Ethan J. Lindenberger is a teen activist who speaks out against anti-vaxxers, the people discouraging parents across the U.S. to not vaccinate their kids. Anti-vaxxers are responsible for the return of measles outbreaks and looming fears about eradicated diseases like polio making a comeback. They also like to spread ableist misinformation about vaccines causing autism and mercury being in the shots themselves. It’s definitely an issue worth speaking out about.
Listen to @j_lindenberger, a teenage vaccine champion from the 🇺🇸, who educated himself about #vaccines from science-based sources. He knows that #VaccinesWork, even though he was raised to think the opposite. The power of education, the power of science, the power of vaccines! pic.twitter.com/Ua9KHCTiKC— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) September 12, 2019
But because Lindenberger does talks, travels, and advocates with the sole purpose of taking down anti-vaxxers, he’s become something of a target for them. On Friday, he tweeted that a group of anti-vaxxers held a rally on 9/11 for “dead children” and his photo was included:
It would seem that an antivaxx rally on 9/11 had a candle light vigil for dead children...and my picture was included pic.twitter.com/3zsJZtuzWU— Ethan J. Lindenberger (@j_lindenberger) September 14, 2019
There is a lot going on in this image. Why the upside-down American flag? Why 9/11? These are not kids who died on 9/11, they’re kids who “died” because of vaccines, I think? But Lindenberger isn’t a kid? Or dead?
The image has gone viral, because it’s both sad and funny and emblematic of the insane logic of the anti-vaxxer movement:
Tragic isn’t it. And so sudden too— Ethan J. Lindenberger (@j_lindenberger) September 14, 2019
Nani?!— Ethan J. Lindenberger (@j_lindenberger) September 14, 2019
Tragic... Tragic...— Tin Foil Awards (@TinFoilAwards) September 14, 2019
A few people have tweeted at Lindenberger that the event was for the “vaccine injured,” not necessarily the dead, but you can see the conspiracy galaxy brain worms in their responses, like this guy who implies Lindenberger photoshopped his own image into the rally picture, or something:
Ah, a vigil for a thing that doesn't exist. How worthwhile.— A Kind Of Computer Ghost (@EsserZed) September 15, 2019
Lindenberg also shared some of the harassment he has received after pointing out the image, including people who said it was there because they were “praying for what’s left of your soul.”
Well ok then pic.twitter.com/R5y6QjIOwd— Ethan J. Lindenberger (@j_lindenberger) September 14, 2019
And again, antivaxxers make themselves look like fools with this nonsense pic.twitter.com/QIMqVA71rq— Ethan J. Lindenberger (@j_lindenberger) September 15, 2019
It’s pretty shocking that the anti-vaxxer movement has such a hold on so many communities. People would rather see their kids get whooping cough than listen to a doctor. It’s great that someone as level-headed as Lindenberger is taking a stand, but too bad that the kids have to be the adults now.