The moment I made this uncharacteristic decision — discreet silence not being my forte — my immediate qualm was, “So what do I say if people ask?”
“I’ll just say I got vaccinated at the synagogue with everybody else, in late 2019, just before the virus was released.”
That’s a joke. I make jokes. It’s a twitch, a reflex, to cover unease at getting the life-saving shot that 88% of Illinoisans haven’t gotten yet. Is a good joke? Well, it plays on the psycho conspiracy theories that millions of Americans lap up like kittens around a dish of cream. Certainly not as wild as Secret Jewish Space Lasers.
Is it a bad joke? Hateful? Anti-Semitic? Something that will lodge in the head of a nut? My gut says the Jews-to-the-front-of-the-line joke is not one whose unacceptability will only become clear to me after I’m flayed alive on social media. Yes, claiming that prejudice is mere humor is the traditional way haters dive for cover when called out on their bigotry. But jokes also have value, as a way for the targets of prejudice to process the contempt directed at them, making bigotry easier to live with, since it’s obviously never going away. Someone designed a “Secret Jewish Space Laser Corps” pin, and I thought of buying one, then decided people might think it was real, and that could be awkward.
OK, OK. The vaccine. I have to tell you. So I volunteered to chauffeur a couple to Springfield to get their shots, because the woman can’t drive and the man shouldn’t, and I’m the nicest person ever. To Springfield, because many folks down there are numbed to the COVID peril by the barge of BS delivered nightly on Fox News, and so are uninterested in getting vaccinated. “It’s a gubment plot!”
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