A Little Monday Tab Clearing

Several stories, not enough time for full write-ups.

Compassion should always be the first reaction to vaccine hesitation. Maybe some unvaccinated people have trouble getting time off work to deal with side effects, maybe they are disorganized, maybe they are just irrationally anxious. But there’s no getting around the truth that some considerable number of the unvaccinated are also behaving willfully and spitefully. Yes, they have been deceived and manipulated by garbage TV, toxic Facebook content, and craven or crazy politicians. But these are the same people who keep talking about “personal responsibility.” In the end, the unvaccinated person himself or herself has decided to inflict a preventable and unjustifiable harm upon family, friends, neighbors, community, country, and planet.

Will Blue America ever decide it’s had enoughof being put medically at risk by people and places whose bills it pays? Check yourself: Have you?

And because of the various causes, attributing the low rates to one group is difficult. In a state like Alabama, for instance, roughly 30 percent of white people, 27 percent of Black people, and 22 percent of Hispanic residents are vaccinated. “Regardless of race, the rates are abysmal,” Budhwani said. As such, “we need to respectfully reach into communities,” she continued, and that means continuing to engage with churches and schools as well as leaning on peer-to-peer messaging. “People tend to respond better when hearing public-health messaging from near peers, so for example, when trying to engage adolescents in Alabama, we should co-create messaging with adolescents and then these same adolescents should be involved in the delivery of the messages that they helped to create.”

That racial background, I would note, underscores that the vaccination rate issues are not simply a function of Trump voters/right-wing media. The fact that only 27% of Blacks in Alabama have gotten their shots indicates there are other issues at play.

Louisiana ranks near the bottom in vaccination rates nationally, and cases are again multiplying, with the second-highest average daily case count per 100,000 people in the country.

“We are unfortunately the leading edge of the Delta surge,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state’s top health official. “We lost all the progress we had made.”

The immediate crisis is confounding and demoralizing Dr. Whyte and other officials in Shreveport, where just over half the population is Black and nearly 40 percent is white, with a mix of moderate Democratic and far-right conservative politics.

Again, note the racial breakdown. The misinformation is not just in one arena (and a lot of this is also a tale of poor health care infrastructure).

A White city leader captured on video using a racial slur toward Black people during a council meeting said he won’t apologize, and might run for mayor. Others are calling for his resignation.

[…]

During a public session, Bryant used the slur to refer to a Black female council member, Veronica Freeman. Before the outburst, neighbors asked Bryant about controversial social media posts allegedly made by his wife about race, CBS affiliate WIAT-TV reports

After being questioned, Bryant stood up and can be heard saying: “The n-word. The n-word. Let’s get to the n-word. Hey. Do we have a house n* in here? Do we? Hey. Would she please stand up?” Bryant said.

[…]

Asked whether he is a racist, Bryant demurred.

“It’s according to what your definition of the word racist is. What a lot of the public’s definition is, I might be a racist. But according to what the true definition of a racist is, absolutely not,” he told WVTM.

This took place in a city that is part of the greater Birmingham metro area.

The whole story is a bit convoluted as it includes some accusations about something allegedly overheard, but there is no doubt that Bryant used the word at the meeting. What struck me about the whole thing is that we are often told by some that structural racism and less obvious forms may not exist. That, in fact, racists are obvious and do things like use clearly racist language. And here we have a clear example of racist language, and the deployer of said language claims not to be a racist (at least not the “true definition” dontcha know).

  • No tansition for this one: Ross Douthat’s column over the weekend is a great example of the contents of a piece not living up, at all, to its premise: Can the Left Regulate Sex?

The piece has the feel of a columnist who had an idea, couldn’t really make the idea work, but wrote the column anyway (and yes, I am aware that that often describes Douthat’s columns). This one is a patchwork quilt of weird connections of vaguely linked (in the sense that they are all, very broadly, about sexual behavior) to make an incredibly thin argument (so much so that I kind of hate to use the term). Let’s just say that the title does not live up to the contents.

FILED UNDER: Tab Clearing, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    About Douthat, I wondered if someone else wrote the headline and I felt stupid for having been suckered into reading the column. Whenever I read a Douthat column I get to the end and go, “What the heck was all that about?”

