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Is the Coronavirus Racist?
Should we declare racism a public health emergency?
Abdullah Shihipar wants to Declare Racism a Public Health Emergency. The thesis of his New York Times op-ed is that COVID-19 shows structural racism in action - the higher infection and hospitalization rates of black and Hispanic Americans are evidence.
Shihipar wants black Americans to receive vaccinations before white Americans. But this cannot be his real concern. After all, everyone who wants a vaccination will have one by summer. And would getting their shots a month earlier even put a dent in structural racism?
Structural racism is a system that preserves gaps between white and black Americans. Structural racism experts are concerned with what causes or maintains those gaps. Historically, the biggest and most damaging structural racism practices come from political policies.
Given that structural racism exists, what about black Americans who are vaccine skeptics? They have historical reasons to be cynical about government health programs. African-Americans have long been the target of unethical experiments and sterilization schemes. Are they wrong to wonder why politicians and pundits want them to go first? Are bodily integrity, personal sovereignty, and the need for consent unimportant?
Nevermind, because Mr. Shihipar's primary point is…
Coronavirus is an opportunity to address structural racism.
Seeing the political opportunity
Please consider Abdullah Shihipar's complex business card. He is...
a public health researcher
who leads Narrative Projects and Policy Impact Initiatives
at the People, Place and Health Collective, a research laboratory
in the Department of Epidemiology
for the School of Public Health
at Brown University
Let's make that simpler — he's paid to spot structural racism.
He is also paid to favor state coercion over persuasion. This is the progressive position, and he associates with it in his editorial.
Progressives want to solve injustices. It's part of the progressive DNA to insist upon instant solutions to social concerns. State coercion works fast; that's why progressives love it.
However, the ship-of-state can be slow to turn. Emergencies can provide the motivation to move faster. This is where they get the rule "never let a good crisis go to waste!"
The issue here isn't whether or not structural racism exists. It does. The problem is that Mr. Shihipar puts his faith in the State, which has historically given racism the structure he decries.
gave legal shelter to slavery.
enforced segregation laws and redlining.
traps black families in bad schools.
created victimless crime laws that preferentially imprison black people.
used black people as lab rats for syphilis experiments. Indeed...
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Government pandemic policy is itself 'structurally racist'
It was mainly progressive states that imposed lockdowns. It was progressive-run states that were the last to hold on to these policies. White-collar employees could work from home, but low-skilled employees lost their jobs. Progressive politicians declared that big businesses were essential, but small businesses had to close. Blacks and Hispanics suffered more than whites, and income inequality increased.
In progressive-run big cities, at the behest of teachers’ unions with very progressive leadership, disadvantaged children are still cut off from classroom structure, socialization, and even meals.
The State has also been passing out a ton of money. We can demonstrate that the cash didn't penetrate to the people in the inner cities, in anything like the way it did for big business. But two results are increasing prices and shortages on the shelves.
If Mr. Shihipar really wants to tear down the structures of racism, he should start by firing the architects who build those structures, the politicians. Instead, he expressly wants to do the opposite.
Using Covid-19 to activate the Conflict Machine
Shihipar wants to give the government even greater power. He wants to declare racism a national health emergency because emergencies motivate fast action. Fast action means passing laws.
However, laws threaten people with violence if they don't submit. They must pay for things they don't support or change behaviors without being given a persuasive reason. They might even agree there's a problem, but their solutions won't be tried. All of this creates conflict.
The conflict then creates drama and hatred. The media loves the drama and the politicians exploit the hatred. This is the Conflict Machine. The Conflict Machine divides the people and empowers the media and the politicians.
Does this really feel like the way to solve structural racism? Don't we need something that's...
Closer to the heart
Viruses aren't racist. Racism isn't a public health emergency.
Moreover, people aren't racist because they have differing opinions about tax policy, healthcare, guns, climate change, or how to best combat Covid-19. No one is a racist simply because they disagree with progressive schemes. Instead, racism is fostered by the Conflict Machine, which teaches people to hate and distrust each other. The cure is simple...
We should all exit the Conflict Machine!
We need to stop using the government to impose things on each other.
When we use political power to force things on peaceful people against their will, we're fostering conflict, division, and hatred.
Indeed, the social result of using racism as a political tool is now evident - increased polarization and backlash instead of unity. That backlash likely included Mr. Trump. Ironically, pointing this out can get you accused of racism.
We can best overcome structural racism by promoting the Principle of Human Respect…
Human happiness, harmony, and prosperity decrease as persons experience violence or theft initiated against them.
Once we understand that turning on the Conflict Machine is going to cause drama and provoke division, we should want to choose a better path. We should want to be sure that we're not a party to decreasing Human Respect.
The paths to increasing social harmony and reducing structural racism are parallel. We must talk. We must work together because we've gotten to know, understand, and appreciate one another. We must get closer to the heart.
The impatient use of the Conflict Machine won't overcome structural racism. Indeed, if we turn racism into a public health emergency, we'll wake up to find that the problem seems far worse.
Jim Babka is the host of The Exit Network. Joanna Blaine is the editor. Our website is Coming Soon!