed from context. So, all the past year and a half plus, I’ve heard, oh, my god cases are rising, cases are rising! But what does that mean? Like what is a case? A case means somebody either tested positive or was sick and were suspected of being sick, but that doesn’t mean that those people died. Most of them didn’t. That doesn’t mean it was a serious illness. For most people, it isn’t. For most people it is mild. And when you think about it, I had COVID, it was a very mild for me; it was like a flu. And then I got tested after I recovered in order to go work because they wanted to make sure I was safe. And that’s when we found out, oh, I tested positive, and I had to quarantine. But I hated the idea that I was adding another data point to this narrative of, oh my god, this is such a huge emergency because it wasn’t an emergency for me. It was a very mild case. And I recovered and by the time they found out, by the time they added my case to the count, it was done. It was over.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, you’re a young, healthy person.

Addison Reeves

Yes. And so, most of these cases, I think I mentioned to you earlier, the New York Times had this headline, breaking news, we just surpassed, you know, however many cases, 2 million, I don’t even know the number because I’m not paying attention. But the point is, yes, fine, we surpassed this many cases, but by now, most of those people, you know, they’re still alive, they’ve survived, they’re doing better. So, what does that even mean? The number itself is a meaningless statistic.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, I think the number is catnip for people who have a very surface interest in the narrative, only so much so they can keep looking away from anything that is more sinister. And it’s like, oh, now we have this number. Someone in my life now is constantly criticizing that I’m resisting the pandemic situation. And it’s like but so many people have died. And it becomes a slogan that shuts down the conversation. It’s like a dogma. It reminds me very much of religious dogma, like this is apostasy. And that’s where the conversation ends.

Addison Reeves

Yes. And that is exactly why last year when I started the blog, I named it Modern Heretic. Because I felt the same way that there’s this religion out there, and I’m going contrary to this religion, and people might want to punish me for it. And I feel exactly the same way. And I think, I don’t know if it’s about not wanting to go deeper, I think a lot of it has to do with people who are really bad at statistics. I am not great at statistics. But you know, I know enough. I know that if you give me this number, I have to figure out what the context is for this number. I’m not going to take this number by itself. So, the first thing I looked at when I heard that people were dying was like, okay, well, what percentage of people who get this are going to die. I need to know that if I’m going to know how seriously to take it. And people don’t really seem to care about that. And as a result, people seem to think that this virus is much more fatal than it is. I remember having a conversation with my dad, who is much on the opposite end of the spectrum on this topic than I am. And he was telling me how serious it is, and all these people are dying, and you know, whatever else the talking points were at the time, and I said to him but you realize the survival rate for this virus is 99 point, you know, whatever percentage, and he’s like, well, I don’t know anything about that. He’s watching the news religiously. He knows the case numbers off the top of his head. He knows, you know, how many people died off the top of his head, but he doesn’t know the most crucial fact which is that most people survive this.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, the denominator, the number of people who come through this okay, relative to… and in general, life is essentially a process of dying. You know, New York City supposedly was Ground Zero from… you’re laughing. It was supposedly Ground Zero. But I think now it is Ground Zero for a very  different battle. And I think it’s interesting because you think maybe California or LA or whatever, or Silicon Valley rather, would be the headquarters of this happening. But I think it’s going to really take root here first, all of these new technocratic systems. So, let’s talk about what happened the last few weeks that they’ve been rolling out here.

Addison Reeves

Before we even get into that, maybe just a little overview because I know I kind of felt slow rolled on this one, because a few months ago, Andrew Cuomo, Governor Cuomo announced his Excelsior pass program, his passport, it’s a health passport where you get to show that you’re immunized. And that’s supposed to get you into various places like concerts and sporting events. So, I already knew that he had rolled that out months ago. But then there was a lot of talk about how it wasn’t very effective. It wasn’t working properly. And then they dropped the mask mandate here. And things seemed to be getting back to normal this summer. So, I thought maybe we were in the clear. And that clearly was not the case. So, I thought once they had dropped the mask mandate, and they weren’t asking people for proof of vaccination, I thought it was a done deal. The genie is out of the bottle, you’re not going to be able to get people back now to showing proof to be unmasked or anything like that. But last week, first, I think it was Mayor de Blasio who announced that city workers, all city workers, are going to have to be vaccinated or get tested weekly unless you’re a healthcare worker in which you just have to be vaccinated, there’s no exception.

Frieda Vizel

You get fired if you’re not.

Addison Reeves

Yes. And then the next, I think it was the next day or two days later, Governor Cuomo announced the same for public employees, that public employees have to be vaccinated or get tested regularly, and I think it’s the same requirements that healthcare employees have no choice, they have to be vaccinated. And then, just a few days ago, Mayor de Blasio announced that this is also going to extend to patronage of businesses. So, that’ll be businesses, gyms, restaurants, and theater, concerts. That’s what we know so far, that they’re going to try to get these businesses to use – not try, I think it is going to be forced because the letter you shared showed that they’re going to take enforcement action and they’re going to be inspecting these businesses. So, there probably will be some punitive measures for the businesses attached to this.

Frieda Vizel

Businesses that don’t… It’s going to be not on a voluntary basis or not on recommendation basis, but rather, businesses will have to be equipped to comply with these rules, which is essentially all entertainment, fitness, health, dining.

Addison Reeves

Yes, and we don’t know what else, where else this might lead. For all we know, in the future, this could also affect grocery stores or banking. We don’t know.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, you ran out, you bought…

Addison Reeves

Yeah, so I feel like the world… the world as I know it has collapsed around me. I can’t really count on anything anymore. I can’t really count on society or these institutions. Because it seems like the social contract that we have is being renegotiated unilaterally and I don’t have a say. So, I don’t know what I’m going to be excluded from. I know it’s in the works right now that I won’t be able to go to gyms or theater or restaurants. I won’t be able to do indoor dining, I don’t know if it’s going to be take-out, I don’t know what options are going to be available to me. But my concern was, if they really want to push this and really want to force everyone to get vaccinated, they may soon extend this to grocery stores. And that would be a huge problem because I want to-

Frieda Vizel

You have to eat.

Addison Reeves

Yeah, I have to eat, exactly. And my friend, one of my coworkers was saying to me that she feels like this is all a plan just to get us all to use more online shopping and to outsource all of our… so all of us unvaccinated people will have to buy our supplies online, which is part of the plan. That’s what she was saying.

Frieda Vizel

I mean, I’m sure there are companies that are already imagining they’ll earn a profit off of this.

Addison Reeves

I would not be surprised if Amazon was in the background pushing governments to make these policies with an eye towards oh, we’re going to get more people shopping online. I wouldn’t be surprised. Not saying that that’s happened. It’s speculative. But it wouldn’t surprise me.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, but let’s put it this way, there are certainly economic interests, there are economic opportunities in creating a society in which a lot of us can’t access a lot of necessary parts of life, except if we do it online.

Addison Reeves

Yeah. I feel like we are speaking about this very calmly. I don’t know if we’re conveying the outrageousness of this. I can’t fully fathom it, that this city which purports to be so liberal and so oriented towards social justice and so concerned with the plight of minorities and inequalities is now creating a group of, a large class of people who are now going to be second class citizens. And a lot of those people are going to be people of color because the vaccination rates are lower among people of color for good reasons, I think. And we are creating a system of apartheid that doesn’t necessarily fall neatly along color lines, but there’s definitely a disparate impact there. And nobody seems to be talking about that very much. And it’s just crazy to me that we are instituting segregation in New York City in 2021.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, I was telling you that I was in Times Square the night that they issued these new, well, they were going to be, I suppose, requirements for businesses where they were essentially saying we’re rolling out these… we’re not going to allow you to go to the gym, we’re not going to allow you to dine. And, you know, it was a tiny protest. There were so many cops there that I had the sense that the city was almost expecting a backlash. The New York Times had covered the protests in France so there is an awareness that there’s a large cohort of people around the world that are not okay with it. And they probably were expecting something to go down here.

Addison Reeves

What a shame that it didn’t.

Frieda Vizel

But instead, you have… you know, it feels like absolutely normal everywhere. Like people are unphased, like nothing has happened. If you ask people what do you think of the mandates, it is like a shrug.

