Djokovic’s Choice (Part 2)

Trust me, the science is settled?

In Part 1 I provided a history of the recent controversy surrounding tennis star Novak Djokovic’s decision to not get vaccinated. This information provides an important factual backdrop to the following opinion. However, this piece also stands on its own.

Vax Mandate Irrationality

By choosing to remain unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic now faces the same dilemma at the upcoming 2022 US Open (another Grand Slam) as he did in Australia. Current US policy bars unvaccinated international travelers from entering the country. US Open organizers say they will respect the rule (they haven’t the option not to!)

Presumably, the intention behind these restrictions is to keep the public safe from the spread of Covid-19. However, the assumptions underlying the restrictions don’t make logical or scientific sense. If Djokovic enters the US free from Covid-19 infection, how can he possibly give Covid-19 to anyone else, regardless of his vaccination status? The CDC (Center for Disease Control) – the government health authority we’re told has all the answers and no one may question- clearly tells us Covid-19 spreads from one infected person to another. So spread has nothing to do with vaccination status. It is logical to conclude that vaccinated or not, one may get Covid-19 and transmit it to others during infection. Why then should public policy specifically discriminate against unvaccinated persons, as if they somehow pose a greater risk to public health than the vaccinated?

Health authorities fail to explain the greater danger that the unvaccinated pose. One readily observes that fully-vaccinated and boosted persons (including recently, President Joe Biden) can get infected with Covid-19. And we know that Covid-19 spreads by infection, not by un-vaccination. That’s the science!

Covid-19 spreads by infection, not by un-vaccination. That’s the science!

US Open Covid Contradictions

Now get this: at the 2022 US Open coming this September, the attending crowd will not need to be vaccinated! Facemasks will also be optional. The US Open website says its safety protocols are under evaluation and to be announced shortly. So it remains to be seen whether ALL participating players (both US and non-US) at the event will need to be vaccinated, or whether the vaccination requirement will be arbitrarily applied only to those from outside the country. To demonstrate how absurd and arbitrary these safety policies are, consider that in 2021 the situation was reversed: players did not need to be vaccinated (many were not), but all attendees had to be!

Now, is it rational to make Djokovic show proof of vaccination to enter the USA and play at the Open, yet allow US players as well the large attending crowd to be unvaccinated? If unvaccinated but Covid-free Djokovic is dangerous to public safety, then wouldn’t the unvaccinated crowd also be? This contradictory nonsense gives the lie to the idea that these rules are strictly about protecting public health. Something else must be going on. In the meantime, last year’s finalist Djokovic, in perfect health, is barred from play.

If unvaccinated but Covid-free Djokovic is dangerous to public safety, then wouldn’t the unvaccinated crowd also be? This contradictory nonsense gives the lie to the idea that these rules are strictly about protecting public health.

A Christian Case for Vaccination?

Christians should consider biblical arguments offered for taking a vaccine or not. Author and former pastor John Piper leans towards taking the vaccines as a free act by which one may show love to neighbors by protecting the community’s health. While he bolsters his case with statistics showing how widespread and deadly Covid-19 has been, he also notes that one must consider the short and long-term risks with vaccines, how fetal lines have been used in the development of vaccines, and that natural immunity may be as effective as vaccination immunity. This is a vital discussion. I am not sure I concur with the accuracy of his statistical analysis, but the chief reason I don’t find Piper’s generally pro-vaccine argument persuasive is that it is contingent on whether these vaccines do what they were advertised to do! They were initially billed as preventative medicines to halt Covid-19 infection and spread. But health authorities have changed the goal posts and re-written the definition of “vaccines” to accommodate the vaccines’ failure to accomplish what was first promised.

Piper’s case is contingent on whether these vaccines do what they were advertised to do.

Covid-19 vaccines are now recast as medicines that don’t prevent infection or spread but simply mitigate symptoms (of a disease not deadly to most). Piper implies social pressure to take a vaccine or not comes largely from within the Christian community and says we need not bow to such peer pressure. But I think he’s incorrect- it comes mostly from without! It is tyrannical government and corporate mandates that put people in the position of either taking a jab or losing their jobs and pensions. And we have a President trying to push these vaccines by implying that people who don’t take them are being selfish in their freedom (yet his administration downplays or ignores valid safety concerns). Now if these vaccines were truly working as originally planned and the adverse effects were minimal, there would be no need for such authoritarian tactics. Reasonable people would line up to take them. But because the vaccines are not working as originally intended, and adverse effects are continually reported, many shun them. To his credit, Piper doesn’t try to compel all believers to take vaccines. Indeed I think his own presentation raises enough counterpoints to override the idea that taking a vaccine to be a good neighbor is necessarily the wise and biblical choice.

