There is almost a wistful nostalgia to this piece.
Remember back in the good old days when it was so clear that we were an irredeemably racist country wholly indifferent to the deaths of black people? How else to explain the early disparities in death rates between black people and white people?
Unfortunately for the self-satisfied elites, their virtue high was about to be brought back down to earth by an unexpected event:
More white people are dying from Covid than black people.
And they have been for a while.
Not to worry, our betters have a perfectly good explanation for this designed to maintain their imagined superiority.
The piece centers mostly on a "regular guy," the kind Post writers only interact with when their water heater breaks or when they are called upon to write a "think piece" intended to placate their socially insecure readers.
SOMERVILLE, Tenn. — Skill Wilson had amassed more than three decades of knowledge as a paramedic, first in Memphis and then in Fayette County. Two places that felt like night and day.
With only five ambulances in the county and the nearest hospital as much as 45 minutes away, Skill relished the clinical know-how necessary to work in a rural setting. Doing things like sedating patients to insert tubes into their airways.
But when it came to covid-19, despite more than 1 million deaths nationwide, Skill and his family felt their small town on the central-eastern side of Fayette County, with its fields of grazing cattle and rows of cotton and fewer than 200 covid deaths since the start of the pandemic, was a cocoon against the raging health emergency.
Are you getting the feeling that Skill is a dead man? Because it was at this point in the piece that I started thinking Skill was a dead man.
The nature of the virus makes the elderly and people with underlying health conditions — including hypertension, diabetes and obesity, all of which beset Black people at higher rates and earlier in life than White people — particularly vulnerable to severe illness and death.
That wasn't Skill.
The virus also attacks unvaccinated adults — who polls show are more likely to be Republicans — with a ferocity that puts them at a much higher risk of infection and death.
That was Skill.
Oh, yeah, he's a goner.
Capt. Julian Greaves Wilson Jr., known to everybody as Skill, died of covid Jan. 23, a month after becoming infected with the coronavirus.
Of course, it was his own fault. They go through an elaborate pantomime of respect, noting his service to his community, his work as a paramedic, and his generous spirit, but, you know, he was one of "those" types who valued individual freedom and personal choice, concepts that utterly bewilder their readership.
As his widow put it,
"We're Republicans, and 100 percent believe that it's each individual's choice — their freedom"
He joined the choir of critics opposing vaccination requirements, his rants in front of the television eventually wearing on Hollie, who, even if she agreed, grew tired of listening and declared their home "covid-talk free."
So, she said, Skill commiserated with like-minded people in Facebook groups and on Parler and Rumble, the largely unmoderated social networking platforms popular with conservatives.
That is, uncensored by their social betters.
And that's why he's dead.
When the coronavirus appeared in the United States, it did what airborne viruses do — latched onto cells in people's respiratory tract, evaded innate immune responses and multiplied.
That seems like a fair assessment of the...
The pathogen, free of politics or ideology, had a diverse reservoir of hosts and found fertile pathways for growth in the inequalities born from centuries of racial animus and class resentments.
And here we go.
Unequal exposure, unequal spread, unequal vulnerability and unequal treatment concentrated harm in communities that needed protection the most yet had the least. Cumulatively, Black, Latino and Native American people are 60 percent more likely to die of covid.
Freedom, and your white supremacy killed him.
The Post analysis revealed the changing pattern in covid deaths. At the start of the pandemic, Black people were more than three times as likely to die of covid as their White peers. But as 2020 progressed, the death rates narrowed — but not because fewer Black people were dying. White people began dying at increasingly unimaginable numbers, too, the Post analysis found.
Are they suggesting that perhaps "unequal exposure, unequal spread, unequal vulnerability and unequal treatment" wasn't the cause of black people's early increased Covid mortality?
No, don't be silly.
Remember, Republicans are vaccine-denying morons who value freedom!
"Usually, when we say a health disparity is disappearing, what we mean is that … the worse-off group is getting better," said Tasleem Padamsee, an assistant professor at Ohio State University who researched vaccine use and was a member of the Ohio Department of Health's work group on health equity. "We don't usually mean that the group that had a systematic advantage got worse."
That's exactly what happened as the White death rate surpassed that for Black people,
Oh, and they're racists. You really can't say that enough.
The authors certainly can't
...even though Black Americans routinely confront stress so corrosive it causes them to age quicker, become sicker and die younger.
"Think about the fact that everyone who is age 57 and older in this country was born when Jim Crow was legal," she said. "What that did was intersect with covid-19, meaning that embodied history is part of this pandemic, too."
