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The Purge: Call Me Ishmael


For the last 27 years I have been a professor at Boston College, teaching a mix of literature and writing courses to thousands of students. Then along came the booster mandates.

When the initial vaccines came out, my wife and I received ours. We had strong reservations about the mRNA vaccines and had decided we weren’t going to get one. However, my getting a vaccine was a condition of employment. We weighed our decision carefully. It was the J&J, or early retirement. 

We were prepared to live with whatever the gods had in store, and had actually started thinking about how to fill in the hours. As luck would have it, the vaccine on offer that day was the J&J. 

We sat down and rolled up our sleeves. 

Subsequent information about vaccine efficacy and side effects, of the J&J as well as the others, made us regret getting that injection. But it was done. And I was still employed. 

Early last December, very few, if any, universities had a booster requirement. Then something happened. The CDC sent up one of its smoke signals, or Dr. Rachel melted down again on TV. Whatever the case, universities, “following the science,” issued a booster mandate. 

I began teaching in spring semester, hoping that as the weeks went along and more information about the pointlessness of getting the booster shot came out, administrators, and the doctors whispering in their ears, would come to their senses. This is called self-deception.

Every other week I received an email telling me to update my vaccine record. I ignored them. At Boston College, parents, students and alumni had put together a petition signed by some 900 people. 

That, in addition to stories of students suffering from myocarditis—I had one student who received a booster waiver because the initial vaccine had done something to his heart muscle—made me hope the booster mandate would be removed, or at the very least, moderated down to “encouragement.” 

Not so. A characteristic of people who don’t know what they are doing is to double down. 

And double down they did.

Eight months after we were vaccinated, my wife and I became Covid “breakthrough” cases. The virus was mild, a day or two of feeling tired. Of course, we right away started taking ivermectin. And, of course, we passed the virus on to two other fully vaccinated people. 

I was aware that some researchers thought that if you had been vaccinated and then subsequently contracted Covid, getting a booster shot, at best, was pointless; at worst, it might be harmful. 

The remarks of Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO, and citizen of the world, when he said the vaccines offered only “limited protection” against the Omicron variant served to underline my “resistance.” 

I was convinced “the science” was on my side.

The Dean insisted “the science” was on his side. I’ll let him speak for himself: “If you fail to provide HR with proof of having received your COVID booster shot before the end of the day on Friday, February 25th, you will be suspended without pay and renewal of your contract will be placed in jeopardy.” 

The tone is one bullies use on recalcitrant children. Power corrupts.

Well, I was done. The school and department narrative was that I had abandoned my students. This assumes the university had no other options. They had at least two, one of which would have been to compel me to get a PCR test every time I showed up on campus. 

They had other ideas. 

I subsequently received a FedEx letter from the President of the University in which he said that “my refusal [to obtain a COVID-19 booster] jeopardizes the health and well-being of our academic community,” a statement so contrary to epidemiological facts as to be risible.

But this is what we are up against. 

This is my small story, one of thousands. This isn’t about science. If it was about science, we never would have attempted to shut down our economy. This is about power, and politics. The mandates are just another face of the political correctness that is crippling our universities.

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  • George O'Har

    George O’Har is an MIT Ph.D., Air Force veteran, and former electrical engineer. At Boston College, he taught courses on Literature and Technology, Utopia, Creative Writing, Creative Non-Fiction and American Literary History

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