GOP Pretty Sure DC Vaccine Mandates The Real Jim Crow 2.0

Effective Saturday, Washington, DC, requires that bars, restaurants, gyms, and other businesses ask patrons for proof of vaccination prior to entry. This mandate isn’t unique. New York City, Seattle, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and even New Orleans have similar policies.

However, DC is the Chocolate City, so Republicans are crying “racism!” Yes, the super woke GOP is once again looking out for Black Americans. They always have our best interests at heart, just like the alien Kanamits in the "To Serve Man" episode of "The Twilight Zone.”

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The GOP’s official Twitter account declared Sunday, "The DC vaccine mandate went into effect this weekend. This mandate disproportionately hurts minority communities in DC. No vaccine mandate!"

Republican National Committee chair and Mitt Romney’s secret niece Ronna McDaniel tweeted this nonsense.

DC just enacted a vaccine mandate that effectively bans over 50% of Black residents from entering a restaurant, bar, or movie theater. Biden supports mandates like this, yet he’s the one baselessly accusing others of “Jim Crow 2.0.”

McDaniel’s use of “effectively” is doing a lot of work here. It’s like claiming my high school performance as Macbeth was “effectively” as good as Denzel Washington’s.

Here are some actual facts: Washington, DC’s current vaccination rate is 70 percent. That’s better than the national average. DC’s Black population is about 44 percent. I’m not sure where McDaniel’s getting her numbers. Yes, white DC residents are more likely to get vaccinated, due to reported higher rates of "both hesitancy and access issues for Black Washingtonians.” Those are issues to resolve, not exploit.

Last May, Black people made up more than 80 percent of COVID-19 cases, compared to 46 percent in late 2020. It’s shocking but not surprising that Republicans are only speaking out now, and against efforts to address this lethal disparity.

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McDaniel’s race-baiting tweet draws a repulsive false equivalency to the GOP’s nationwide voter suppression efforts. The same party that callously suggests it’s no big deal to stand in line for hours to vote or obtain an up-to-date photo ID suddenly claims requiring a free, life-saving vaccine is an undue (and racist!) burden. That’s farm-fresh bullshit. You’d almost have to admire their shamelessness if you weren’t so busy throwing up.

A common defense of GOP voter suppression tactics is that they are targeting Democratic voters in general, not Black people specifically (i.e.there’s no overt racial animus). Obviously, DC’s vaccine mandate applies to everyone equally, regardless of race. Mayor Muriel Bower, who issued the mandate, is Black, and probably likes going to restaurants and bars with other Black people. DC health director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, who’s Black, also supports vaccine mandates. I believe they are more concerned about Black people’s well-being than the current GOP.

Republicans are rushing to defend the rights of Black DC residents to die from COVID-19 after having opposed efforts to grant them congressional representation. Last year, Republicans claimed DC wasn’t worthy of statehood because it lacked car dealerships and landfills. You also couldn’t milk a cow in Dupont Circle, so it’s barely an America settlement.

Look, we all know how the GOP rolls. If Black people were really the predominant vaccine holdouts, Republicans would pass “vaccine integrity bills” and cops would happily pull us over to check our vaccine cards. This is all about catering to white anti-vaxxers, and they don’t give a damn if some Black people needlessly die along the way.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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