  2. @gVOR08: I am sure someone else did write the headline.

    And in regards to your reaction to Douthat columns: same here (and my apologies for dragging you into this one).

  3. Kathy says:

    I’ve an idea for vaccinations.

    1) Give a grace period of, say, 30 days to obtain the first dose or complete the second dose.

    2) On day 31, if you haven’t gotten at least one dose (or a one-dose vaccine), you get taken to an interment camp near a hospital, and inoculated with SARS-CoV-2 original strain, which seems to be the least lethal. And you’re quarantined next to the hospital should you require intensive care or intubation.

    2.1) The same applies if you miss a second dose.

    3) If you survive, you’re given a 90 day grace period to get vaccinated.

    4) Go to 2)

    I’d be ok with an indefinite quarantine, strictly enforced, until the pandemic is officially over.

  4. CSK says:

    @gVOR08: @Steven L. Taylor:

    It’s standard practice–always has been–in the magazine and newspaper business for someone other than the author of the piece to provide the title.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    But these are the same people who keep talking about “personal responsibility.”

    Personal responsibility for thee, not for me. How many of the insurrectionists have taken responsibility for their actions on 1/6? (only 1 that I know of, I’m sure more will at sentencing) How many of our MOTUs took responsibility for the collapse of our banks in 2008? When was the last time a so called “job creator” took responsibility for layoffs?

    And when it comes to our crumbling infrastructure, how many Republicans are willing to raise taxes to pay for the fixing of it?

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  6. @CSK: This was always my experience.

  7. The issue of vaccine hesitancy among minority populations has been discussed before. It’s not just Alabama and other Red States. Vaccinations among blacks in Illinois are far below the rates for whites and Asians. Some of that is mistrust; some is access.

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  8. Kathy says:

    This is a good step:

    All government employees in NYC are required to vaccinate, or get weekly COVID tests.

    But it’s just one step. There remains private sector employees, and the population at large. Not to mention I expect lawsuits will be filed in 3, 2, 1…

    It’s going to be a much longer pandemic than it should have been.

  9. Gustopher says:

    “It’s according to what your definition of the word racist is. What a lot of the public’s definition is, I might be a racist. But according to what the true definition of a racist is, absolutely not,”

    I’ve never seen someone evoke the “he’s an ephebophile not a pedophile” defense on themselves before.

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  10. Barry says:

    Steven: “The piece has the feel of a columnist who had an idea, couldn’t really make the idea work, but wrote the column anyway (and yes, I am aware that that often describes Douthat’s columns). ”

    There’s a great phrase, ‘irritable mental gestures’.

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  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: My brother is the only one that I can think of. On the other hand, he defines infrastructure as limited to “things 100% of the public use,” so he still objects to what’s been called infrastructure in the current bill.

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  12. Teve says:
  13. Michael Cain says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    “things 100% of the public use,”

    So, nothing? There are people who only walk. Those with private wells and septic fields. The off-the-grid folks. Some who never fly. Never go online. Nothing gets 100% take rate, even in this day and age.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: I made the mistake of reading that column. Another click-bait headline. I’m afraid I sometimes go, “Oh Gawd, what’s he off on now?” and waste five minutes skimming the column. Throughout I was thinking of a Limbaugh thing some years ago. He got off on ‘Consent, is that the thing that makes it OK with the left?’ To which everyone replied, “Umh yes, it is.”

  15. MarkedMan says:

    The piece has the feel of a columnist who had an idea, couldn’t really make the idea work, but wrote the column anyway (and yes, I am aware that that often describes Douthat’s columns).

    The NYTimes, the WaPo and other big market news sources have a problem. They need to have both Republican and Democratic contributors but for whatever reason they don’t like to label them that way. Instead they call them Conservative and Liberal/Progressive. But those are just convenience labels and have no real meaning. Douthat and his ilk are there because they are Reliable Republicans and are invited to speak at Republican get togethers and the Billionaire Boys Club events that are so crucial to Republican identity. But the sad fact is that anyone who is still both a Republican and an intellectual is either dishonest or a hack or both.

    After all, who is more conservative: Paul Krugman, who believes that we must base economic policy on actual facts and results and not just make policy to satisfy the slogans of either the right or the left, or some Supply Side dead-ender who has been wrong about everything since the Reagan administration? The answer is obviously Krugman, yet he is slotted into the the Liberal camp not for any of his policy beliefs but because he is not a Republican, full stop.

