Cranks of a feather: The Nation of Islam and the Church of Scientology team with antivaccine activists to oppose SB 277

The saga of SB 277 just keeps getting stranger and stranger as its end game comes into view.

SB 277 is, of course, a big deal. If it’s passed by the California Assembly and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, it would eliminate nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates, making the largest state in the union only the third state that only allows medical exemptions. Since its passage by the California Senate last month and its clearing the Assembly Health Committee last week on a 12-6 vote, SB 277 has taken on the air of inevitability. Sure, it could still stall or be hopelessly watered down by the full Assembly, but that’s looking less and less likely now. It’s looking more and more likely that the bill will become law. Of course, I’ve expressed concern that Governor Brown might betray California children again by trying to tack on a religious exemption in a signing statement, as he did three years ago with AB 2109, a law designed to make personal belief exemptions to school vaccine mandates more difficult to obtain, but I hope he’s learned his lesson after that debacle.

So, as SB 277 moves towards its final fate in the Assembly, the antivaccine contingent continues to get more and more desperate. One indication of that desperation is that now they’ve thrown in their lot with the Nation of Islam, and, as longtime valued commenter and tireless battler for children’s health, Liz Ditz, points out, there’s a call out for an “emergency town meeting” tonight in Los Angeles, as shown on the Facebook page for Californians for Vaccine Choice.

Here’s the flier:

The Nation of Islam issues an antivaccine call to action. (Click to embiggen.)

The Nation of Islam issues an antivaccine call to action. (Click to embiggen.)

Our people are under attack? Not in this case. Of course you know where this is going if you’ve been a regular reader over the last year or so. (More on that later.)

And here’s the call to action:

URGENT ATTENDANCE REQUEST: LA EMERGENCY TOWN HALL MEETING

HISTORY IN THE MAKING!!! ATTEND TOWN HALL MEETING THURS, JUNE 18th!!

EMERGENCY TOWN HALL MEETING
Thursday June 18th, 2015
8038 S. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90044
at 7pm, doors open at 6:30pm

Today, Wed. June 17th, the Nation of Islam held a meeting with over 1,400 community leaders in Los Angeles. Members already battling SB277 where present and relayed that it was an electric and historic moment as a whole new community became aware of the suppressed CDC whistleblower information revealing increased risk of autism with MMR in African American boys. That vaccine manufacturers have no liability and that there are vaccine mandate laws like SB277. They must quickly take action to oppose.

They were called to Urgent Action to contact the CA Black Legislative Caucus members: http://blackcaucus.legislature.ca.gov/
To hold them accountable to protect their children and the rights of all.

Everyone is being asked to attend an Emergency Town Hall Meeting tomorrow night, June 18th, in Los Angeles. Robert F Kennedy, Jr. , Dr. Brian Hooker and Minister Tony Muhammad will all be speaking! If you can, this is an event to attend!

The Nation of Islam and CA Republican legislators are standing with us. More and more people are awakening. We stand firm!

The issues of medical mandates, vaccine safety and efficacy, segregation, discrimination, civil and religious rights, and access to education and childcare are the cornerstone of the new civil rights movement. Legislators will cast votes on bills like SB277 that will put them on the right side or the wrong side of history.

Keep reaching out so that all people and groups from all walks of life will continue to join the fight against forced vaccinations.

For the GREATEST good, we shall not be moved!

#SB277, #JusticeOrElse, #HealthChoiceAdvocate

This has been building for a while, as the antivaccine movement has apparently been courting the Nation of Islam for a while now. For instance, last week an interview with Minister Louis Farrakhan appeared in The Final Call. It covered a number of topics, but quite a lot of verbiage was devoted to vaccines, with Farrakhan stating:

Robert Kennedy Jr. was at my home a week or so ago, and Bobby Kennedy Jr. was representing a man (Dr. William Thompson) in the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) who “blew the whistle” that the CDC was responsible for developing a vaccine that is genetically prepared, or concocted, to affect Black males.* [Please refer to Simpson University biochemist Dr. Brian Hooker’s research on Translational Neurodegeneration (2014) at http://www.translationalneurodegeneration.com/content/3/1/16.