Science Doesn’t Censor Questions

We observe in the Djokovic saga that public health policy is guided not only by concern for public safety but many other (sometimes hidden) factors. It’s deeply troubling that increasingly one may not even raise questions on social media concerning vaccines without fear of censorship or suspension of one’s account. We all should be given access to facts to help us make wise and careful choices, especially in health decisions. And we should be able to freely discuss, analyze, and debate those facts. Those charged with protecting public health would serve us all better by providing straight information and encouraging questions, rather than by belittling and/or censoring them. Science is not a matter of submitting to an approved official narrative. It must be able to withstand skeptical scrutiny and sensible inquiry.

What then drives the relentless vaccine push? I assume some are genuinely convinced the Covid-19 vaccines are safe and offer the best way forward in fighting not only this pandemic but future ones. Yet the current vaccine campaign has become politicized in a way that previous vaccine efforts were not. Generally, Democrats have been on the side of mass vaccination, while Republicans have been much more skeptical about them. Many Democrats take pride in wearing masks and being vaccinated to show they’re on the side of “science” while some Republicans call themselves “purebloods” who’ve never taken a vaccine. Many are now deeply skeptical about vaccine safety and view with great suspicion mandates and the lockdowns associated with the pandemic effort. They view these as part of sinister efforts by greedy globalists to exploit the pandemic to control populations, impact elections, and consolidate power.

Are viruses “bioweapons” and vaccines dangerous genetic modifiers? Have they been created for profit over health? I truly hope not, but what in the past is labeled “conspiracy theory” later often proves true. Consider for example that the report that Covid-19 originated in a “lab leak” was previously denounced by health leaders as a “conspiracy”- yet is now viewed by all as a valid theory. It is beyond the scope of this article to delve deeply into all the forces possibly driving vaccine policy and narratives. But the principle of personal “freedom” John Piper raises is important to consider.

Djokovic’s dilemma and ours- to use our God-given freedom wisely

In the end, does it truly matter if Djokovic will have to miss some tournaments going forward? After all, he’s a multimillionaire, already in the history books as one of the greats. He can retire tomorrow and live comfortably with his lovely wife and son.

Yes, my friends, I believe it matters greatly. Djokovic’s ability to choose for himself is our fundamental freedom too. My body and yours are created by God. We are not the property of the state. The choice of whether to not to take a vaccine, especially one that contains a new mRNA technology not yet fully evaluated as to its long-term health impact, must remain up to the individual. Those in high-risk categories (the elderly, the immunocompromised) may be suitable candidates for vaccines, but given that symptoms of Covid-19 are often mild (especially the newer variants), many make the perfectly rational choice to forgo a vaccine whose long-term safety and efficacy they question.

As Piper argues, we are free to choose to take the Covid-19 vaccine if after careful consideration of all the issues we do so as a “biblically informed act of love.” But we’re also free to reject these vaccines since only God owns our bodies, and no government has the right to coerce us into taking medicines we’re not sure won’t cause us harm in the long run.

The Djokovic case in my view is about whether indeed we all still have the freedom to say no and to act on our beliefs. If not, we should and we must.

The Djokovic case in my view is about whether indeed we all still have the freedom to say no and to act on our beliefs. If not, we should and we must.

Many, including Robert Kennedy, Jr. have joined the chorus of those decrying current US policy that unfairly discriminates against the unvaccinated and becomes a coercive influence on personal health decisions. In his article, Novak Djokovic: Greatest Tennis Player Becomes World’s Greatest Fighter for Medical Freedom, Robert L. Simon writes,

… as we properly bemoan the constant invasion of politics into sports, we who favor medical freedom must cheer Djokovic in his symbolic Australian doubles against Biden and Fauci. If he’s victorious, we are all victorious. It will be and already is his greatest achievement, even if Nole goes on to win 25 Grand Slams and plays himself into the record books, never to be erased.

Robert. L. Simon

On it will be my habit to point to action steps one may take in response to issues I write about. If you agree with my contention that Djokovic is being unfairly prevented from playing at the US Open due to bad US policy, consider signing this petition: Let Novak Play. But in addition to this, ask questions, seek the best answers you can find, and stand firm in your God-given freedom.

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