No attempt whatsoever is made to support the notion that Jim Crow laws were a major factor. You are just supposed to believe it. That's either because the authors just assume it is true because of course it is...
...Or, they know they can't support it.
Here are the states that had Jim Crow laws.
And here are the top 20 states for Covid death rates.
A majority, twelve out of twenty, were Jim Crow states.
Before anyone declares victory at exposing the role Jim Crow laws played in Covid deaths among black people, let's break that death rate down.
Here are the death rates per 100,000 for white people only.
And here are the death rates for black people only.
Why, it's looking like other factors are playing a role in Covid death rates other than Jim Crow laws that ended 50 years ago.
Also, California and New York are looking pretty racist.
In other words, there is no data whatsoever to support the assertion that Jim Crow laws played any role in how a virus behaves.
I don't like to minimize how awful Jim Crow was, or that in many pockets of the country black people still confront racism, but this kind of lazy, anti-intellectual pontificating intended to hyper-inflate a narrative that can't survive even the most basic scrutiny reduces the argument to parody.
No matter, you are an idiot, and a racist.
The shift in covid death rates "has vastly different implications for public health interventions," said Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology at Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Officials must figure out how to connect with "communities who are ideologically opposed to the vaccine" while contending with "the cumulative impact of injustice" on communities of color.
Your insistence that you have the right to make your own health choices is apparently almost as bad as Jim Crow laws!
"Getting to make this decision for themselves has primacy over what the vaccine could do for them," said Lisa R. Pruitt, a law professor at the University of California at Davis who is an expert in social inequality and the urban-rural divide. "They're making a different calculus."
It's a calculation informed by the lore around self-sufficiency,...
You want lore? How about the notion that the vaccine is without risk of any kind, even long term about which we are only just beginning to understand or the presumed efficacy of bedsheets wrapped across your face?
I didn't think that that polarization would transfer over to a pandemic," Pruitt said.
A lifesaving vaccine and droplet-blocking masks became ideological Rorschach tests.
It gets worse. These people, they,... I can barely even say it.
...she said, a fatalistic acceptance that hardships happen in life and a sense of defiance that has come to define the modern conservative movement's antipathy toward bureaucrats and technocrats.
Oh, my, we can't have people defying bureaucrats and technocrats!
Why that could result in too much freedom!
The Washington Post wasn't quite done searching morgues to support their narrative.
The impulse to frame the eradication of an infectious disease as a matter of personal choice cost the lives of some who, despite taking the coronavirus seriously, were surrounded by enough people that the virus found fertile terrain to sow misery. That's what happened in northern Illinois, where a father watched his 40-year-old son succumb to covid-19.
If they're going to fantasize that the Covid vaccine prevents transmission and masks work, they might as well go all the way.
For Robert Boam, [the father] the increase in White deaths is politics brought to bear on the body of his son, though he's reluctant "to get into the politics of it all, but it all goes back to that."
Brian Boam [the son] had been vaccinated and boosted but still succumbed to covid-19 in January.
Umm... did they even read what they write?
Robert Boam said his son had survived covid the year before, so "we got on his butt to get that booster shot when he was here for Christmas." And he did — but got sick again, the 73-year-old said. "Being vaccinated, and all that, and getting covid again kind of bummed him out."
I could see how that could happen.
Just after the new year, Brian Boam, who was hypertensive,...
...went to a hospital feverish and vomiting...
He went into cardiac arrest in the emergency room and was transferred to Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, one of the nation's top academic hospitals. There, his family hoped he would be healed, but his organs began to fail. He died Jan. 8.
No Post piece would be complete without blaming Trump, of course. I think it's in the style manual.
"The thing that gets me is the people who still don't believe it's serious or even real, but when they get sick, they run to the hospital," Robert Boam said. "You're taking away from heart attack patients and stroke patients."
The pandemic, he said, "should've been taken seriously from the very beginning, and it wasn't. It was denied. It was downplayed. And it all goes back to one person, as far as I'm concerned."
Asked who that was, Boam would say only: "I'll give you three guesses. The first two don't count."
Using tragedy to further a political narrative.
The authors of this exhaustively researched piece were Akilah Johnson, "a national reporter exploring the effect of racism and social inequality on health" who "shared a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing," and Dan Keating, "part of a team that won a Pulitzer at The Miami Herald for exposing vote fraud," that I am reliably informed doesn't exist.
Looks like they're going to have to make room on their mantels for another Pulitzer!