Author’s Note: As a public service, I’m going to lay off our Dictator-in-Chief … this time. Considering the fact that he continues to lead with his chin, it won’t be easy. Instead, I’m going after a member of his Lackey Squad that isn’t even part of the mainstream media, at least not yet. I usually reserve my commentaries on the juvenile inanity of Harvard Business Review (HBR) for the O’Brien Communications Group blog. But sometimes even HBR manages to outdo itself. When that happens, all bets are off.
I’d like you to read the paragraph below. Then I’d like you to think about it. After that, please read it again and think about it some more:
To bring the pandemic under control, almost everyone needs to come to see getting vaccinated as the unquestioned, right thing to do for themselves and for others. What business leaders decide about Covid-19 vaccine mandates will go a long way toward fostering the social norms … When a company mandates Covid-19 vaccinations, the normative information they provide is that these vaccinations are safe and effective … over time this becomes the shared understanding … when companies don’t mandate vaccination, it delegitimizes the Covid-19 vaccines by suggesting that the science is unsettled.
I can’t dismiss that. I can’t regard it as a piece of innocuous fluff. I can’t see it as a COVID hack: “Do this, and we’ll free the planet of communicable disease.” I can’t accept it at face value and move on. It’s deliberate. It’s political. It’s pernicious. It’s authoritarian. It reflects the state of the world in which it seems more and more of us are living complacently and without question. And I continue to believe, however stubbornly or quixotically, that words have meaning.
I know what you’re thinking: “Dude. Come on. You just copied and pasted some stuff from 1984 and plugged in business leaders, company, companies, and COVID-19 in there in a few places.” Don’t I wish.
I also didn’t copy and paste it from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Mother Jones, The Huffington Post, Vox, Slate, Daily Kos, or The National Enquirer. You’d be forgiven for thinking it came from any of those, especially the last. But no. It came straight out of that apotheosis of faux-intellectual, pseudo-intellectual ideology, Harvard Business Review (HBR) in an article entitled, “Why Business Leaders Need to Mandate the Covid-19 Vaccine”.
That’s right. The fog of academia has become the new fog of war. The difference is, in the fog of war, the bad guys aren’t acting like the good guys. And only Gomer Pyle would fall for it if they were.
Yes. If the devil is in the details (he is), language is one of his favorite hiding places. So, let’s look at the language of this ideological diatribe. And let’s start with the language of the title, specifically this: Need to mandate. Its authoritarian tone notwithstanding, you have to wonder if HBR is willing to go halfsies on the liability insurance for those businesses it’s telling what to do — or to pony up for the legal expenses those businesses will incur when they’re sued after someone gets sick or dies from the alleged vaccine.
Then there’s this: Almost everyone needs to come to see getting vaccinated as the unquestioned, right thing to do for themselves and for others. The authors of this political trash are Marianne Cooper, a senior research scholar at the VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab at Stanford University, and Maxim Voronov, professor of organization studies at the Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto. Is there a doctor in the house?
I wonder what Marianne and Max would think if I wrote this: Almost everyone named Marianne or Max needs to come to see gargling with razor blades as the unquestioned, right thing to do for themselves and for others. Okay. Maybe that’s a tad extreme. How about this? Almost everyone named Marianne or Max needs to come to see getting an annual flu shot as the unquestioned, right thing to do for themselves and for others. Would that fly? Why don’t business leaders have to mandate flu shots?
Here’s a beauty: What business leaders decide about Covid-19 vaccine mandates will go a long way toward fostering the social norms. Huh? Business leaders foster social norms? Since when? Do you wonder what industries Marianne and Max think those business leaders should come from? It’s a pretty safe bet oil and coal wouldn’t make the list.
Next up: When a company mandates Covid-19 vaccinations, the normative information they provide is that these vaccinations are safe and effective … over time this becomes the shared understanding. Unless they don’t. When they don’t, the company loses employees. And when that happens, quitting — rather than submitting to forced injections — becomes the normative information.
And here’s my favorite: When companies don’t mandate vaccination, it delegitimizes the Covid-19 vaccines by suggesting that the science is unsettled. Settled science is an oxymoron, an impossibility. Calling science settled delegitimizes science. Settled science is synonymous with ideology, which is exactly what Marianne, Max, and HBR are peddling.
Lowering the Bar
I wouldn’t take business advice from HBR, which now publishes statements of the obvious for pre-teens who read at a first-grade level. So, there’s less than a filet mignon’s chance in a phone booth full of Pit Bulls that I’ll be taking medical advice from HBR.
I have visions of the Founding Fathers flopping in their graves like so many gaffed flounder. A mere 232 years from the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, their grand experiment in individual liberty has been reduced to a bloated, dysfunctional, dictatorial government run by mercenary political fat cats and sycophantic functionaries with their fingers in every conceivable pie. Add a brain-dead mainstream media that peddles prevailing narratives on command, and here we are.
You’ve been warned kids. Now that we have all that out of the way, now that HBR is in the business of politics and prescriptions, and now that business leaders will be mandating COVID shots and taking the lead on establishing social norms, we should be good to go.
If you refuse to get the shot, where would you like your morale-boosting beating to be administered?
Our wish is your command.