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NYT Columnist Writes Off Critiques Of Big Food And Big Pharma As Right-Wing New Ageism

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Cue the next column from a newspaper writing off efforts by some to preserve their health as an exercise in right-wing Christian nationalism.


New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg tried to piece together why so many people appear drawn to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Her answer: “Terrified Parents, New Age Health Nuts, [and] MAGA Exiles.”

“While there are still some progressive figures in Kennedy’s orbit, his campaign has an increasingly right-wing vibe,” Goldberg wrote in a column published Thursday. Goldberg referenced Kennedy’s support for border security, his willingness to go on Fox News, and a vice presidential pick who “was never all that left-wing.” Equally at the heart of Kennedy’s appeal to cross-partisan voters, Goldberg insisted, is an element of esoteric New Ageism focused on “alternative health.”

“Some strains of New Age wellness culture — with its distrust of mainstream expertise, moralistic view of health and weakness for quackery — have long intersected with right-wing politics,” Goldberg wrote, noting in parentheses that Alex Jones’s empire was built on health supplements. “The connection between alternative medicine and conservatism grew significantly stronger during the pandemic, as the center of gravity in the anti-vaccine movement moved rightward, while longtime right-wingers grew increasingly mistrustful of Big Pharma, and with it, Big Food.”

But if Americans are serious about their health, conventional drug-based medicine would become the “alternative” to adequate sunlight, physical movement, and eating free of forever chemicals. Yet somehow she links lifestyles aimed at keeping us out of the doctor’s office with New Age paganism and the fringes of American politics. Never mind that nearly every religion on the planet places significant value on physical health.

Judaism, for example, calls on followers to guard the body as a vehicle of worship while the Christian Bible describes the body as God’s “temple,” to be treated with great respect. Cue the next column from a legacy newspaper writing off some Americans’ efforts to preserve their health as an exercise in right-wing Christian nationalism. Several outlets have also dismissed fitness — just plain fitness — as a right-wing obsession.

Maybe people who focus on on health and wellness — a radical idea for people who want to live longer and with less pain and expense — are drawn to Kennedy because Kennedy understands the nation’s predicament far better than the other two candidates. Kennedy’s campaign has been the loudest to condemn the epidemic of obesity and chronic disease while depending on Big Pharma to solve it as one of the most fundamental obstacles to national prosperity.

Americans can navigate global turmoil and grow the gross domestic product (GDP) on paper, but peacetime economic expansion doesn’t benefit everyone if the economy is growing because of a chronically fat, sick, and depressed population pumping billions into the sick care system.

In the 1960s, when Kennedy’s uncle was president and his father the U.S. attorney general, American health spending was just 5 percent of gross domestic product. In 2021, it was more than 18 percent of GDP. Obesity rates have also tripled since the early 1960s ushered in the industrialization of the food supply and the low-fat diet craze.

Kennedy outlined more of the numbers in his state of the union address last month to argue, “We’ve become a nation of chronic illness, of violence, of loneliness, and depression, and division, and poverty.”

We have one of the highest cancer rates in the world, and our life expectancy now ranks 59th, according to the World Bank. That’s right behind Algeria, which spends less than one-thirtieth per capita of what we spend. But even these grim figures hide the full picture of our entire health crisis. We now have the worst health outcomes in the rich world.

Despite the record number of psychiatric drugs flooding American bloodstreams, courtesy of pharmaceutical companies more eager to offer high-dollar ongoing treatments over cures, the United States fell eight spots to a new low on the World Happiness Report last month. The United States is now no longer within the top 20 of the happiest nations, despite unprecedented wealth following the Industrial Revolution.

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