This is the Bible: “Kill the male, spare the female”—and it’s going on right now. They’ll take your baby; they’re sneaking in the ward where the baby is born, if the parents are not looking, to take the babies and inject them. What are they injecting them with? According to Bobby Kennedy, and the research, and scientists, they are injecting them with vaccines that are high in mercury. And this mercury starts eating at the cells of the brain.

They realize their world is finished! There’s no more “White Supremacy” ruling—that’s over! We are awakening now: You’re going to have to compete with awakened Black men and women, awakened Brown men and women, awakened Red men and women, and awakened poor White people! You are not going to play the game over the masses of the people anymore. And that’s why Zbigniew Brzezinski said, “it is easier to kill a million people than to control a million people.” They’ve lost control; but they’re killing through food, vaccines … I’m not saying you shouldn’t take a vaccine. But you shouldn’t be stupid and think that the same man that gave the Indians smallpox through blankets, that that same man has your interest at heart when he says “we have a vaccine for you.” You better wake up, and look up!

I’m saying Bobby Kennedy can’t get support because the pharmaceuticals have bought off Congress. Did you hear me? He can’t get a congressman, a senator, to bring him before Congress and subpoena the whistle blower from [the] CDC, because the pharmaceuticals have bought off the Congress. He said the pharmaceuticals have bought off the media. I said, “Well, what about Black preachers?”—since it’s directed against Black males—what “what are we doing?” “I’m sorry. They are not responding either,” Mr. Kennedy said. Some of us have been paid off by the pharmaceutical companies. I said, “Well what about the Congressional Black Caucus?” He said, “I’m sure they would like to help, but they are weak.” He said that’s why he showed up at my door.

Elsewhere, Minister Tony Muhammad echoes Farrakhan’s call, calling SB 277 a “heinous bill”:

Yes, Muhammad did liken the MMR vaccine to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. (More on that below, too.) He also said:

“I’m here to warn particularly those Black elected officials that we sent you up here, we want them to know that this building does not belong to them. It belongs to us,” he said. “And that in South Central Los Angeles, in two weeks, we’ll be having a tribunal meeting and we’re going to bring our Black politicians who vote for this vaccine bill up on charges of treason.”

Because helping to make sure that African-American children are protected against deadly diseases is race treason to the Nation of Islam.

Of course, one can’t help but wonder why Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is so concerned about the MMR vaccine. After all, he declares himself (risibly) “fiercely pro-vaccine” and states time and time again that he’s all about the mercury; i.e., the thimerosal preservative that used to be in most childhood vaccines but since 2002 has only been in few flu vaccines. That’s what he said ten years ago when he wrote the conspiracy laden Deadly Immunity and that’s what he’s been saying in his latest book and on The Dr. Oz Show. Here’s a hint: The MMR never had thimerosal in it because it’s a live virus vaccine. Yet, here we have RFK, Jr. joining forces with Brian Hooker, whose angle is attacking the MMR vaccine. This is a man who has earlier likened the vaccine program to the Holocaustmore than once.

Brian Hooker, for those of you who don’t remember it, took in a CDC scientist named William Thompson, who for whatever reason felt as though he needed to unburden himself and for whatever awful reasons decided to confide in Brian Hooker about what he felt to be a mistaken analysis by the CDC in an epidemiological study which Thompson was a coauthor that failed to find a correlation between MMR vaccination and autism. In a nutshell, in the raw data there was a statistical blip in a subgroup containing small numbers that led the unadjusted data to show a 3.4-fold increased risk of autism in African American boys associated with MMR. Of course, as I put it at the time, even if Hooker were correct (he wasn’t), he had basically just proven Andrew Wakefield mostly wrong because there wasn’t even a whiff of a hit of a correlation in any other subgroup. In any case, as you might imagine, Hooker used some truly incompetent statistics, analyzing data from a case control study as a cohort study, which any first year epidemiology student other than Jake Crosby would be able to tell you is a no-no. Heck, I’m not an epidemiologist or statistician and I can tell you it’s a no-no. In any case, Brian Hooker taped his phone conversations with William Thompson, and Andrew Wakefield learned of the existence of these recordings.