Addison Reeves

And you know, so like I said at the beginning, where things seem to be loosening up, there was a mild attempt, I guess, to try to create distinctions between vaccinated and unvaccinated. And when they weren’t trying to enforce the passport as thoroughly in the beginning, I thought, okay, maybe this is going to fail because they’re going to be people who are going to want to go to a birthday dinner and they’re going to have friends and family who are unvaccinated, and they’re going to want to keep them together. So just for that reason alone, it’s going to be impractical. But I don’t think that’s the case anymore. The way I see this unfolding and the reactions I’ve seen and the tenor of the conversation, at least in my social network, it seems like we are so polarized at this point and that people who are not vaccinated have been so dehumanized that I don’t think it’s going to be a concern for these people. At least, I don’t know if the people in my network are representative, but if they are, it’s frightening. They don’t seem to care at all. They don’t seem to have any empathy or understanding for people who are unvaccinated.

Frieda Vizel

I don’t think I know anyone who I didn’t get to know through this activism who cares. I don’t think I know anyone who is simply a friend from the past who says this is a concern to me. Everyone I either know through our getting to know each other through activism, already coming together with concern for this particular issue. Or they just think it’s a non-issue, just get vaccinated.

Addison Reeves

Here’s the thing. So, I work in civil rights. I am shocked and appalled to see that it is a non-issue in the Civil Rights field where I work. So, I would expect some people, even if they’re scared, even if on some level, they want this discriminatory action to take place, I would expect that they would recognize the issues involved, the civil rights issues inherent in this decision to treat people who are unvaccinated completely differently. And they don’t. There’s no acknowledgement. People are just going along with it and acting like this is a normal rational decision, as opposed to what I believe will be a severe violation of human rights.

Frieda Vizel

Right. And you were talking about the disparity, like if you look at the map who is vaccinated, it’s the very predominantly white neighborhoods – East New York, the Bronx, those are the places that the vaccination rates are low.

Addison Reeves

It just kills me to think that all the people who last year were out in the streets with their Black Lives Matter signs and the people who have the Black Lives Matter signs in their window and the people who blacked out their profile pictures on Instagram, that all those people now are pushing to get people of color forcibly vaccinated. It kills me.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, but what does it take to put a poster in your window? It drove me crazy last year, I walk my dog in Ditmas Park neighborhood, and it’s beautiful, old houses, millions of dollars each house, and they say thank you essential workers, Biden/Harris. And of course, Black Lives Matter, all of them, a huge Black Lives Matter. Your predominantly white neighborhood in an entirely unaffordable part of Brooklyn. Like the rest of us are squeezed in sardine boxes in prewar buildings in the other part, and you don’t see Black Lives Matter signs in our windows. But you know, I always felt like I can’t say anything because I don’t… this ends up becoming a conversation where everyone is screaming racist at each other.

Addison Reeves

Yeah. And that is why I feel so strongly about needing to come out. And that’s why I expressed to you that I’m writing something right now that I think will anger people greatly and probably destroy my social network. But I feel it has to be said, because I am a Black person, in case the people listening don’t realize that. I feel like I have to say it because other people can’t say it for that exact reason. And I’m just so frustrated with how much the civil rights rhetoric has been coopted and misused and abused. So now these people, they’ve been talking about how much they care about Black people this whole time during the pandemic. Meanwhile, while they were in their cushy, very big, spacious homes, expensive homes, not going out, because they are so scared that they’re going to die if they get the virus, they had Black and Brown people going out to do all their shopping for them, to go get their Amazon deliveries, to go get their groceries, to go get their takeout food and bring it back to them. So, they had no problem with Black and Brown people risking their lives to get them the things that they needed to be comfortable. But all of a sudden, it’s a problem if those same people were to go out and socialize. That’s a problem now. And now you’re so scared that Black people are dying, and we are disproportionately affected by the virus, but you have no problem sending them out to get your groceries. And now, though you supposedly care so much about Black people, you don’t care how they feel about the vaccine. And the fact that so many of them don’t want to get vaccinated, that doesn’t say something to you that maybe you need to stop and listen? Even though all your rhetoric for years now has been about stopping and listening and not imposing your views on other people. That is all you’re doing right now is imposing your views on the Black people who are non-compliant and trying to get them to be obedient. And it pisses me off so much.

Frieda Vizel

There was this woman who was writing in the New York Times comments, which unfortunately, I read and I shouldn’t. And I get really upset because this is where you really see New Yorkers’ attitudes and what they believe. And this Asian woman says my Asian grandmother had to go get her vaccine in a Black neighborhood because there were all these extra vaccines there. But in our neighborhood, there weren’t any because the Black people weren’t getting the vaccines. So, it’s not… She was angry at the New York Times, she says New York Times, stop pretending that this is an issue of vaccine distribution or availability, this is a problem of these Black people not getting the vaccine. And I said how do you not see what you are saying?

Addison Reeves

Yeah. And so, last week I think it was, Governor Cuomo had a press conference. And I think you’ve probably seen the video, I’m not going to get the quote exactly verbatim, but it was something along the lines of he was talking about – and I the hate term – vaccine hesitancy among people of color and how they’re going to start putting resources into going into communities of color to educate the people of color, because obviously, we’re just too dumb to do what they want us to do. But they’re going to go door to door and try to help us figure things out. And he made a quote that was so sinister and scary about how they were going to physically put us into cars and take us to the vaccination site and put the vaccine in our arms. Like we have no agency, like we have no say in the matter. Like it’s not a matter of consent. It’s just something they have to do to us. And the idea that he can say this, and it’s not a huge deal, that he could talk about people like this, and nobody thinks that’s inappropriate, that’s shocking to me.

Frieda Vizel

It’s shocking. It’s not just patronizing, it’s admitting to a crime, to an attitude of mass crime – we will put people in cars, and we’ll put drugs in them and then we’ll ship them back home against their will. And nothing, you walk the streets here and you feel no difference. Life goes on, you get greeted by the same people, you don’t get greeted by the same people. It’s as if, if you bring it up, people think you’re crazy. There’s nothing happening. Oh, it’s just Cuomo being Cuomo. That’s just…

Addison Reeves

And that is what they’ve been saying the entire time. It’s so frustrating. From the beginning, I’ve been expressing my concerns to my friends who are very supportive of these lockdown measures. And I said, oh, you know, I’m scared they’re going to try to keep me from certain businesses or establishments because I’m unvaccinated, and they’re like, oh no, that’s not going to happen. Then when it does happen, they just shrug and say, you know, well, you could get vaccinated. Like what? I’m your friend, and you don’t care – supposedly, I’m your friend – and you don’t care about the fact that I’m being excluded from these businesses. And they know that I’ve had it already. So, they know I’m not a danger. But that doesn’t bother them, it doesn’t bother them that I’m being treated this way. And of course, as a Black person, I’m thinking Jim Crow, I’m thinking apartheid. I feel even though it’s not explicitly because of my race, it’s still very racial. There’s a racial component, because part of my objection to the vaccine is grounded in the way the country has treated my people for centuries. You know, and the fact that people are just ignoring that and dismissing that and saying that’s not an issue, we need to just get over it, that is so offensive.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah. I think there’s a class element to the embrace of the vaccine, which of course, if we were supposed to be very, very much rethinking racism, it would, of course, be the reason we’re rectifying all of these issues economically is because we understand that systemic racism creates these economic disparities. So, we have these economic disparities where a lot of wealthy white people are embracing the vaccine, it’s their ideology, it is their worldview, it’s inject me with all sorts of things. It’ll make me… you know, it’s their class identity is the embrace of the science institution. Enforcing their entire identity – because I believe this, you must.

Addison Reeves

Yes, that is exactly it. And it’s so disgusting to me. Because I trust government, because government’s been good to my people, you have to trust government too. It’s the intelligent response. No, fine, that’s great that you trust government. It’s great that your people haven’t been abused by government for centuries. But you can’t just force your worldview, you can’t enforce your experiences onto an entire group of people. The idea, it’s so arrogant, it’s completely, unbelievably arrogant to say that your belief system derived from your experience takes precedence over beliefs that are derived from experiences that you have no knowledge of at all.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah. But you know, in the New York Times where I have been interacting with people who have these ideas, they tend to talk differently about the Black people, because they’re sort of like we understand. Okay, the hicks, the Trumpian white people, the rednecks, they are horrible human beings, they’re, you know, they’re destroying our democracy. And they’re, you can’t fix stupid – STOOOOPID. But the Black people there is sort of this condescension that is well with them, we need to educate.

Addison Reeves

Yes. It’s another way of saying we’re stupid.

