The American Anti-Vaxxer COVID Dead: A Dynamic Chronicle of Failed Sacrifices


Unlike earlier pandemics, where a “politics of blame” was directed against those who spread infection, the COVID pandemic in the United States has created occasions for the deployment of a “politics of commendation” for performing acts of sacrifice. Frontline healthcare workers have been celebrated for sacrificing themselves in service to their patients, even as critics have charged their being hapless victims of “social murder” at the hands of irresponsible medical administrators. Governmental officials, notably in Texas, have also recommended the elderly to refuse COVID care, die and thus sacrifice themselves selflessly for the benefit of the younger generation. Lately, COVID vaccine-refusal has been seen as an act of noble political sacrifice—typically to further individual liberty against the coercive power of the Federal government’s promotion or mandating of vaccination. Anti-vaxxers embracing the role of such political sacrifices, however, generally fail to realize this aspiration, insofar they are often just culpable of their own demise by neglecting public health advisories. Furthermore, the partisan politicization of their deaths militates against the normal recognition of their being sacrifices. Party political calculations have frequently demanded denial of the COVID origins of the anti-vaxxer deaths, and also effectively eliminated any normal attendant rites of reciprocation, memorialization or sacralization of the victims, typical of sacrifices, proper.

Author Biography

Ivan Strenski, University of California, Riverside, USA

Ivan Strenski is Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies, University of California, Riverside. Author of 15 books and over 100 articles, his latest book Muslims, Islams and Occidental Anxieties: Conversations about Islamophobia (Cambridge: Ethics International Press, 2022) should soon be available in paperback and Google Play e-book editions. His Substack site “Immodest Proposals by Strenski” is currently under-construction.


How to Cite
Strenski, I. (2023). The American Anti-Vaxxer COVID Dead: A Dynamic Chronicle of Failed Sacrifices. Changing Societies & Personalities, 7(1), 11–32. doi:10.15826/csp.2023.7.1.216