See the right-wing diatribes falsely comparing vaccine mandates to the Nazis

In fact, the Nazis withheld vaccines from conquered populations — and spread propaganda that vaccines were bad

Right-wing media personalities have relentlessly pushed a disgusting set of talking points comparing present-day vaccine requirements to the atrocities of Nazi Germany — a comparison that is not only wrong in ethical terms, but also contrary to the actual history of Nazi policies on vaccines.

The commentators spreading this message have included Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson, Infowars’ Alex Jones; podcast host Joe Rogan; religious right broadcaster David Brody; YouTuber Steven Crowder and his co-hosts; One America News Network host Dan Ball; and others. (And just to top it off, Fox host Will Cain has compared vaccine requirements to life under East Germany’s post-war communist regime.)

In fact, Nazi Germany overturned the mandatory vaccination laws it had inherited from the earlier Weimar Republic. The regime also deliberately withheld vaccines from conquered peoples, with Adolf Hitler explaining that providing such benefits would “would result only in an enormous increase in local populations.” Furthermore, Hitler told his chief of staff to propagandize against vaccines for this very reason: “No inoculations and other preventative measures for the natives! We must even try to stifle any desire for such things by persuading them that vaccination and the like are really most dangerous.”

Oddly enough, Fox News’ Carlson has pursued a dual-pronged approach: On the one hand, he has fearmongered against “eugenics” and warned that “whites would go last” in line for the vaccines. But at the same time, he has compared universal vaccine requirements to “what the Imperial Japanese Army and the Nazis did in their medical experiments.” And, of course, Fox News is waging a propaganda campaign telling its own viewers that the vaccines are dangerous, while the company also practices a strict vaccine and testing regimen for itself.

And in a truly outrageous comparison, multiple right-wing hosts including Jones and Brody have invoked the Nuremberg Code, a set of medical ethics adopted in the wake of Nazi war crimes including medical experimentation on concentration camp inmates. These claims about vaccines have circulated online since mid-2020, before the COVID-19 vaccines had even become widely available.

In fact, the codes do not declare that medical care such as vaccines “could never be imposed on anyone,” as Carlson claimed — if that were true, it would prohibit all the other vaccine requirements that already exist for schoolchildren. Instead, the Nuremburg Code was formed in response to the gruesome and evil medical experiments the Nazi regime forcibly conducted on concentration camp prisoners, who were often murdered immediately afterward if the experiment itself did not kill them.

As a result, the Nuremberg Code’s text governs the circumstances of any medical experiments on human subjects, and says they must involve only subjects who have consented and be conducted under circumstances that would “avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury.” The COVID-19 vaccines are no longer experimental, precisely because they went through vigorous testing on volunteer subjects as required by medical ethics.

And just to make it clear how outrageous this comparison really is — and how people like Carlson, Jones, and Brody are trafficking in sheer historical ignorance — consider exactly the sort of conduct the Nazis committed, to which the Nuremberg Code was written in response:

For the benefit of the German Army, whose frontline soldiers suffered greatly from gas gangrene, a type of progressive gangrene, doctors at the Ravensbruck concentration camp performed studies to test the effectiveness of sulfanilamide and other drugs in curbing such infections. They inflicted battlefield-like wounds in victims, then infected the wounds with bacteria such as streptococcus, tetanus, and gas gangrene. The doctors aggravated the resulting infection by rubbing ground glass and wood shavings into the wound, and they tied off blood vessels on either side of the injury to simulate what would happen to an actual war wound. Victims suffered intense agony and serious injury, and some of them died as a result.

In short, to compare a vaccination campaign providing the public with lifesaving drugs to the genuine war crimes against captive subjects that gave birth to the Nuremberg Code is simply a moral abomination.