Frieda Vizel

Whatever you believe, we don’t honor that. We’re going to tell you what to believe.

Addison Reeves

Yes.

Frieda Vizel

And people actually say that because it’s in the middle of a pandemic.

Addison Reeves

Yeah. And as you know, I wrote a whole essay on the idea of imperialism, and I can’t get away from it. I can’t escape the sense that this is all just modern day imperialism, that idea that you’re going to take your beliefs and your way of life and force it onto other people, entire classes of people, many of whom are people of color, like what else is this but modern day imperialism?

Frieda Vizel

And yet they are so unaware, they’re so blissfully unaware and so hermetically closed into their class world that they don’t know, and they don’t have to know, that they, how it looks from the outside, how it looks with a perspective of history, it’s just this very narrow story that is convenient for them. And with social confirmation, it becomes bearable to keep amplifying this extremist rhetoric so that here we are. I mean, it’s absurd.

Addison Reeves

It’s so absurd. I don’t, I can’t believe we’re here. I really can’t. And I studied political science, and I studied law. And so, this is more shocking to me because the people I know in my social network, I know that they are sophisticated thinkers, I know they’re familiar with our political systems, they’re familiar with political philosophy, they’re familiar with legal principles. And they’re all going along with this. And it’s amazingly the people who should be defending our government, defending jurisprudence, defending rule of law, the people who should be trying to protect us, who have the knowledge, the expertise, and the sophistication to push back, aren’t. And I don’t know what to do about that. I don’t know what the answer is. And I was thinking we didn’t mention, one of the things that we should have probably mentioned in the beginning is, in addition to the Excelsior passport that they created, the legislature here in New York was also considering, I think, in one house, they passed a bill about people being dangerous transmitters of whatever virus and being deemed too dangerous that they need to be taken away and put into internment camps, some kind of, you know, some kind of detention camp. And that is terrifying, because especially first of all, we know how divorced this narrative is from statistics and facts and data. So, it might not take much for them to say that a person’s dangerous, just the fact that someone’s refusing a vaccination might be enough to say that that person is dangerous at this point, I don’t know. But idea that you can seize and detain somebody, that is a violation of our fourth amendment rights, our constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures, which normally you would need to have some kind of individualized probable cause in order to detain somebody, and people are just ignoring that. You know…the idea that you can mandate for a group of people, a whole class of people who aren’t proven to be a particular danger is insane. It goes against everything that we stand for, everything that our government is supposed to be. And so, the reason why this announcement last week that de Basio made about us not going into businesses is so frightening to me. It’s not just that I can’t go into this business because I don’t really care, I don’t eat out that much, you know, that itself doesn’t bother me. It’s the idea where exactly is this going to go? Could this go to a detention camp? Is there some danger that in the future, the rhetoric is going to become so inflamed that they might say I’m a danger for simply resisting and that they need to put me in a camp, and it’s been done before. During World War II, they said, you know, we just got attacked by Japan, all these Asian people are a danger. We’re afraid that, you know, some of them may be a danger, even though we don’t have individualized suspicion against any one of them, we’re just going to put them all in camps because we’re scared, and we feel like they’re danger. So, it has happened before, you know. What’s to say that the fear isn’t being so raised now that it might not happen now? Even though I don’t think this… Well, I don’t think anything warrants that level of violation of people’s rights and disregard for the Constitution. But yeah, that’s what makes this so frightening. That’s what’s heightening this for me.

Frieda Vizel

You know what, what’s really ironic is that in the last year nearly 100 years, in the last, what, 80 years since World War II, we’ve had this entire culture of entertainment designed towards rectifying all of these inequities, you know, all of these documentaries about the internment, and all of the ways of trying to tell the stories and of reckoning with injustices to certain immigrants and opening our, especially on the left supposedly, opening ourselves up to diversity and all of these reckoning with the prejudices of different people and making amends. It’s part of the upside-down world where we spent all this time creating a cultural narrative that said we’re never doing that again. We’re never making the mistake of medical experiments of lobotomies because we’ve written all of these books. And we’re not making mistakes of religious extremism because we’ve examined all that, and we’ve come all this way. And here we are.

Addison Reeves

And I think that’s part of what has shocked me, too, is just not only the people that I know and their experience and background, but yeah, I guess in some ways, I bought into this lie of progressivism, like we’ve come to a place where we know certain things are wrong. And we’re not going to do those things again because we know better now. But humans are humans. So of course, the same things that have happened throughout millennia are going to continue happening. And now it’s unfolding. And we’re seeing it in real time. And it’s so surreal to see what’s going on and to realize, okay, so this is what happened in the past, this is what was going on during the Salem Witch Trials. This is what was going on during McCarthyism. This is what was going on during the Holocaust. Like this is the type of mindset and the type of propaganda and manipulation of public opinion that led to these types of things.

Frieda Vizel

One of the things that I really feel like I’ve learned in a very real way, is how these things happen, how you are on the receiving end of them. And it feels constantly surreal, where you kind of need to pinch yourself, is it really happening for me. It was really, really hard to grasp that my son, an only child, would be forced to study for a year and a half alone and that this wouldn’t be some kind of horrible shocking… like, to me this was terribly, terribly difficult to watch. And I think to me, it shocks me. It seems abusive of the system, it seems wrong that anyone, people would say it’s fine, you can sleep in. And of course, this is on one degree, but then he’s probably going to end up in some way being discriminated in school. We don’t know what’s going to happen with his schooling. And I feel like if I end up getting evicted at some point, because like, I feel like there’s a very strong possibility that all of these financial aids that are being rolled out now, which of course I’m dependent on, because my business is in tourism, are going to become dependent on your vaccination status. And then when I’m not going to qualify, I can see myself being evicted and scrambling for temporary housing or something and people simply being okay with it. Like I can see the slow, my life slowly, completely falling apart and me just going with it in a state of absolute shock. And it just going from bad to worse.

Addison Reeves

Yes. And that, I think has been the most disheartening part for me is not the idea that our government would do these things. I always knew it. That’s why I said we have to be on guard, and we have to take an adversarial position with the government, because if you let it, the government will do these things. So, I’m not as shocked by that. But I’m shocked by the reaction of my friends and family and the feeling that yes, they’re absolutely okay with the government treating me this way. They’re absolutely okay with me being discriminated against and being segregated. And even if things get worse, I couldn’t count on them for support. I don’t think they would be there for me at all. If, for instance, this internment camp thing happened, I don’t think that they would try in any way to stop it or try to defend me. I think they would blame me and say it’s my fault for not complying.

Frieda Vizel

Right. Do you think people would laugh if we say that we are worried about being taken? Because I can see it happening. I can see people saying, well, it’s just quarantine. Until you’re… to me, it doesn’t feel like a leap anymore. The climate here makes it feel like people are mentally entirely prepared for something like it.

Addison Reeves

Yes, I completely agree. And I’m sure they would say that’s ridiculous, that’s crazy. But they’ve been saying that all along, this whole time. And everything that they said was crazy has come to pass.

Frieda Vizel

And then they said it wasn’t crazy anymore.

Addison Reeves

Yes, then they said oh, it’s fine. Exactly. So, I can’t trust anything these people say now. And you know, I’m hoping I can get out of New York before things get really crazy. So, I’m even concerned about things like if I were to try to buy property, because I would like to try to get something more independent and hope I won’t be as subject to the whims of government. But I’m thinking if I were to get an FHA loan and a mortgage, is this going to possibly affect me negatively? Is there going to be, are there going to be some terms based on vaccination status either now or sometime in the future? It seems like we’re going down this path where it’s now something that the government can look into your body, your health – or supposed health or lack thereof – that they can monitor this, and they can ask you for proof. And you’re kind of guilty until proven innocent, and to be proven innocent, you have to take whatever technology they’re giving you, no matter how experimental is. And if you don’t, it’s against the public good so that they can take whatever measures they want to… And so, we’re in a situation, we are in this emergency, supposed emergency state that’s not ending, doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to end because you can’t control the virus, and we might just be in this state forever. And every time there’s a variant, it’s going to be a new lockdown, or it’s going to be new, it’s more measures have to be taken, like it’s just a never-ending situation. So, I can foresee, you know, having some kind of government backed mortgage, and now maybe I’m not doing so hot, maybe I need a forbearance, or I need to rework the terms of my repayment, or I want to refinance or something. And they say we’ll do that for you only on the condition of your being vaccinated. I can see that happening now. It shouldn’t happen. It goes against everything I’ve ever thought could happen in this country. But this is how I feel based on what’s happened. So much has already happened that the world doesn’t feel stable anymore. The things I counted on, the institutions I counted on, what I understood to be our society, it’s been completely changed for me.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, I feel like whatever the process was over the last year and a half, in the beginning, I was convinced that this was a psychotic episode brought on by social media, and that soon the normal people, the sane people will rise up and say enough of this. I was convinced that this was temporary. There’s no… I could not see a point in which reasonably this would become what it is today.

