“The type of groupthink, witchhunt mentality, the sort of uncritical views that many have taken during this time are reminiscent of the times of ascendancy for the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union, or the Nazis in Germany, or the CCP in communist China. So that's what frightens me, as a history teacher. We study these things and we go, ‘How could everyday people go along with this oppression?’ . . . But we see it time and time again in history. We see the common tools being used—fear, censorship, the othering of people. So that's what authoritarian or totalitarian regimes will do to force compliance.” - Doug
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In this episode of the New York Mandate Podcast, I talk with a former New York City high school history teacher who had taught for 13 years when he lost his job under the Department of Education’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Both he and his wife requested religious exemptions to the mandate and were denied, before being put on leave without pay and then fired.
He talked with me about leaving New York City, where he and his family had spent their lives, moving to a small town, and delving into homesteading, homeschooling, permaculture, and building a life with faith at its center.
He also talked about what it was like to go before an appeals panel as part of his effort to obtain a religious exemption, the legal cases working their way through the court system, and the historical parallels he sees with authoritarian measures taken during the pandemic.
More from Doug:
If you’d like to get in touch with Doug to talk more about homeschooling, homesteading, and making a transition from urban to rural life, please leave a message for him in the comments or send it to me at NYMpodcast@protonmail.com. I’ll pass any messages I receive along to him.
Here are some links related to things we talked about during the episode:
Homeschool New York (NYS Loving Education At Home)
Homeschool New York is a statewide organization dedicated to supporting and promoting home education throughout New York State.
Live Not by Lies
Soviet writer and dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn released this essay in 1974, just before he was arrested and sent into exile.
WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms)
This international organization enables people to stay and volunteer on a variety of organic properties, allowing volunteer workers to learn about organic farming.
Educators for Freedom
This group of teachers, staff, parents, and supporters formed in response to New York City’s Department of Education COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
“Key to NYC” Vaccination Mandate Executive Order
The “Key to NYC” mandate required both employees and patrons of restaurants, entertainment venues, and gyms to show proof of vaccination. It began on August 17, 2021, and was lifted on March 7, 2022.
Announcement of NYC Department of Education Employee Vaccine Mandate
This is the August 23, 2021, announcement of the vaccine mandate for New York City Department of Education employees by then Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter, and Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi.
Doug also mentioned my previous conversations with fellow history teacher James and social studies teacher Jennifer, as well as remarks that former DSNY worker Danny Hulkower made during a recent conversation outside the Richmond County Courthouse.
About the New York Mandate Podcast
The New York Mandate Podcast is an ongoing series of conversations exploring the costs and consequences of vaccine mandates in New York City. I talk with workers, students, and parents who have been directly affected by the mandates, as well as legal and policy experts.
In late 2021, the City introduced a series of requirements for workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. These requirements were put in place through executive orders issued by the administration of former mayor Bill de Blasio. They covered nearly all workers in New York City, in both the public and private sectors. They also barred unvaccinated adults, including parents, from schools.
Current mayor Eric Adams kept the mandates in place until November 1, 2022 for the private sector and February 10, 2023 for City workers, and has encouraged private employers to put their own vaccine requirements in place.
The views expressed in the New York Mandate podcast are the personal opinions of the people speaking, and are not intended to provide medical or legal advice.
Join the Conversation
Have you lost your job, been put on leave, or lost opportunities to work as an independent contractor as a result of your decision not to comply with a vaccine mandate in New York? Did you take a vaccine against your wishes in order to keep your job? Please get in touch with me at NYMpodcast@protonmail.com.