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Biden in Tulsa.

Ugly Americans on Cruises

I’m still following the YouTubers covering the cruise lines stand-off with Ron DeSantis. You can learn a lot about how the refuseniks think from the comments sections. Let me recap what the arguments are and what the fall out is.

The Fallout So Far: Your cruise is less likely to be cancelled if you’re cruising to or from Alaska or sailing out of some other port like Galveston or Charleston. Florida is so uncertain right now that cruisers are reluctant to commit to a cruise. Norwegian Cruise Lines has already cancelled most of their cruises out of the Dominican Republic. Their reason stated is that it’s difficult to staff ships right now so they’re putting all their effort into getting their Alaska cruises up and running. Also, Americans appear to prefer direct access to American ports for embarkation. If you read between the lines, NCL looks like it tried to avoid Florida by starting their cruises in the DR. But they ran into logistical problems with staffing there and have decided to wait out the Florida standoff in Alaska.

“Ron DeSantis is my hero”: I’ve run into commenters on YouTube who are pretty irate that anyone has the nerve or legal right to keep them from doing whatever the f}#% they want on a cruise. Here’s the breakdown.

1.) “I’m not getting the vaccine because it’s EXPERIMENTAL. It hasn’t been shown to be safe in animal testing. I won’t get it for me or my family until maybe next year at the earliest after I see how many vaccinated people have died from it so the cruise lines are being unfair to me and DeSantis is putting them in their place on my behalf so there.”

Of all Ugly American excuses, this one makes me the least sympathetic. This excuse is fueled by Fear, Uncertainty and Dread. It’s a well known propaganda technique so thank you Tucker Carlson and all you anti-vaxxers.

Why it’s inexcusable: well, for one, the vaccines that are being dispensed have been approved by the FDA. They passed all three phases of clinical trials, albeit on a compressed timeline due to the urgent nature of the pandemic. I’m not going to debate anyone on the technicalities of emergency use authorizations after a vaccine has passed phase 3. That threshhold is the more important one.

What this reason exposes is the cowardly and selfish thinking of the refusenik. They’re perfectly happy that the vaccinated act as their guinea pigs in the next year. Yep, we need to go first to make sure it’s safe. Then the refusenik *might* get a vaccine. In the meantime, can we allow these valiant volunteers in vaccine experimentation go on cruises where they can walk around the ship unmasked because they don’t have to deal with unvaccinated passengers who almost certainly will not abide by the honor system? Can we count on the unvaccinated to sit this year out so the vaccinated can test the system and allow the cruise ships to make money in the casinos, excursions, spas and specialty dining?

No, the unvaccinated cruiser will not allow this. They get to cruise too and if everyone is inconvenienced, tough. That’s why they love DeSantis. He is standing up for their right to be righteous assholes.

2.) “It’s all the CDC’s fault. If it weren’t for them, the cruise lines would operate in business as usual mode. That’s why DeSantis has to step in to free the cruise lines from the oppression of the federal nanny state that insists on crushing business.”

If that were the case, we should see the ships begging DeSantis to enforce the law he signed last week. They too would be acting like the CDC is ruining their business.

In fact, the opposite is true. The cruise lines are operating in the rest of the world in two modes: all vaccinated or all masked and socially distant regardless of vaccine status. There is a lot less money being made on the ships where unvaccinated people are onboard because of the protocols they need to enforce and the areas of the ship that they have had to close, like the spas. Celebrity cruises says they will only do vaccinated cruises. They’re in negotiations with DeSantis to avoid putting any unvaccinated passengers on their ships. They’re not blaming the CDC. They seem to be in agreement with it, probably as a result of the bitter and costly experiences they had in 2020. It’s DeSantis and the select group of people he is championing that don’t seem to be in compliance with the rest of the world. Pointing this out will get you called a “globalist”. Somehow, that word is an insult that is supposed to make us vaccinated people feel bad but, strangely, it does not. It’s weird what right wing news junkies are finding offensive to the rest of us. Go figure.

3.) “Making me produce a shot card is like being asked to show my papers when the American gestapo demands it. It’s a slippery slope to losing all our freedoms.”

So, millions of Florida school children who want to learn to read in a free public school are actually having their privacy brutally violated for this privilege. They are living in the equivalent of a concentration camp. Funny story, my kid once compared her English teacher’s class to a detention camp and I admired her use of satirical hyperbole and we had a good laugh about it. But I thought she should do her assignments anyway.

For some reason, right wing oriented adults fail to see how ridiculous this comparison is.

Also, the shot card has no information about how much you drink, what your cholesterol level is or how many times you’ve been treated for gonorrhea (I’m talking to you retirees living in The Villages which reportedly has a very busy STD clinic). One commenter tried to convince me that once they get access to your shot card, they’re going to want to know your blood sugar level and A1C. I kid you not. That was an actual conversation I had. After I pointed out to him that diabetes is not contagious, he said I was missing the point and he wasn’t going to argue any further. Good. That kind of humiliation could be damaging to his self-esteem.

(Aside: American businesses are already doing this to some extent. They contract with wellness programs to evaluate an employee’s vitals, lab test results, obesity and fitness levels. Then they create incentives or punishments to make you do or stop doing things. Do you smoke? Baaaaad. You get charged more for insurance. Are you in a running program. Good! You get more money in your HSA. So, the stasi is already here, people. The thing is, cruise ships ain’t got time for that.)