Addison Reeves

Normal, the default.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, that this would be normalized, that people would be… we think it’s acceptable for all aspects of life to be conditional on you receiving an injection that we have no idea what it does, like if it helps at all for a virus that…

Addison Reeves

And we’re supposed to earn our freedom back. We’re supposed to just have this freedom, like before the pandemic, it was just assumed you are a free person, you’re supposed to be free, the government can’t interfere with that. And now, the assumption is this is something you have to earn, and you have to ask for from the government, the government will give it to you if you’re good enough, and you’re obedient enough. It’s crazy. I don’t know how… I mean, I know, it must have been in the works overtime, slowly as we’ve been getting more and more acclimated to government expansion. But still, I wasn’t expecting this. And I think they were genius about it. Because if you think about it, right at the beginning of summer, last year, I think that’s about point where people were starting to get fed up and were probably ready to push back. And then they relaxed everything. And then there were the protests that you had let off some steam, and you could be normal again, and you can enjoy life and things felt like things were getting better. And then came the fall, start to scare people again. And I’m not saying that this is some kind of planned thing, but just the way it’s operating on the psychology of us as human beings, the way responses have been designed to keep us from really pushing back and from protesting and from resisting. It’s giving us just enough freedom for just short enough periods of time that we can remember what it’s like, and we can feel like things are getting better, and then scare us again into feeling like, oh no, we have to do what government says.

Frieda Vizel

It’s also, you know, we were in the East Village right before the Pride Parade. And I was telling you it was like amusing ourselves to death. I feel like when I see that, it’s not just that people are having a good time. I feel like people are exhausting themselves with a performance of having a good time. They’re all dressed to the nines, and they’re all laughing so loudly… You feel like they must have a blast. They are performing. They’re taking these pictures nonstop. And they’re creating this narrative of we went out and we spent the weekend in the village or whatever, we had the time of our lives. And they get so tired out that then they accept happily, and I don’t judge them, to some degree, you know, modern life is extremely difficult. We’re expected to live life at a tempo in a way that is not sustainable. So, I feel like we’re being worn out. When I see all of that color, the noise, all the gorgeous dining sheds and the flowers and their, you know, cute little designs, I feel like we’re being played out like little kids so that we can then be shoved into bed. And now here we are, we’re being told to stay home again and to mask up, and people are very willing to take off their bras and say, okay, I’m home again.

Addison Reeves

And you and I have talked about, too, that there are people who are very critical of all this, but they’re willing to go along with it as long as they can go to their restaurants or their concerts or as long as they have that then everything’s good. Who cares about freedom, right? I think that there has always been in New York this mentality of work hard, play harder, and you kind of have to use your play and your weekend or whatever your spare time is to try to make up for like the bleakness of the workweek. And so, you have to put so much into it, I think there’s always been this performative element in this, I don’t know if it’s willing to exhaust yourself in pleasure and try to numb yourself from all of the monotony and the tedium of modern life. And so, I think that’s just this on another level. Now, people are feeling very depressed, they are feeling isolated, they’re feeling scared, they are feeling stressed. And so, they need a reprieve. So, it’s almost like a defense mechanism. Like my life is still good, I can do these things, that my life is still good, I can still enjoy life, life isn’t so bad, because I can still go out to this restaurant, I can still do this massive party with my friends, and life is good.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah. But then these events that you’re doing in order to tell yourself my life is so good, you’re really doing them to create a narrative that comforts you, it becomes very tiring. So, in comes the government and says no need for narrative anymore. Now your narrative can just be banana bread. But this is, of course, a very class-based situation. Because people who are dirt poor are not running out, you know, to create these narratives, they’re in Prospect Park with their huge extended family, you know, doing their barbecues on weekends. They have very different… they don’t have the same culture as the people who…

Addison Reeves

You know, and that’s one of the things that really bothered me last year about the pandemic. It was such an elitist, white way of looking at the world. I noticed a while before the pandemic, like if you go into the wealthy white neighborhoods, like it’s very isolated, very atomistic. People leave their homes to go to a particular place, and they go back to their house, in their cars. If you go out to places where people of color, if you go out to Harlem, people hang out. They’re hanging out in the parks, they’re hanging out on stoops, they’re hanging out… it’s just, it’s a culture where people spend time together outside, and that’s normal. So, when you have this lockdown where you’re saying people have to stay at home, you have to lock yourself in your homes and not go outside, of course, that’s not going to affect the rich white people on the Upper West Side, because they don’t hang out on their stoops anyway. They would be home anyway, you know, if they weren’t at whatever ballet or whatever. I know that’s very stereotypical. But I like the ballet actually.

Frieda Vizel

We know you’re a dancer.

Addison Reeves

So, it more affects people who are in a completely different culture. So just even something as small as that I notice that it’s very white, upper class centric way of looking at the world. Like it’s okay for us to say nobody can go outside, it doesn’t really cost them anything, because they’re not the ones who would have been outside. It’s the people who maybe don’t have huge homes, and people who already have a culture of hanging out outside with their friends and playing music outside and dancing, those are the people who got harmed by it. And then they’re going to say that those people for wanting to do that are selfish, when that’s something that they did not have to sacrifice.

Frieda Vizel

They were anyway in their homes. They were living suburban life, essentially, the atomized suburban life. I ran into Kevin Nathaniel, the musician, the Haitian musician, and he lives a few blocks from me. I ran into him in the grocery store. And he said, his block, which is so interesting, because my neighbor is like a block of gentrified, young, white people who are driving up the prices and another block where everyone’s like Haitian or it’s Jamaican, and it’s everyone is in the street in the summer. Like they’re sitting there the whole night. And he was saying that people have no idea in his neighborhood, they’re so not clued in with the whole thing. They’re in a completely different world. They’re not one way or another. And the interesting thing is when I sticker around my neighborhood, when I put up the white rose stickers, I’m not nervous in those neighborhoods, because no one is going to bother me there. But when I am in the wealthy neighborhoods, I know that people will get extremely nasty, like really scary, nasty.

Addison Reeves

And you know, it’s interesting, I always just assume, you know, so I live in Harlem, so obviously, it’s a lot of Black people, but then there’s also a lot of gentrification. So, I just assume whenever I see that one of my stickers got pulled down, I’m assuming it’s one of the gentrifiers who did it, you know.

Frieda Vizel

Like someone put on top of your sticker a pride sticker, and Nazi something. What did they say?

Addison Reeves

Yeah. They said Nazi, the fuck off. And I’ve got some Trump equals traitor stickers put over mine.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, they’re working on stereotypes in order to give themselves… you know, since we’re already covering the plethora of identity, which it really is. There is really, really racism, and they’re also what really bothered me, because I’ve been sort of on the periphery of feminist, interested in feminist issues before the pandemic, it’s been really, really upsetting that the people who were supposedly fighting for women’s issues were arguing their position, this really upset me, was in response to the pandemic, their feminist position was that men weren’t following the rules well enough.

Addison Reeves

I haven’t heard that.

Frieda Vizel

That’s what I heard on some of these groups. Like that’s what people were discussing. And we’re all like, right men are not hygienic enough. Like they’re not cleaning themselves.

Addison Reeves

It’s interesting. I do know, I know, I remember seeing in the protest groups, not the protest groups, but the skeptic critical groups, they would blame women and say it’s women who are doing this. It’s women who are enforcing all of this. And then there sometimes would be pushback – well, actually, the people who have been trying to police me have all been male, so I don’t know. Yeah, so I don’t know. It’s an interesting dynamic. I can’t tell one way or the other. I think when I think about it, I think I have gotten it both from men and women, this criticism if I have pulled my mask off or didn’t have it on in the first place. I think it’s come from both sexes so I’m not sure.

