• Opine

Sticking it to anti-vaxxers

Aberdeen’s anti-vax sticker campaign is directly tied to far-right ideology

By Miles Stebens

Image courtesy of Miles Stebens


If you have walked around Aberdeen lately, chances are you’ve seen one of those black and white stickers with anti-vax slogans. That is, unless I got there first and have already ripped them off or defaced them. While I don’t necessarily believe that anyone ‘pro-vax’ will be swayed into not getting their vaccine by a sticker, I don’t want to give those putting the stickers up in the first place the impression that what they are doing is in any way acceptable. I want them to walk past where they put their stickers and know that we will not stand for their bullshit propaganda.


Besides, if you’ve taken a second to actually read some of them, you’ll know how utterly ridiculous they are. At the same time, they are spreading fear and disinformation about vaccines, as well as conspiracy theories, such as denying the reality of COVID and speculating that it was created by the government and is all part of a New World Order. Even if some of the stickers make me laugh at their absolute nonsense, I realise how dangerous conspiracy theories can get. Not to mention those stickers that include racist, fascist and Nazi ideology.


Once you do a bit of research into the group behind the stickers, you’ll notice just how deranged they are. First off, they call themselves ‘The White Rose’ — appropriated from the anti-Nazi group of the same name that resisted the Nazi regime during the Second World War in Germany, led, among others, by Hans and Sophie Scholl. The original and actual White Rose group distributed leaflets that called for opposition to the Nazi regime. Today’s chuckleheads believe they are ‘continuing’ where the original group left off because they are ‘driven by the same spirit’.


At first glance this is absolutely ludicrous - they are not putting themselves in danger by distributing stickers, since their being caught would not result in their execution or imprisonment (which is what happened to members and supporters of the actual White Rose). However, equating COVID restrictions such as lockdowns and self-isolation to concentration camps, and likening their ‘plight’ to the oppression and persecution of Jewish people and other marginalised groups during WWII, because of mask mandates, testing and vaccines, is Holocaust denial. It’s disrespectful and disgusting, distorts and diminishes the reality of the Shoah, as well as antisemitic. Again, Sophie (21) and Hans (24) Scholl were executed by guillotine in 1943 after they had been caught by the Gestapo for distributing leaflets. The worst that might happen to a sticker-wielding twat is… a fine? Because of the sticker, not the content of the sticker, that is. I don’t know the law in the UK, but where I’m from, Holocaust denial is a criminal offence (as it should be).


Further, the QR-codes on the stickers lead to the group’s Telegram chat which is also used as recruiting and radicalisation ground by far-right groups. The protests and ‘Freedom Marches’ (no one is taking your freedom, you are literally using your freedom when you openly protest, but anyway) are often attended and supported by fascist, far-right or neo-Nazi groups. I hope I don’t have to explain why marching next to neo-Nazis is not a good look. Here’s a hint: if you’re willing to walk alongside and tolerate far-right groups or individuals, you’re not better. This is where the actual danger comes in — while many of the anti-vax supporters might not be directly far-right themselves, tolerating those who are seems like a slippery slope.


Sadly, these protests and stickers are not just appearing in the UK; similar things are happening in the US, in Germany, in France — pretty much all across the globe. If, like me, you don’t want to stand for this bullshit, I urge you to join me in taking down stickers, or covering them with your own, or defacing them so that they’re illegible. Be careful though: while I’ve not noticed any here myself (yet), sometimes there are razors hidden underneath stickers or posters to injure those that try to take them down.


Take a stand against them. Wear your mask, if you can. Get vaccinated, if you can. Get tested or test yourself regularly. If you feel unwell, stay inside. Self-isolate, if necessary. I know it fucking sucks. It’s a shit situation. Do I agree with everything the government (whether here in the UK or elsewhere) is doing or saying? No. But I realise that ignoring the virus and not adhering to the restrictions that have proven to work won’t make it go away. It might, however, make you responsible for the deterioration of someone else’s health or their death. Listen to the experts who have studied their subject for years to become experts in it and use it to educate others and help, instead of knuckleheads on Facebook who have claimed to ‘have done their own research’ — they haven’t. Reading a couple of articles without scientific back-up isn’t the same as, you know, actually conducting said scientific research.


Personally, because of this ‘cooperation’ with other far-right groups, I will treat anti-vaxxers as I would any other far-right group — with utter disrespect and opposition.