By Pantelis Boukalas
The recent anti-vaccination rallies in Athens and Thessaloniki were not the first of their kind, but they were the largest: From the usual attendance of a few dozen or even a couple of hundred protesters, these swelled to a more than a thousand – and that was still during the summer lull. The protesters were also more aggressive than usual, “anointing” the police with Molotov cocktails instead of incense.
There are worshippers at churches across the country who have never donned a mask, either because “Jesus saves” or the priest forbade it.
The key weapon of the deniers – both on an ideological and material level – is the usual: saying “no” to everything, from the existence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to the use of masks, to social distancing and to vaccines. The vast majority – regardless of which faction of the movement they belong to – deny the coronavirus despite the 4 million people who have died of Covid-19 worldwide and its more than 14,000 victims in Greece. And where its existence is acknowledged, then it is explained away as a machination by the slyest of the world’s plotters to fulfill the age-old desire of getting rid of the Greeks and Greece and eking the Christianity out of Christendom by injecting microchips that tamper with the human DNA into people’s arms.
The mathematics of death mean even less to them than scientific explanations. They simply do not believe the numbers. Their faith is invested in other things – Christ and the Virgin Mother, in theory at least, given that their icons, along with massive crosses and Greek flags adorned with religious motifs, are part of their customary armor, embellished recently with a banner quoting dictator Georgios Papadopoulos’ “I believe.” Had they thrown in a couple of images of Alexander the Great, their rallies may have been confused with a typical gathering of “neo-Macedonians.” One can almost imagine it: the Macedonian king riding his steed Bucephalus beside Saint George on his horse, with the latter plunging his lance into the serpent and the former his sarissa into Bill Gates or George Sorros.
The deniers’ verbal armory is littered with sexist vulgarity, distributed between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras. Yet this also fails to convince certain people that the real enemy is the failure of logic, religious fanaticism and intolerance, an aversion for science (which also stems from the machinations of the Slyest One) and idiotic conspiracy theories.
The vehement denial of the medical sciences and of reality we are witnessing among fanatical religious circles is not the only version of denial, but it is the only one that was born at the same time as Covid-19 – the others appeared along the way. For the past year-and-a-half, priests from the ranks of the Church of Greece’s hierarchy have been raising the banners of revolt, imagining themselves in their deluded minds as some modern-day monk Samuel defending the fortress of Kougi at Souli against the onslaught of the barbarians. There are worshippers at churches across the country who have never donned a mask, either because “Jesus saves” or the priest forbade it. Not to mention the government, which even now treats this part of society with kid gloves – like voters instead of deniers.