The strange logic of the tribe | National Review

The strange logic of the tribe | National Review

Smoke rises around an industrial compound after multiple explosions in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 22, 2022. (AZOV/Handout via Reuters)

Safetyism can take some strange twists. Let’s say you’re intensely worried about Covid and support tight restrictions on behavior to reduce the spread. There’s a good chance you are also . . . recklessly calling for the single most dangerous development imaginable: war with Russia.

A fascinating point made by Unherd columnist Mary Harrington is that (at least in Canada, and at least in one survey) support for (American-led) military action against Russia is strongest among what you might call Covid hawks. Of those who have received three or more doses of a Covid vaccine, 59 percent support a NATO no-fly zone in Ukraine. Of those who have refused the vaccine, support plummets to 18 percent.

Covid hawks have become Russia hawks? Strange development. Since the Vietnam era, in the West at least, military interventionists have tended to be of the right, whereas liberals tend to be dovish and more supportive of diplomatic measures rather than military ones.

Is a reversal underway, and if so, what is the thinking behind this? Harrington sees this as pure tribe-based disgust: Some prominent voices on the right who have previously questioned the validity of vaccines and of anti-Covid regulations are now cautioning against war with Russia or even, in some cases, denigrating Ukraine or making excuses for the Putin regime. The Covid hawks who are clustered on the Left see that the people they hate are strongly in favor of avoiding military intervention against Russia, which in turn makes liberals think that establishing a no-fly zone is a good or necessary step (even though it would amount to entering the war). It’s an extension of the familiar pattern where we see people “doing illogical thing X to own the libs/cons.” Get in bed with Marxism to own the libs? Sure. Empower the state to own the libs? Whatever. Stealth-tax American workers via tariffs to own the libs? Of course. So why not “start a war with a nuclear power to own the anti-vaxxers”? Makes sense, if you’re kind of stupid.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.