Frieda Vizel

I think definitely on Reddit, for instance, you’ll see a lot of comments about, because Reddit is very male, about, you know, this being women. When there’s a woman who is policing, then people will say, see, it’s the women. You’ll see that. But what bothered me was that feminists who were supposed to respond to this by saying women are being forced to be in their homes and are vulnerable to abuse and are vulnerable to… like women’s freedoms have been vastly, vastly curtailed…

Addison Reeves

I think that a lot of the feminists who would be making those arguments aren’t even allowed on Reddit anymore.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, you’re right.

Addison Reeves

I agree with you from different… I am not talking so much about what I’ve seen on forums. But I think, in general, I’ve been surprised by the lack of institutional response that I would have expected, you know, maybe a women’s rights group to say, oh, we’re concerned about the lockdown, expressed some criticism about the lockdown because more women are being subjected to abuse and violence at home, we know that domestic violence incidents have increased, and that’s something we’re concerned with. Or we know that women make less than men. And so essentially a single parent household, we’re especially concerned about, you know, single mothers maybe how they’re suffering. I would expect more of that, or you know, again, ditto with racial organizations like NAACP. You don’t really see… There’s this complete unwillingness to criticize the paradigm at all. There’s an unwillingness to criticize the Democrats. If it was Trump, they would have been all over him. They would have torn him apart for some of this stuff. And they’re not willing to even question the democrats at this point.

Frieda Vizel

You think so, but you know, they weren’t, when it was Trump, they weren’t willing to criticize either.

Addison Reeves

Trump?

Frieda Vizel

No, the lockdown response. Because it wasn’t a Trumpian thing. Trump was pushing back.

Addison Reeves

So, I don’t know if Trump had been the one to say let’s lock down the country, I think things might have gone very differently.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you’re right. You know what’s interesting, I can’t even remember Trump anymore. It feels like…

Addison Reeves

I know. Those were the days. I did want to say, the thing that has been surprising me is I’ve noticed particularly I guess with the white rose stickers, that, you know, every once in a while, we’ll have someone who finds a sticker or stickers and they’ll take them down and come into our group, and they spend all this time trying to taunt us, like, look, I took down your stickers. But what I found really interesting, and even with the pride flag stickers that got put up near them, that there’s this assumption that anybody who’s critical of the pandemic response and of the lockdowns is anti-gay, anti-LGBT. It’s really interesting to me. I don’t know. I mean, I know that they associate critics with being right wing and Republican, but I don’t know, I guess maybe that’s enough for them to think that everybody who’s a critic must also be anti-LGBT, but it’s such a weird confluence for me, or I guess confluence isn’t the right word. But it’s weird to me that they correlate criticism of the pandemic with sexuality and they’re completely unrelated.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, it is interesting because they do lump everything. And yet, we are a ragtag group of weirdos and the most eccentric people. Like our groups, we have a very small movement here, if it can even be called that in New York City. Addison is giving me this sad, sad look. But one thing for sure is that there’s a very big cross section of minorities and of all sorts of cultures, all sorts of accents.

Addison Reeves

Political orientation. It’s not…

Frieda Vizel

The left the right.

Addison Reeves

You can’t pigeonhole this group. But that’s what they do. And then once they pigeonhole us, it’s easy to dismiss us. So, I think, you know, there was one night when we were both stickering, and I think people were looking at us doing double takes because we didn’t fit the profile who they expected to be critical of these lockdowns.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah. But then they go, and they write, they create characters for us afterwards. They create stories to make it…

Addison Reeves

Yeah, the straw, they’re building strawmen so they can knock us down and not have to deal with our actual ideas, our actual thoughts, our autonomy. It’s easier to strip us of our consent and our sovereignty if you dehumanize us and just see as some kind of caricature.

Frieda Vizel

It’s going to be such hard times. I’m really not going to be able to cope if Seth doesn’t go to school and I don’t have work. It’s going to be really difficult when people will not care.

Addison Reeves

Yes, I mean, I’m at the point where I just think New York City is a lost cause. I can’t see what could change people’s mind. Like I’m so, the fact that we’ve gotten to this point, and there still isn’t any recognition that this is absolutely crazy, I don’t know what else would do it. And I think, I don’t know if we discussed this last time, we probably did, but I think technology is so much part of the problem. I don’t know, I think it would take like destructing everyone’s phones… and making them come out into the world and just be disconnected from the internet, be disconnected from the news.

I don’t see how we’re going to get out of this.

Frieda Vizel

It’s really, really difficult to see a way from here, because we’re not organized. You know, our rallies are very, very sparsely attended. There was this Irish guy who came to my Stand in the Park (a sort of protest movement that started in the UK) and he said, “That was the worst rally I’ve ever been.” Of the all the rallies in the world, this was the one that…

Addison Reeves

Is that the one with the China signage?

Frieda Vizel

That’s the thing, what’s going on with our opposition? What does it stand for?

Addison Reeves

Yeah, I mean, I think this is a problem. It’s not just our group, I shouldn’t take group, our movement, our collective. It’s something that has plagued advocacies that’s, I guess, time in memoriam. Because there’s always been this tension between purity and respectability. And so, you see this all the time in the Black community. There’s people who are like, okay, we’ve got to try to, you know, deliver a message in a way that, you know, white people will accept, and we’re going to have to make sure that we’re well dressed and articulate and presentable so that we can try to win a seat at the table. And then there are other people that say forget it, we don’t want a seat at the table, you know, we’re going to have our own dinner party, and we’re going to dress the way we want, we’re going to talk the way we want, we’re going to, you know, whatever, because we’re not trying to appeal to them. So I feel like it’s the same dynamic here, where you’ve got these people who have their beliefs, and they’re like we’re not going to sacrifice our beliefs, and we’re not going to change the way we talk, we’re not going to change the way we think, and we’re not going to try to appeal to these people who are different than us, which is a problem because our group is so small, our movement is so small, we need to appeal to people. And so, we need to engage in some of what might be called respectability politics. And we need to try to figure out how we can be presentable to these people who think that we’re anti-scientific and these people who think we’re right wing and these people who think we all voted for Trump. We need to find a way to relate to them and say, no, we are not these things that you think we are. We’re humans, and this is what we think. And we’re all different. And we all have our own ideas. But they don’t want to do that because they also, it’s almost the same exact mindset where they’re looking down on the other side and saying, no, we know better than you and you people are, you know, we’re condescending to you, so we don’t need to try to speak to you because you’re not on our level. And I think both sides are doing it and how we get a bridge between the two, I don’t even know. I’m not even sure it’s possible. I mean, I think it would be possible, but I think it would take one-on-one conversations, massive amounts of one-on-one conversations. And I don’t even know if that would be enough to counter all of the ubiquitous propaganda that we’re surrounded by on television, the internet, billboards, TV. It’s too much.

Frieda Vizel

It’s too much. In education institutions, it’s everywhere. It’s everywhere. You know, I’m afraid… I don’t talk about the vaccine or lockdowns on my tours. Like I talk about it openly on my website. So, it’s like if you come on my tour, I wouldn’t wear a mask. And I’m very open about where I stand. I don’t hide my views, even though I’m sure it affects my customers. But when push comes to shove, and I’m around people, I am terrified to open my mouth. Because it’s very clear that someone will have a heart attack – apostate.

Addison Reeves

Yeah, I haven’t been very open at work. I haven’t misrepresented anything. I haven’t gone along and been like oh, yeah, I’m so scared. I have never done that. But I haven’t been as open about how I feel. And maybe that’s part of the problem. But I can just sense that these people aren’t ready for that. I’ve tried here and there to put out, you know, little questions and criticisms and see how it’s been received. And it will slow them down a bit from spewing out all of the rhetoric that they hear on television. They might be like, oh yeah, that’s a good point. But then they’ll say, but still, so many people are dying, so we need to do it for the greater good and whatever. So, it doesn’t, it just there’s been a massive brainwashing. It’s like we need these people to be deprogrammed before anything can happen. How do you deprogram people?

Frieda Vizel

Especially when they’re tethered to their devices that keep spewing information and entertaining them and distracting them. But, you know, I feel like there’s something distinct about the movements in the United States that seems to be different from the movements around the world. Like the movements around the world, especially, for instance, France, or maybe even the UK, seem to be aware of the financial interests that are the boogeyman here. And that is absent here. There’s like a lack of an awareness of the economic maneuvering that is benefiting and instead it’s like more strawman.

