How 'right-wing anti-vaxxer' conspiracy theorists have targeted East Palestine residents: report
More than a month after the derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials, East Palestine, Ohio is still facing a health and environmental nightmare. Residents of the Rust Belt town, which is about 40 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, have been complaining of headaches, nausea, skin rashes and other problems.
Liberals and progressives have been describing East Palestine as a wake-up call on the need for corporate responsibility, tough environmental regulations and universal health care, while MAGA Republicans have been using the crisis to attack President Joe Biden and Transportation Security Pete Buttigieg. Some on the MAGA far-right — including former President Donald Trump, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk — have painted East Palestine as a racial issue, claiming that Democrats are neglecting the Ohio town because its residents are mostly white, conservative, blue collar and working class.
A Florida-based group called The Wellness Company has promised to provide free health care for East Palestine residents suffering the effects of the February 3 train derailment. In a February 27 press release, Wellness Company Chairman Foster Coulson declared, "I founded this company to put patients before profits, and that is exactly what we are doing."
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"Patients before profits" is the type of phrase one expects to hear from someone with progressive politics such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York). All of them are outspoken proponents of universal health care via a government-operated single-payer system. But The Wellness Company, journalist Kiera Butler emphasizes in an article published by Mother Jones on March 7, is neither liberal nor progressive.
In fact, its membership includes right-wing anti-vaxxer conspiracy theorists.
According to Butler, "The Wellness Company is not just an ordinary medical practice of community-minded physicians. Rather, it is a new company that says it is part of the right-wing 'medical freedom' movement — which sees government interference in health care as dangerous. Over the last three years of the pandemic, the movement has grown as it opposes vaccine requirements and public health protections."
The Mother Jones reporter notes that The Wellness Company's chief scientific officer, Dr. Peter McCullough, is a controversial cardiologist "who has garnered a massive following for his warnings about the supposed dangers of the COVID vaccines." Members of The Wellness Company have enjoyed favorable coverage from right-wing media, including Carlson and Alex Jones' Infowars. And Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, appointed by far-right Gov. Ron DeSantis, is an ally of The Wellness Company's Harvey Risch.
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"Because of his statements about the vaccines, the American Board of Internal Medicine recommended last year that Dr. McCullough be stripped of his board certifications in internal medicine," Butler points out. "The Wellness Company's senior advisor is Dr. Paul Alexander, a former Trump official who participated in the anti-vaccine trucker convoys and called for officials who promoted the COVID vaccines to be imprisoned."
READ MORE: Paul Krugman: Why 'vile racist conspiracy theories' on Ohio train derailment 'make no logical sense'
Read Mother Jones’ full report at this link.
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