Do you remember those Magic Eye pictures that were all the rage for a while, in the 1990s especially? At first glance, each looked like a random, computer generated, 2-dimensional image, like mad wallpaper. But if you looked at one for a while, and squinted a bit, suddenly a 3-dimensional image seemed to leap forward. Once you got the trick of it you could do it every time and reveal the picture within the picture. And each time you saw the hidden image, it was almost impossible to un-see it without closing your eyes.
There are other patterns now – all around us – and you don’t need magic eyes to see them. Remember months ago, I forget exactly when – presidents and prime ministers all over the world started talking about “Build Back Better”? Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, Boris Johnson, Tony Blair, Jacinda Ardern and many more besides. It was repeated like a mantra, by Sadiq Khan, Prince Charles, Prince William, Greta Thunberg, Bill Gates and Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum. All of them inserting that same three-word phrase into their speeches as often as possible. The same characters also talked at every opportunity about a “Narrow Window of Opportunity” opened and made available by the pandemic. The narrow window provided, they said, a once in a lifetime chance to reset the world, so as to save us from ourselves – save us from future pandemics, from climate crisis, from famine, from all the bad ouchies they could think of.
Watching and listening to them, it was hard not think there had to be a script somewhere – a memo that had been circulated among our dear leaders to ensure they were all on the same page at the same time.
As I said at the top – once you notice it, which is to say the repeating pattern, the regurgitating of seemingly rehearsed words shoe-horned awkwardly into every public utterance, you can never again overlook it. What has actually formed, at least it seems to me, is a pattern made of leaders and prominent figures carefully and obediently repeating the same message … as though singing in a choir and harmonising with one another. I don’t think that anything remotely like this has ever happened before.
In the last few days, I’ve noticed another apparent merging of messages, a seeming synchronising. The actual words varied, but the meaning and intent was unmistakeable.
First, I noticed Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, telling a television audience that unvaccinated people were likely also to be misogynists and racists.
He actually offered his opinion, while sober and in the full glare of publicity, that fellow Canadians who were hesitant about an experimental medical procedure were likely to hate women and black people. And so, my ears pricked up.
Next, I read the quotes from a recent interview with French President Emmanuel Macron in which he said unvaccinated people were irresponsible – and that irresponsible people were not citizens. Not citizens, think about that. I looked up citizen in a dictionary, just to be sure, and found the word defined as describing, “a legally recognised subject of a state”. Macron said he wanted to make the lives of the unvaccinated, those non-citizens, as unbearable and as unliveable as possible. He said he wanted to p*** them off.
A French president who says the unvaccinated are not citizens is skating on thin ice over deep and dark water. Such a comment is close, I would argue, to saying the unvaccinated are lesser people, that they are not real people, not real French people, at the very least not people deserving to be treated as equals. That is murky water, dangerous ground – for all people and not just serving presidents of modern, allegedly democratic countries sat upon centuries of bloody, internecine strife.
And then, bumbling and fumbling in the wake of Trudeau and Macron came our own Boris Johnson.
He said: “I want to say to the anti-vax campaigners, the people who are putting this mumbo jumbo on social media: they are completely wrong.”
Anti-vaxxer is a disgraceful label. Many people, double and triple vaccinated among them, have questions they want answered. Some of the same people and more besides have particular and special concerns about the vaccination of children against a disease that poses them negligible threat. And yet according to the words of leaders around the world, such people are next door to idiots, racists and misogynists. They are next to non-people.
A letter signed by MPs, doctors and scientists is as I speak being sent to the JCVI asking them to look again at the roll out of the vaccine to children. This morning on GB News, Brent Taylor, emeritus Professor of community child health care at Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, voiced concerns about how quickly the vaccine has been produced, with limited testing. He said that while the risks were still unknown he felt they were sufficiently severe to demand a rethink of the policy. I presume Boris Johnson must dismiss this letter and this opinion, from a learned authority on child health, as more mumbo jumbo. The opinion of Dr Robert Malone, inventor of the mRNA vaccine technology and also an avowed opponent of vaccinating children against Covid, must presumably be similarly disregarded by our prime minister.
Mumbo jumbo is an 18th century word – coined to dismiss as childish nonsense the religious beliefs of the Mandinka people of West Africa. So, the implication to be drawn from Boris Johnson’s pronouncement is that British people, law abiding citizens, who have been and remain hesitant about an experimental medical procedure are to be dismissed as no more than ignorant children – little people who ought better, we might presume, be taken in hand and taught otherwise for their own good.
Just before Christmas, Tony Blair – excuse me, Sir Tony Blair, Knight Commander of the Most Noble Order of the Garter – labelled the unvaccinated, “idiots”.
He said: “Frankly, if you’re not vaccinated and you’re eligible and you’ve got no health reason for not being vaccinated, you’re not just irresponsible, I mean you’re an idiot … I’m sorry, I mean, that is, truthfully, you are.”
So, there we have it. All within days, as though on cue, those who have chosen not to take an experimental medical procedure made available only under the terms of Emergency Use Authorisation and for which there is as yet no data regarding long term effects, are, according to world leaders past and present, childish idiots, full of mumbo jumbo, are likely to hate women and black people, are not citizens of the French Republic built on foundations of freedom and equality and fit only to suffer being pissed off by the government paid for by their taxes.
All of those parts, seen together, do not a pretty pattern make.
Many of us notice patterns. We cannot help it. It comes with being descended, ultimately, from hunters. We live in a 21st century world of fast-moving technology, but our brains are still running hunter software. When you live in a dangerous, wild world, populated by threats great and small, you are more likely to survive if you notice and pay attention to patterns. Patterns suggest things that, at the very least, are worth watching, to see if they might reveal a hidden danger.
What amazes me is the apparent clumsiness of all those presumably clever people taking the same tack, even parroting the same words, following what feels like a script, all together at the same time and in plain sight. They might as well be wearing matching jumpers, like the Away Team sent from the Starship Enterprise to explore a strange new world. I mean – precisely when you might think they’d wear camouflage and seek to blend in, they’re sticking out like sore thumbs – like the erstwhile hidden image in a Magic Eye picture, you might say.
I could be wrong, of course. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it is a coincidence that Boris Johnson, Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Jacinda Ardern, leaders all, as well as the likes of Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Greta Thunberg, Prince Charles, Sadiq Khan and the rest, independently, inside each of their own heads, think that populations should take advantage of a “Narrow Window of Opportunity” to “Build Back Better” before the racist, misogynist, non-citizen, mumbo-jumbo-talking idiots among the unvaccinated bring the world to an end.
I could be wrong about all of it. But I don’t think so.