Addison Reeves

But you know what, I think that the left in the United States is generally the one that would be raising those kinds of claims. And the left has completely collapsed. Left as we knew it has completely collapsed. So, I have noticed over the years that people on the supposed left were no longer making economic arguments, they were no longer criticizing the big corporations, they were no longer criticizing Amazon. They weren’t criticizing the media, but they weren’t criticizing, you know, the startup companies that were engaging people as independent contractors instead of employees, and as a result, these people were being paid poorly and not getting all the benefits that they should be getting, you know, as employees. None of that stuff, the labor issues, economic issues, that doesn’t really matter. We’ve got this affluent class that has taken over the left. I’m sure there have always been affluent people on the left. But I think there used to be a group of people who were really mired in the idea of liberty and equality and justice. And they really believe in that. And maybe they didn’t do it perfectly, but they were at least trying. And maybe they were still a little sheltered and they still had their own outlook on the world that’s based on their own privileged experience. But they still really tried and really put their actions where their mouth was… You know what I mean, their actions matched their word.

Frieda Vizel

They walked the walk.

Addison Reeves

Exactly. The people on the left today are just mired in privilege, and they use other groups to reinforce their own privilege. It’s sickens me. I’ve been noticing it definitely since Trump got elected, maybe before, I don’t know. But they just co-op this language, they co-op the rhetoric of civil rights, the rhetoric of civil liberties, and they use it to try to force people into compliance with these measures that, at the end of the day, are going to redound to the benefit of large corporations.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah. And even just saying people with privilege has become almost comical, almost cartoonish. Because they’ve taken these words and stripped it of all meaning because they’ll laugh at an extremely poor, you know, disadvantage person that is not of the right, you know, demographic according to their idea of privilege. And they’ll say you have privilege when that person is disempowered, maybe has, you know, a background of a very… if they were a minority, but they’re not the minority, they still call them privileged. It’s such a farce.

Addison Reeves

Yes, it is. And I’m so afraid. And you know, I was wondering, because I said earlier that we’ve lost our civic institutions, we’ve lost our social organizations and associations. So, if you go back and you watch old episodes of television, like I Love Lucy or Bewitched, the women, of course, they were housewives, but they always had these associations that they belonged to, and I think the men did too. And so those associations were built in political campaigns because anytime they got upset about something, they would get, they already had this this group of people they knew who shared similar values. And they would go and protest or get a politician to come speak. And they would do something about it. And we don’t have that anymore because people don’t really do those kinds of social clubs anymore. We don’t have bowling leagues, people aren’t joining Key Club and the Rotary Club as much as they used to. People are more atomized now. And the problem is now we don’t have these built-in political campaigns. And I think the problem is that what we do have are de facto associations. So, we have people who are all in one religion so that their association, that identity is their association. We’ve got Black people and so blackness is their association. We’ve got Jewish people, Jewish identity is their association or their religion is their association, they’ve got you know… So, our identity has taken the place, all these different identities, have taken the place of civic institutions. So, we no longer meet with people who share our values. And we no longer meet with people who have different experiences and learn from them and connect with them. So, all we have is this really superficial bases of identities that we use to mobilize around. And that’s how all of our politics is now viewed, through these identities, which is not a really useful way to try to manage a country and to try to make political decisions.

Frieda Vizel

That is such a good point. I was actually just looking, Seth was scrolling on the Xbox, and one of the video games said join a 2-million-person community for x video game, let’s say Ark. And I thought how is this a concept, a 2-million-person community for a video game? None of this makes sense. But this is the idea of community. So, these real affiliations where we could have talked and shared ideas have been dissolved. And we’ve replaced it with these supposedly affiliations that are not affiliations, like a video game that other people… Those are not affiliations. And even just talking online to these people, those are not, they’re never the same as your neighborhood, your stoop. One of the books that really made an impression on me during this entire debacle was reading about Jane Jacobs, because the 1960s with Robert Moses, 1950s and his project in the city was really a reimagining the city on a much smaller scale but similarly with a technocratic vision of let’s put everyone in cars in these isolated automobiles, and let’s destroy the communities and do this master architect of a garden, perfect utopian society that really is extremely top down and doesn’t allow for the spontaneity of life. And she, for instance, Jane Jacobs was extremely involved in organizing in order to stop the destruction of local neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, by getting the construction projects to be canceled, because actually, the things like the Brooklyn Queens expressways destroyed neighborhoods. And they were affected. But you know what, they were like this was their outing… and they weren’t treated like we are today, I think. Because we’re censored.

Addison Reeves

Right. And I don’t know if people don’t know how much we’re being censored or if they just don’t care. But it’s definitely a problem. They are censoring all opposition to democratic political plans right now. And I don’t think there’s going to be an end, I think they’re going to keep censoring us on these matters. And they’re going to expand and start censoring us on other things besides the pandemic. We can’t really have meaningful conversations anymore. And now I learned last year the term Overton window, which is, you know, the amount, I guess, the window of topics that are acceptable to discuss and consider, and that is shrinking because people now don’t ever get to hear, unless you go out of your way, don’t ever get to hear criticism, don’t get to hear opposing viewpoints, you don’t get to hear alternate viewpoints. Everything now, it’s either you’re for this particular proposal, or you’re against it, and you’re evil, and you’re dangerous, and you need to be censored for the safety of the whole community. And that’s so dangerous. I can’t believe that this is happening, and people aren’t questioning it, that the White House put out a statement saying that there are these twelve people who are so dangerous that they need to be censored, and the next day, they’re all wiped off social media. And nobody thinks that’s a problem. That’s terrifying. This is how things like fascism start, like, how or where… Yeah, so I don’t, I don’t see this going anyplace good. And I don’t feel very hopeful about the future. I’m hoping to get out of New York City and go somewhere else. But even then, I feel like it’s only a matter of time before this culture starts making its way out to the rest of the country, and these mandates and these plans. I don’t know, I don’t know if there’s going to be an endpoint. I was just reading some articles today where they were talking about how these passports are going to be with us forever and that they’re going to be expanded, and they’re going to be used for other things. They’re going to map on other social values onto these passwords that we’re going to have to show and use to prove that we are worthy to participate society, which is a massive rewriting of the social contract. And we haven’t voted on it. We haven’t ratified the constitution to decide that certain classes of people now no longer get to participate in society.

Frieda Vizel

See, this is why I get so frustrated by the response in the United States has been largely well leaved these blue states, you know that when there was the announcement that you’ll need to have a vaccine passport at the gym, you know of course, there’s an outpouring of why are you still there? But you know what, that is not enough. Because we are changing… of course, it will be better, it will be better for you, wherever you go. But we still need to fight the very system, because it’s going to have its tentacles, you’re going to be living in a red neighborhood with one gym that’s a part of the bigger network, you’re still going to need…

Addison Reeves

Yes. Although for me at this point, I’m realizing so much of it is just the feeling of alienation I have here in New York City. I’m so tired of it. I’ve been silent, even before the pandemic, I’ve been silencing myself so much and censoring myself to make sure I fit in and I’m not, you know, ostracized, or I’m not excluded, and I’m sick of it. It’s tiring. It’s not, I can’t fully be myself. I can’t be authentic, because I have to constantly worry that if I engage in whatever today’s wrong thing is, I’m no longer going to have friends. You know, those aren’t friendships if I have to constantly worry about that sort of thing. And I don’t think I’m saying anything too outrageous. At this point, just criticizing anything, anything that goes against the narrative is wrong and needs to be gotten rid of, and it needs to be punished, and I’m tired of being policed. I’m tired of feeling like anything I do could result in some kind of punishment. And that I have to worry that people are going to call my job and try to get me fired if they hear me say… I’m sick of it. It’s just, it’s become too tiresome living in New York. It’s too fraught, it’s too, there’s just too much.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah. And it’s so heartbreaking because this is supposed to be a place where you can do your own thing, you know, let your freak fly. And instead, the Overton window is so tiny that just wanting to be able to have an opinion that is not in any way outrageous.

Addison Reeves

Yeah, it really cinched it for me when the announcement, when I realized that I might be facing a mandate and the reaction I got from my friends, you know, was so lacking in empathy. It was, it just it was, it’s like even if I don’t, even if I am successful, and I can win this particular battle, like, why do I want to stay here with these people? If I’m not, I don’t have support. I have people who think I should be punished, people in my life who think that I deserve to be punished simply for having a different opinion than they do. They don’t say it in that way, but that’s what it amounts to. When they see these things happening, they think it’s okay, and they think it’s okay for the government to punish me for being different.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah. And this is how the city is only going to become worse because they’re alienating and pushing out, very openly asking us to leave, and allowing for this to become extremely homogenous. And anyone who goes against the group thing gets pushed out. And they have this fake diversity by people putting on extremely outrageous clothing that is actually not diversity at all.

