I have not read his book, Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back-Row America. I read positive reviews including excerpts when it came out, and I know the local library has a copy. I just haven't gotten around to that one.
He has observations on his blog about what he is seeing among the unvaccinated. It is similar to what I see myself, but not identical. I know unvaccinateds who do have college degrees. These tend to be from chiropractic/natural sectors or from culturally evangelical, even fringe evangelical types. They tend to talk about those issues more than religious ones, but...small sample size. I also have contact with people who were military and still strongly identify that way, but of a particular personality type that regards life and its risks as some kind of competition. If they are exposed to disease (not only covid) but don't get it they regard that as a feather in their cap, as if they have demonstrated some superiority over the common stock. In at least two instances, even tragedies involving close family have not dented that. It is somehow part of their identity to be invulnerable.
Come to think of it, that's not only some of the military guys (and one gal) - that belief in invulnerability, that sense of competition with others to defeat the forces of the universe. Their immune system is stronger than yours, dammit. Some of the natural/alternative medicine/specialty exercise people have that as well. Not all of them, certainly - I don't think a majority of either of those groups in my circle fit that very strongly. Maybe I just notice the noisier ones.
Looking back to the people I worked with who were anti-flu shot, and very much alternative medicine folks there were also the general back-to-the-landers, the Wiccans, plus one other group I hadn't thought about much: people who had a chronic and unusual condition, or a child with one, that wasn't helped much by standard medical measures. This, especially if there was chronic pain. Pain can change everything, and I am not minded to criticise someone too strenuously who is enduring things I am not. I think that's a whole different feeling. They often were on odd diets or took megadoses of supplements, None of this is breaking down cleanly. Some individuals are fitting a couple of categories here, or have family members who fit one category while they fit another, but both ending up anti-vax.
I think Arnade hits something important that is only at the edge of my thinking until recently. Discussion of vaccination has focused - both sides - on the specific actions of people in the last 20 months. Usually, of coursse, people focus on the terrible things those other guys did, because that is what humans do. But Arnade relates this to a much longer pattern of people who feel like they are being ordered around pointlessly - and often have good reason to think that. I was just answering someone over at Maggie's who went off on a tirade about whether I believed what "the government" is telling me about climate change, and the elections in various states, and whether CRT is being taught in the schools.I felt obliged to point out that the CDC has nothing to do with elections or schools, and there were dozens of agencies and levels of government involved here.
Yet he has a point in the broad sense even if his individual accusations are confused. There is a class of people who tell other people what to do a lot. They aren't necessarily cooperating with each other or interconnected, but they do tend to be drawn from the same class and have this attitude. So people develop an attitude of their own in response. I try to push people to make stricter distinctions and keep to one topic at a time, but that does cause me to discount the perspective entirely when I should only be objecting to the vagueness. The thinking is vague, but that doesn't necessarily make it inaccurate. I am not so much missing the forest for the trees as objecting to a painting of the landscape as unreliable. It might be unreliable as a map. But it might be valuable as an impression.
Update: It occurs to me that I am trying to be thorough and make a full case, while Arnade is primarily a writer, attempting to capture a single idea and get it across. I may have been too hard on him.