Possession of the vaccine

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By DONATELLA DI CESARE*

The real discrimination is between those who have the vaccine and those who don't.

Dear Agamben, dear Cacciari, the real discrimination is between those who have the vaccine and those who don't. O green pass it is not a measure of discrimination. The word “discrimination” has a meaning and weight that cannot be underestimated. Today there is so much discrimination that happens daily under our eyes: those against immigrants, against those with a different skin color, against the poor considered a black hole on the scale, against workers who are often left without a place to work. Not to mention the innumerable discriminations, recurrently unspoken, against women and even against the LGBT community.

O green pass it is not comparable to any of that. It seems to me dangerous and aberrant to compare green pass and the yellow star because he wants to put a Jewish child, discriminated against for what he was, on the same level with an anti-vaccine who is not yet convinced, or is not yet convinced, to get vaccinated. These comparisons are misleading, whether interpreting the past, that is, the persecution and extermination of European Jews, or trying to orient oneself in the complex reality of the pandemic that marked the world almost two years ago.

From this period, beyond the pain and mourning, we remember the great effort of science that, with unprecedented speed, gave us vaccines. And without vaccines, everything today would be very different. This does not mean that one cannot and should not discuss the results of science and especially its techno-political consequences. The enormous power of experts in the public space is alarming. The possible reduction of citizens in patients and the drift of a medical health status are very clear risks in these last months. But we do not live in a “despotic regime” and must refute it. We live in a democracy that needs to be safeguarded. Many are the risks that threaten it, starting with the depoliticization of the masses. The issue of surveillance is insightful and will be a battle, because mapping is unlikely to be possible. But aren't we already being watched for much more futile reasons than a capitalism that has been imposing ways of life for a long time?

The idea that we are free and autonomous is naive. But those in the squares shout “freedom” also believe that the vaccine is a subtle alteration of the body itself, which is why they intend to avoid it. Faith in identity, in identity anger, spreads in the new right that in fact marks the protest. It is indisputable that today we live in the unusual condition in which our body can be a weapon of contagion and death for others. Precisely for this reason, it should push the place of responsibility to the forefront. This - and no other - is the message of green pass. If it is a big mistake to denigrate or insult the “no vax”.[1], if confrontation always happens, it does not seem, however, that they are second-class citizens. Discrimination is a rigid barrier. This is not the case. Unless I didn't want to say that smokers are, for example, discriminated against.

The big fight today is that of asking for vaccines for the homeless, immigrants, those without protection and above all for poor countries, where only one percent of the population is now vaccinated. Here is the discrimination: between those of the population who have the privilege of the vaccine and those who are still exposed. About the right for others to be vaccinated, it is time to mobilize.

*Donatella Di Cesare is a professor at the University “La Sapienza” in Rome. She is the author, among other books, of Resident foreigners: a philosophy of migration (Âyiné).

Translation: Carolini Dellavalle Villain.

Originally published in the newspaper The express [“Dear Agamben, dear Cacciari, la vera discriminazione è tra chi ha avuto il vaccino e chi no” – L'Espresso (repubblica.it)].

Translator's note


[1] People who are against the vaccine.

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