All your shot card has on it is the date when you got your vaccines and, contrary to popular belief, HIPPA does not prohibit you from sharing this information with a cruise line. Instead, proof of vaccination is also proof of good faith. It’s an exchange of formalities that give the business owner assurance that you will be a responsible patron. You wouldn’t expect a cruise line to let you on the ship if you don’t have the money to pay for the cruise, right? There’s a price for letting you, the passenger, sail on a private vessel that does not belong to you. It’s not the United States Navy, which has stricter vaccine protocols, by the way.

In other words, it’s their ship. They can demand any document they want. They demand your passport with all kinds of private information on it like your address and next of kin. They demand some passengers buy travel insurance this year. Non-paying passengers are not allowed to muscle paying passengers out of nice cabins nor are they allowed to be fed for free. We have transactions with conditions and nobody in their right mind would expect special treatment if they didn’t have the money or right citizenship information to board a cruise ship. Immunization status is no different. This is not discrimination or political oppression. I realize that right wing politicians see a benefit in telling the unvaccinated that somehow the surveillance state is going to out oppress the Stasi but millions of school children show that this simply isn’t true.

A cruise ship demanding a shot card is not the slippery slope to the gas chamber. You want to know what is? Restricting the ability of citizens to vote out the party of politicians who are not acting in good faith or responding to their constituents’ concerns.

See the difference? (Spoiler alert: the unvaccinated traveler does not see the difference.)

4.) “Well, *I* served in the US Military!” Great! Why don’t you book a cruise on the VA’s cruise line?

Can we stop hero worshipping military people, please? We have all been bullied into accepting their dictatorial attitudes of some of them because of their service in protecting our freedoms. Somehow, the most conservative, patriarchal Neanderthals use that as an excuse to throw their weight around and deny those very same freedoms to those people they have been given permission to hate. And I say this as a navy brat whose father was career military. MY dad was a super decent guy with no vices that I know of and a non-partisan approach to serving his country in a largely non-combat but extremely important role. There are a lot of such men and women who serve their country without feeling the need to constantly call attention to themselves. Yes, it’s very serious to offer to lay down your life for your country. Most of our military recruits come from minority or underprivileged neighborhoods. They’re the ones who deserve our respect and the best way to respect them is to not restrict their right to vote. That’s the reason all the chest thumpers say they served, right? To protect our freedoms? They should practice what their big mouths preach.

Those freedoms do not include bullying a private company into allowing you to commandeer their ships and inconvenience the responsible passengers who got a vaccine to protect themselves and the rest of the world from a spreading pandemic. That’s piracy. Those freedoms do entitle the bearer to vote and give their uninformed and nonsensical arguments on social media platforms, and worship in rabidly evangelical churches who ignore the poor as undeserving because they did not follow the prosperity gospel. That’s in the Constitution. We largely put up with outrageous and untrue speech because that is the price we pay for democracy.

But a public health protocol is not undemocratic. It deprives no one of freedom. No one is discriminated against if they want to get a vaccine. The country is giving it away to everyone free of charge regardless of everything but age at this time. There is nothing preventing the ex-military cruiser from getting one. And the cruise lines are more likely to run only all vaccinated or all masked cruises to prevent discrimination based on vaccine status so WHAT EXACTLY IS THE PROBLEM HERE??

Bottom line: There are a lot of MAGA heads out there who are existing in a mental space that tells them they are special people. This specialness entitles them to overlook the feelings, needs, and freedom of all the other people in the world who threaten to inconvenience them in the slightest degree. It doesn’t matter to the unvaccinated right wing DeSantis follower whether their behavior and attitudes will prevent vaccinated passengers from enjoying their cruises in the least restrictive and maskless environment they paid good money for. It doesn’t matter that they may force a cruise to end early or prevent other passengers from going on excursions in other countries. It doesn’t matter that their attitudes are going to cost businesses onboard, and support and provisioning businesses in their own country, millions and perhaps BILLIONS of dollars in lost revenue, cancellations, unemployment, etc.

All they care about is that they were made to feel like special people who do not need to acknowledge the needs or even the presence of other people who they have been assured do not count. That is a form of cultural narcissism. But it’s one that cruise ships are not contractually obligated to bend to. The customer is always right has its limits in a pandemic whether the unvaccinated like it or not.

They do not like it. The do not like it that some rules apply to them regardless of their deeply held indoctrinated views and emotional responses to fabricated threats to their freedoms. Mostly they don’t like it that some authority can make them do something they think is stupid and that they just don’t want to do, like actually care about the health and well being of other beings who they do not acknowledge to be sentient. They don’t like it that reality is finally having an unpleasant impact on their ability to throw their weight around. It’s cold and does not care about their unique and deserving super patriotic specialness and unquenchable immune system. It’s socialism, they cry, as they clutch their social security checks and Medicare cards. It’s the first time since Fox News went on the air that someone has bothered to look past their seniority or military service or public displays of piety or politics to tell them “No” and they are carrying on like their equally narcissistic, selfish and immature leaders, insisting they must get their way no matter what. If they can’t get onboard by their own terms and demands then the cruise lines are acting like they are working for an international socialist gulag syndicate.

Who wants to cruise with people like that?