Antivaxxers like to view themselves as oppressed and persecuted victims, and it’s testament to their general ability to reason carefully about proportionality that they persistently misappropriate symbols of the Holocaust, such as the Yellow Star of David, to compare their “persecution” to the real persecution of Jewish people under the Nuremberg laws. And yes: such lack of awareness and sense of proportionality is a form of Holocaust denial.
Heather Barajas was, of course, not the first antivaxxer to misappropriate the Holocaust, but the image of herself with her children in Holocaust Chic that she posted on her blog, wearing a self-imposed anti-vaccine badge and comparing it to the badges my people wore to the gas chambers and juxtaposed with photos of Jews from the Third Reich wearing yellow Stars of David, did make its rounds in antivaxx communities, and it is a pretty representative example of offensive dimwittedness that characterize these communities. The martyr complex and delusions of grandeur such a gimmick requires are staggering.
That particular image originated as part of Barajas’s protest against California’s SB277, which eliminated personal belief exemption from vaccine mandates in California schools. Barajas said of the law: “This is no longer about pro-vax vs. non-vax. This is about freedom of choice for medical procedures. Our bodies belong to us, not the government [note, of course, that “our bodies” here refers to her children’s bodies, which she apparently considers her body, too; and of course: no one is forcing anyone to get vaccinated but rather requiring that if you want to use their services you have to get vaccinated]. Measles is not a deadly disease [it most certainly is]. It is not sweeping the nation, killing thousands, as the media hysteria seems to have some believing.” Of course, the reason measles isn’t sweeping the nation, killing thousands, is that people are generally vaccinated to the extent that herd immunity is generally achieved – and even in the media, some people are aware of the potentially disastrous effects of losing herd immunity. And no: of course someone like Barajas would never consider the fact that getting a vaccine to a large extent is about protecting others too; the idea of other people is not something that she seems to have a very firm grasp of – as shown for instance by her tendency to confuse her children for herself. Other parents’ rights to have themselves and their children protected from Barajas’s children starting a pandemic accordingly don’t count.
Diagnosis: Now, we don’t, in fairness, know much else about Barajas. Her minutes of fame stems from her contribution to the side of dumb in the fight over SB277. She nevertheless deserves a substantial entry here, as an example of a very typical antivaxx ploy.