Addison Reeves

It’s like a uniform at this point.

Frieda Vizel

It’s like all the shops, probably all they sell in Williamsburg… shops are these outrageous outfits. So what are we really left with? A city that is intentionally going to turn itself into this insufferable, unbearable place. And this is where I’m a tour guide, so I can’t go anywhere.

Addison Reeves

I’m sure you could find lovely places to tour elsewhere. I mean, I do get it. And someone else said that to me about not leaving, needing to fight this fight. And I do appreciate that. I don’t want to run from the fight exactly. But it’s just I realized, especially after these last announcements, I’m just miserable in this city. And miserable of wondering what’s going to happen next. I’m miserable of feeling so alone. If I didn’t know you, like I don’t know what I’d be doing. This last year and a half has been really hard. And just the feeling of such a lack of support from the people who are my friends and family, it’s really hard. And I can see why. And that’s part of the problem. That’s why so many people don’t want to go protest. That’s why so many people haven’t been critical. That’s why people are going along with this. Because they know if they criticize and if they question, they’re going to lose people in their social network. They’re going to be displaced from their social network, and it’s going to be incredibly painful. And I know it’s painful because I just went through that this last year so I can see why they don’t want to do that. And it’s that kind of pressure, it’s so unhealthy and it’s so toxic. And I just, I’m sick of it. I’ve been feeling I’ve been dealing with it even before the pandemic, and it’s not conducive to intelligent thought. It’s not conducive to intellectualism. It’s not conducive to empathy or compassion. It’s not conducive to getting good friends who are going to support you clearly.

Frieda Vizel

You know, people used to always asked me what my favorite part was after leaving the Hasidic community, and I would tell this story of that time I went biking, and I got lost. And I stopped at a gas station, and I got a whole tub of ice cream. And I sat outside of the gas station, I was just eating it out of the tub. And while eating it, I suddenly had this realization of I don’t care whoever’s looking at me, no one is judging me. I’m free from that. You know, like I’m just in the moment with myself. I’m not looking at myself from outside and thinking what other people are thinking. That was my most magnificent moment. There is this terrible weight that goes off of people stopping to be like cruel.

Addison Reeves

Yes, you know, so you know, I’ve been thinking like, oh, my God, I need to get out of the city, I need to get away from this. And my first reaction was fear and anxiety and depression. Like I’m not… I felt at the time, I’m not ready to leave the city. I haven’t prepared myself for it. And there are things I still want to do here. But the more I think about it, the more I feel that once I leave, I’m just going to feel such a huge wave of relief. I think I’m in a state of PTSD and I need to recover from it. I think it will be such a positive thing for me to get out of the city.

Frieda Vizel

Just being on the train with a mask or without a mask has been very, very terrible. Very. People look at you, people film you.

Addison Reeves

You’ve gotten filmed?

Frieda Vizel

Oh, I’ve gotten filmed. I didn’t wear a mask ever. I was the only person like in the subway. In some places I did wear a mask, but in the subway, I was very stubborn about it. Probably because I know the cops wouldn’t go after me, you know. And people were terrible. I cannot tell you how audacious they were. They were just going up to you. And it’s traumatic.

Addison Reeves

…I don’t think anyone’s filmed me. But I try not to look at people and try to keep my head down…

Frieda Vizel

You know, that process of looking down, of not making eye contact, and becoming defensive in that way, is traumatic. That’s what I was… you were essentially walking around constantly on the defensive. For what? For breathing?

Addison Reeves

Yes. And I especially felt it last year, I did wear a mask… so I didn’t feel it as much on the subway until I started not wearing it. But when I would go to the park without a mask, outside, fresh air, outdoors. And I would feel so scared. I was scared people were going to try to report me. I was scared people were going to yell at me. People were going to curse me out. So, I would, yes, I tried to stay away from people. It would be very, it might… Yeah, now that you mention it, my body language and my posture would be very like cowering because I was so afraid of other people policing me.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah. And it has an effect. You know, when people would come up to me and say you need to wear a mask. You can’t be in the grocery store, which happened all the time. It happened a lot of times, especially because we have an organic market on the corner.

Addison Reeves

I bet. I can’t even believe you were able to get away with it at all, because nobody in my neighborhood would let us in without one.

Frieda Vizel

Really? Some of them were really nasty, really nasty. But you know what, I just kept going back. And if they gave me a hard time, I left. But I was shaking. I was… I think it brought back a lot of experience of people policing my modesty. And it brought… I would have a kind of experience that would remind me of a very difficult…

Addison Reeves

I have to say that is so brave of you, like that takes such strength. Because most people are unwilling, most people are still waiting, even after they were told they can take their mask off, they’re still waiting because they don’t want to be the lone ones who aren’t wearing a mask. And even myself and other people who are critical of this, like it’s scary to be in that position where you’re the lone person there. Everyone’s angry at you. Everyone’s scared of you. Everyone’s yelling at you and trying to police you. And to be the one person that’s pushing back, that’s really an amazing thing to do. And I’m so impressed that you were able to do it because I definitely sacrificed on that. I feel kind of ashamed about it.

Frieda Vizel

No, no, I think I would have never ever had that fight in me if I hadn’t been through what I’d been through. And I think if you do it all over again now, a lot of people would have a very different… because it’s a primal response that I have that feels like baked into my conscience. This is a battle that you must fight. This is not a joke. This is not just a mask. This is seeding very, very, very dark things. And I think if you haven’t lived it, it’s not in your… There are some things you really have to have lived for your body to remember how important it is. Like a lot of people say it’s just a cloth. You know what, your body has no memory of what it is and that’s why you think it’s just a cloth.

Addison Reeves

Yes. And you know what you’re saying how you have seen this before with the smallpox epidemic – measles. I feel now in retrospect, like I’ve been seeing all the ways that religion, that the right to practice religion has really been just hampered with and diminished. And it’s kind of crazy now that I think about it, you know, we have a right to practice our religion, like that’s guaranteed to us in the Constitution. But this right has been so diminished over the years. And I feel embarrassed now because I didn’t really take it seriously. I didn’t, you know, I thought that’s something that the right wing is really pushing. And you know… they got the religious right, and they’re trying to push their religion on everyone else, so I wasn’t as concerned about it. But now looking back in retrospect, I see how much the state has imposed itself in interfering with people’s ability to practice religion. So that now when people say I’ve got a religious objection to this, it’s kind of dismissed and people are kind of, they think of it as something trivial. And they’re kind of dismissive and say that doesn’t really matter, you got to do what we want you to do. And that’s exactly why we have an amendment that says you are allowed to practice your religion. But we’re completely dismissing it. And so, you know, we’ve got these groups where people are facing mandates at their job, and they’re saying how can I get this exemption? What’s the process? Do you have a letter? Do you have this? Do you have that? And it’s insane that we’ve gotten to this point where someone has to ask permission to be able to practice their permission. This is not what our country is supposed to be. And I think that also paved the way for this, that we’ve already gotten to this habit where we have to ask permission to practice our beliefs, to have different beliefs, to practice or beliefs. And now we’re adding on to this, that we have to have permission to have sovereignty over our bodies, or we might not even have permission, we’re not even, you know, we might not even be able to ask for permission. It’s just we’ll be punished if we expect sovereignty over our bodies. And like you said, this is going down such a dangerous path. And I don’t know how to get people to see that it is very important that people have ownership over their bodies, that people have the right to believe whatever they want to believe and practice their lifestyle in accordance with those beliefs. I don’t know how we get back to the point where people think those values are important.

Frieda Vizel

I know. You know, I’ve talked about it a lot. I talked about during the measles outbreak and people respond, especially because a lot of the people who read me are, you know, critical of the Hasidic community, because they’re looking at someone who left the Hasidic community. And they would say why are you defending them? Why are you defending these backwards people? Why are you defending their fanaticism? And I would say I’m not defending them, I am defending the right for plurality of interpretations of the world to exist. That’s supposed to be the difference between fanaticism and us, right? And people wouldn’t appreciate it. But you know, I’ve been thinking about the religion thing a lot, and I think a part of what people hate about religion so much is, A, the rituals, because we have a culture that hates rituals, like anything that doesn’t have a practical use doesn’t make sense. You can go to the gym, that’s a ritual, it’s fine because you get endorphins, and your body’s more optimal. But you can’t go to the synagogue and pray because that doesn’t make sense practically, even though ritual is very important. So, I feel like we have a disdain for ritual, but we also have a culture that hates congregating.

