The far-right Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has provoked anger by comparing people who refuse the Covid-19 vaccine to victims of HIV facing stigma.
Ms Greene, who represents northwestern Georgia in the US House of Representatives, was attempting to defend National Basketball Association (NBA) athletes who have been banned from play until they get the vaccine.
“The fascist NBA won’t let Kyrie Irving play for refusing a vaccine… yet they still let Magic Johnson play with HIV,” said Ms Greene on Twitter on Thursday, referencing former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr.
But HIV can only spread between humans through direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood and semen, whereas Covid-19 is spread mainly by airborne fluid particles expelled by infected people whenever they breathe, cough, sneeze, shout or sing.
Ms Greene’s tweet echoed longstanding popular myths about HIV, whose victims have often been shunned and discriminated against despite posing little risk of infecting others.
Magic Johnson immediately retired from the NBA when he tested positive for the virus in 1991. Though he later returned for special and international games, some of his fellow players resisted it, claiming he could infect them if he was wounded during play.
Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving is one of several NBA players who has refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19, meaning he is legally barred from indoor events in the Nets’ home town of New York City.
In an Instagram live stream on Wednesday, Mr Irving said: “This is not a political thing; this is not about the NBA, not about any organisation. This is about my life and what I am choosing to do…
“This is my life. I get to do whatever I want with this, this is one body that I get here. And you are telling me what to do with my body.
“It is not about being anti-vax or about being on one side or the other. It is just really about being true to what feels good for me… if I am going to be demonised for having more questions and taking my time to make a decision with my life, that is just what it is.”
Ms Greene is known for her intense opposition to Covid mask and vaccine laws, which she has likened to the persecution of Jews by Nazi Germany, and her support for extremist movements such as QAnon, which advocates for a military coup and the execution of senior Democrats.
Before running for Congress, she liked Facebook posts suggesting that House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi should be assassinated, and claimed in a live stream that Ms Pelosi would soon “suffer death or be in prison”.
Source by www.independent.co.uk