Anti-vaccine ideology has roots in white supremacy, according to right-wing extremism expert Jeff Sherlet.

While appearing on MSNBC’s “All in With Chris Hayes” last night, Sherlet joined a conversation regarding politicians’ seemingly indifferent attitude towards vaccination. Speaking in regards to former U.S. president Donald Trump getting booed at his rally in response to advising the audience get vaccinated, host Chris Hayes said: “It’s like, ‘I don’t know, what do you guys want? You want the vaccines? You don’t want the vaccines?’ He’s catering to the crowd, he’s not telling them. This stuff is not coming from him, it’s coming from somewhere else.”

In response, Sherlet, a writer and philosopher who specialises in right-wing extremism, explained that historically, the anti-vaccine movement has largely been based on the false belief that white people have “natural immunity” due to their claimed superior genes. Therefore, white supremacists — or those who empathise with white supremacist ideology — often convince themselves that they don’t “need” to be vaccinated.

“While we focus on Trump, on DeSantis, on Greg Abbott, we focus on these villains, we have to recognize that this kind of anti-vaccination hysteria has deep historical roots in the right,” Sherlet said. “It goes back to the 19th century where you start encountering terms like ‘medical tyranny’, ‘medical liberty,’ ‘natural immunity,’ and then, it’s conflated with whiteness.”

“This idea that white people somehow, through their good genes — ‘very good genes,’ as Trump would put it — have that immunity,” he continued.

“So Trump, DeSantis, Abbot, all these folks are pulling on a right wing populous and a religious thread of American life, and pulling it horribly into the present. They didn’t invent it. They exploited it.”

Watch the full conversation here.

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