Addison Reeves

Yeah, we really do, don’t we?

Frieda Vizel

Yeah. And it’s almost like a response to that.

Addison Reeves

You know, I think it’s also more than that. I think it’s because it is a direct threat to progressivism, it’s a direct threat to growth, a direct threat to technology, because people who are religious, first of all, they tend to have an association of people, they tend to already be mobilized, that’s dangerous, and so they can push back. But then they also tend to be people who are more likely to reflect more, they’re more likely to take a step away from the media, take a step away from, you know, the technology and to think more for themselves, or to think at least outside of the narratives that we’re being told and that’s dangerous. And then most religions, maybe all religions, will tell you not to be so greedy, telling you not to consume so much, tell you not to focus on the material, to focus more on spiritual things, to focus more on humanity and helping others and being loving. And that’s not good for the economy. They need you dissatisfied and out there shopping and buying as much as you can. So, there’s just no way that religion fits into this model of the world in which we’re constantly working and buying things and feeling dissatisfied and trying to assuage our feelings of dissatisfaction with more shopping and more technology and [big 1:19:08] technologies. I think there was a thread, I don’t know, I mean, I haven’t really followed like the history of religion and secular – is secularity a word? …religion and atheism in this country. And so, I know there’s been a lot of push intellectually to promote atheism and to talk about how religion is unscientific and it’s irrational, and I used to buy into that a lot because there are a lot of bad things that have been done in the name of religion. There have been a lot of ways that religion has been used to control people, it’s been used to justify enslaving people. So those arguments did appeal to me at one time, but now that I look at them, I’m really turned off because I think what they’re saying is your religion is irrational, but my religion of science isn’t. This is the correct religion. Everyone should be obeying this religion. So, and I did it in the last podcast, I talked a lot about science. And I found it very dismissive. And I just want to make it clear, I’m not against science. I think science, obviously, is a wonderful tool that we use to collect data and observations about our world. But this isn’t science that they are really promoting. It’s what is called scientism. It’s this obsession with using science or purported science as a belief system and as a way to manage the world and control the world. It’s a very dogmatic use of science. And it’s very problematic. So, I think that has become a religion in and of itself without people realizing it, because it’s secular, no one thinks of it as a religion. But it is a religion. And now that religion has displaced other non-secular religions, sectarian religion, spiritual religions. And people who believe in those faiths are now being told that that’s wrong. And you have to subordinate your beliefs to this religion of scientism.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah, I read the book, the short story, The Machine Stops, have you heard of it? By E. M. Forster. It’s 1909 that he wrote it. So that’s an incredibly long time ago relative to where we are now. And it made a really strong impression. It’s about, it’s a futuristic story. Can I tell you about the story really quickly? So, it’s a short story of a world where, in the future, everyone lives in a tiny pod under the ground, they never see the world because everything’s received artificially. And it is incredibly prescient because there’s video calling. And the woman, the main character, she sounds like a modern-day professor. She is, I think, the Elector on the Australian School of Brisbane music and whatever, she has a fancy title. And she lectures in front of her TV screen. It’s of course before TV. And she never leaves her house, she’s as white as fungus. She never goes anywhere. No one wants to travel anywhere because the world’s gotten very homogenous by technology. So, they live with artificial food, artificial music, artificial air.

Addison Reeves

It’s scary. It sounds very, very familiar.

Frieda Vizel

It sounds like something we might be heading for. And the interesting thing is that he was able to understand that in this world, people would embrace a kind of machine narrative. They love the machine. They think the machine makes them civilized. In fact, this woman has a son who’s going native. He wants to grow facial hair, which disgusts her. He doesn’t live with her, he lives in his own pod. And he wants her to visit personally. And she disdains that because she’s too busy with her life. She’s like a Zoom professor who is like busy to the hills with bullshit.

Addison Reeves

It sounds so scary because it sounds like definitely where we’re headed.

Frieda Vizel

It’s us. It’s ridiculous. And it’s so well captured because she is angry at her son. And she says I worship nothing. She literally says all superstitions have been abolished by the machine, we are now civilized. Yet at the same time, she clearly worships the machine. It’s like in order for people to become so subjugated and so dependent on the machine, they have to become sort of worshipers of it. Yet, in order for them to make it okay, they tell themselves that they are beyond superstition.

Addison Reeves

Yes, and you know, that book, I hadn’t heard of or read, but it sounds very interesting. And I’m thinking of all, you know, we’ve talked about how much criticism there has been of the path of technology. And I was telling you about, you know, some other movies that have been critical of technology. And I’m thinking of all the books and media that have been critical of misuse of science and technology and unlimited use of technology, and of, you know, dystopian governments, autocratic government. And I don’t understand, like there have been so many great stories that have warned us of the things that we’re experiencing now and things possibly yet to come. And I wonder what other people were thinking when they read these, because I know they’ve seen a lot of these movies, they’ve read a lot of these books, a lot of them were required by school. Do they think these were aspirational novels? I just don’t get it. Like how did they read those and not see that what we’re experiencing today is similar to some of the things that were in those dystopian novels and movies?

Frieda Vizel

Yeah. What I have found very much in my own personal experience is, because I was always very taken by American culture’s celebration of freedom, because I didn’t grow up with freedom. Freedom was a derisive term ‘a freyeh yid’ a free Jew, which means a modern Jew was a very derisive term. So I was always like, so impressed with modern culture’s celebration of these things. And I think instead of actually celebrating them, they’ve distorted, as with everything, as with, for instance, we were talking earlier, racism, as with the conversation about all of these important tenets to our civil liberties, they have all been turned on their head. So, the word means the opposite. So, people who, like when I read the book, I think They Thought They Were Free on the Holocaust, and I was going to go read the reviews on Goodreads to see that people agreed with me, all the reviews were like people saying all the Trumpian people should read this. They were taking it the wrong way entirely.

Addison Reeves

And you know, after Trump was elected, there was a massive uptake in people reading all these dystopian novels. And so, at the time, I thought, okay, good, even though Trump is elected, we’ve got a lot of people who are watching out for this stuff, and they’re going to push back. And so, we’ll be fine. What I did not realize was that all these people were going to themselves become the ones who are pushing for this dystopian future. And it still baffles me, because like you’re saying, they always use the rhetoric as the opposite of what they’re doing. It is astounding. And I think I told you before about the Hannah Arendt quote that I found where they said the people who commit these atrocities, the people who, I don’t know if she’s talking specifically about fascism, but basically she said, it’s not the person who is a committed communist or committed fascist, it’s the person who can no longer tell the difference between right and wrong, the person who cannot tell the difference between reality and unreality, and who can have someone else, you know, tell them what’s real and what’s not. And if they tell them something that’s a lie, they just accept it, because there’s really no reality anymore. And that’s where it feels like we are. It feels like we now, it doesn’t matter what words mean anymore, because there isn’t really a reality. It doesn’t matter what the statistics say about COVID because there’s no real reality. There’s no… reality doesn’t matter anymore. It’s irrelevant. All that matters is the story.

Frieda Vizel

Yeah. Yeah. And that’s the line where we all should stop and say, okay, we’re pulling the plug on the circus, we’re pulling the plug on the, you know, show, and we are taking a hard look on ourselves. But we’re past that point. At this point, we should have long stopped, we should have taken a hard look, and people didn’t, and now what awaits us hopefully isn’t going to be…

Addison Reeves

You know, I am heartened by the people in Tennessee. They seem very fired up. I’ve been on some of the Tennessee groups… and they seem much more fired up than, well, definitely the people here so.

Frieda Vizel

One day I’ll come to your doorstep in Tennessee with like a little bag of things.

Addison Reeves

Yes, refugees welcome. Isn’t that crazy? I was just thinking I would be a political refugee almost. Like I’m a refugee in my own country.

Frieda Vizel

It is really, really part of my mind says this is absurd, and another part of my mind, but you know, my experience throughout this has been this is surreal.


 

Related Posts:

#28 of Podcast with Addison from Modern Heretic

#27 of Podcast with Simon Elmer

#25 of Podcast with Andy Libson

#18 of Podcast on the short story The Machine Stops

7 Comments

Post A Comment