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  16. Chip Daniels says:

    As one who came of age in the Swinging Seventies, its interesting to me just how much, and how little was changed by the Sexual Revolution.

    In the early 70s there were predictions that marriage would disappear, and people would just couple together in serial formats without commitment, or that porn would become mainstream to include A list actors and big budget movies.

    Yet even with complete freedom and no state regulation of sex, people regulated their own sex lives. People today marry with the same intent of lifetime commitment as before, and mainstream movies feature sex and nudity, but have a self-imposed boundary of how much eroticism is too much.

    In a strange way, sexual freedom has ratified some of the arguments of conservatives- Yes, as it turns out, there is something deep in our human nature to want long term monogamy and family formation, and while we enjoy erotic art, there is a limit at which it interferes with our overall artistic preferences.

    The experiment of the past few decades has demonstrated that in fact, regulation of sexuality can safely be left to the people themselves.

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  17. dazedandconfused says:

    @Gustopher:

    The ol’ “No true non-racist (would call me a racist)” fallacy.

    1
  18. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Chip Daniels:

    and mainstream movies feature sex and nudity, but have a self-imposed boundary of how much eroticism is too much.

    That’s a debatable point. Movies “need” an MPAA rating. The MPAA is a very secretive and puritanical group (with far too much power). Without the “right” rating, movies can’t be shown in many theatres.

    Movies like Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, and others have pushed the boundaries–showing that there is a market for NC-17 movies with big-name actors.

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  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Movies like Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, and others have pushed the boundaries–showing that there is a market for NC-17 movies with big-name actors.

    And then there are movies like the Brown Bunny and Angel Heart that would make you wish you had joined your buddies at the Christy Canyon festival.

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  20. Chip Daniels says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Fair enough, but I’m thinking of how “X” even retains its power as box office poison, considering that any halfway decent porn fill can grab as many eyeballs as a modest mainstream movie.

    Or how cable shows or online streaming services which don’t even need an MPAA rating and can theoretically show anything, don’t manage to produce a “Mainstream” porn movie.

    I think that there is something to the idea that there is an infinitesimally small audience for such a product; I theorize that the power of eros is such that it can overwhelm the emotional and mental attachment need to enjoy a complex story.

    The larger point is that even with maximum freedom, people tend to select a sexual expression that is pretty much restrained because most people prefer a life where sexuality is balanced out against our other desired goals.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Chip Daniels: People today marry with the same intent of lifetime commitment as before

    There are lots of reasons to get married that have nothing to do with lifetime commitment. A lot of societal structures favor married couples. For instance, I married my wife so she could get my pension after I die. There was the added bonus of she could get on my union carpenter’s health insurance which was far better than what she got from her company. Not to mention the tax benefits.

    The lifetime commitment was already there, it’s just that marriage came with all kinds of ancillary benefits.

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  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Cain: His take appears to be that roadways and the power grid are “infrastructure.” Everything else is based on local options, so in fact, water and sewage systems and the like would be off the table. He would view “living off the grid” as a choice one would be free to make but outside of the idea of disqualifying public utilities. He certainly doesn’t approve of calling social services infrastructure and is charry about their necessity at all–but does acknowledge that most working class people have substandard incomes. He advocates a more vigorous link between education and “the trades” and understands that he would have liked to work in the trades–but lacked opportunity to enter them (and was hesitant about the seasonal nature of much of the work in such fields). Getting the unemployed into “the trades” is my brother’s one-size-fits-all employment solution.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: The French national (who maintained her French citizenship despite having married a G.I. after WWII) who I took a language class from at the University of Washington’s extension school years ago always held that in practical terms, America was a one-party nation–that party being Capitalist. She asked, “who votes for socialists here or Marxists or anarchists? Everyone votes for some version of capitalism. How can you say that’s really a two-party system?”

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  24. Moosebreath says:

    @MarkedMan:

    “They need to have both Republican and Democratic contributors”

    That’s an improvement over the Philadelphia Inquirer. Somehow, they think they only need to have Republican contributors. So the only national columnists we get are Marc Thiessen and George Will.