The result was a video every bit as nasty as all the Holocaust analogies flying around about the vaccine program, in which Wakefield likened the MMR vaccine to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, complete with lurid pictures of patients suffering from advanced syphilis and the introduction of Peter Buxton, the Public Health Service investigator who blew the whistle on the experiment. The “malfeasance” being claimed is that the CDC supposedly covered up the link between MMR and autism in African American boys, hence the puffed up rhetoric about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. The video even concludes with the sheer Godwin-y goodness (from an entertainment standpoint) of references to the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, because, I guess, autism is just like the mass murder of millions, at least in the minds of Wakefield supporters. Thus was born the “CDC whistleblower” pseudo-scandal, which the antivaccine movement tried to flog as the “smoking gun” evidence that the CDC has either failed or targeted African-American boys with its evil autism-causing MMR vaccine. Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker even went so far as to complain to the CDC, in the process portraying Thompson as a rather fragile, weak person who cracked under pressure, a portrayal that probably has more than a grain of truth to it, given his behavior.

It’s also amusing to note that the paper cited by Louis Farrakhan in the video is the very same paper by Hooker that was so bad that it was retracted by the journal. Before that, he had made a video describing his work:

Money quote:

So I reanalyzed the dataset using what is a very, very simple statistical technique. I think that in statistics simplicity is elegance. And I’m not really that smart; so I like to do simple, easy things rather than much more intellectually challenging things. So I did the simplest, most straightforward analysis, which is a Chi Squared analysis…

Here’s a hint: In statistics, the simplest analysis is often not the correct analysis, and, boy, was this the case for Hooker’s reanalysis of the DeStefano et al dataset! He didn’t control for simple confounders. He did a crappy statistical analysis. He botched the analysis in pretty much every way possible.

I can’t for the life of me figure out how antivaccinationists opposing SB 277 think that teaming up with the Nation of Islam will help them. I really can’t. The Nation of Islam is well known as a crank organization. Indeed, the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented extensively its anti-Semitism, depiction of white people as “devils” (which no doubt facilitated its believing the CDC whistleblower conspiracy theory), and its association with hate groups and authoritarian regimes. As if being racist, anti-Semitic admirers of Hitler weren’t enough, of late the Nation of Islam has forged an alliance with the Church of Scientology, even to the point of apparently having merged with it. (Note that the advertised town hall meeting will be taking place at the Scientology Cultural Center.) Amusingly, the SPLC drolly characterizes this relationship thusly:

Two of America’s better known UFO-friendly religions, Scientology and the black nationalist Nation of Islam (NOI), now have more in common than unusual theologies involving intergalactic spaceships. For about a year, NOI leader Louis Farrakhan has been telling his followers to embrace Scientology in order to move closer to perfection in preparation for the end times.

According to a May 31 article in Final Call, NOI’s newspaper, nearly 700 NOI members have become Certified Hubbard Dianetics Auditors, and more will soon be trained in Church of Scientology (COS) techniques “to prepare better servants and saviours of the people by helping to clear up their minds and lives.” COS “auditors” supposedly help people ascend to higher levels of consciousness.

So let’s see. Brian Hooker and RFK, Jr. are now reduced to peddling their pseudoscientific, child-endangering nonsense to a racist hate group that has arguably recently become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Church of Scientology. Both religions are known as UFO religions (the Nation of Islam believes in the “mother plane“; Scientology, Xenu), and from what I’ve been able to determine, the Nation of Islam would not be able to organize an event like this without the approval of the leadership of the Church of Scientology, particularly given that their town hall meeting will take place on Scientology property.

And antivaccinationists hope that this will sway African-American legislators to oppose SB 277… exactly how? This new association with the Nation of Islam is going to help the anti-SB 277 cause. . .exactly how? Truly, the stench of desperation hangs heavy in the air, and crank magnetism is in bloom. The Nation of Islam, the Church of Scientology, and the antivaccine movement: Three crappy tastes that taste crappy together. They deserve each other.