August 1, 2020

Published with permission of PRESS RUN, Eric Boehlert’s new must-read media newsletter. Subscribe here.

Trump’s deplorables are keeping America sick.

The country could effectively put the crippling Covid-19 pandemic behind us, but Trump supporters, including Republican officials, are making that impossible by waging a cultural war against common-sense pandemic solutions, such as wearing masks to curb the virus' spread. As most countries now enjoy post-coronavirus recoveries, Trump's America careens deeper into the crisis. If only somebody had warned us about how dangerous his fanatic followers are.

Hillary Clinton, of course did just that, and the press crucified her for it. In September 2016, she suggested half of Trump supporters fit into a “basket of deplorables." The baskets included, " “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic."

At the time, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found 44 percent of Trump supporters viewed blacks as ruder than whites, 46 percent viewed them as more criminal and almost 50 percent viewed them as more violent. A Public Policy poll found 61 percent of Trump supporters thought Obama was born in a foreign country, and 66 percent believed he was is a Muslim— Clinton’s comment was an accurate one.

Still, the D.C. press clutched its pearls (‘How dare she?’) and staggered around for days over the Clinton statement. The press elevated the throw-away line to Very Serious status, as a Beltway full of commentators, following the GOP's orchestrated lead, offered up ceaseless tsk-tsk analysis.

In terms of newsworthiness, the press treated Clinton's "deplorable" story on par with Trump's fraudulent charity, his illegal "university," his refusal to release his tax returns, and his mocking of the disabled, among the candidate's many blockbuster transgressions.

Looking back, "Clinton's comments about Trump's human deplorables were overly generous," Salon's Chauncey DeVega noted in January. "Trump's reign has encouraged a wave of lethal hate crimes and other violence against nonwhites, Muslims, Jews, gays and lesbians. Trump's foot soldiers have engaged in acts of political violence and terrorism against Democrats and others deemed to be the "enemy.""

And then came the pandemic.

With the GOP's Southern strategy of aggressively reopening red states now proving to be public disaster as daily confirmed Covid-19 cases skyrocket into the tens of thousands in states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona, Trump supporters have shifted from gloating about beating the virus, to refusing to help combat it. Staging public tempter tantrums over wearing masks, Trump's deplorables are keeping America down and wrecking the economy in the process.“

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he believes the pandemic could be brought under control over the next four to eight weeks if “we could get everybody to wear a mask right now,”” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Yet Trump's deplorables wage an ugly war on common sense:

•A man in Royal Palm Beach, Florida got into a dispute over refusing to wear mask inside a local WalMart. He quickly pointed a gun at a fellow shopper and threatened to kill him. The man was soon arrested.

•"Are you intending to shoot me over a mask?" a Florida store owner asked a customer after he flashed a gun in his waistband when asked to wear a mask inside the woman's shop.

• An Oklahoma woman protesting a store’s mask policy began throwing shoe boxes at a saleswoman.

• A Louisana man hit a police officer with his vehicle, twice, after the man was told to leave a Walmart when he refused to wear a face covering. (“You can’t make me wear a f**king mask.”)

• A Costco shopper staged a sit-down protest when an employee politely informed her that store policy requires all shoppers to cover their face. "I am an American,” the woman angrily responded. “I have constitutional rights," which has nothing to do with a private business mandating coverings for shoppers.

• In Colorado, a local county public health chief has needed a police escort home each night because of the violent, disturbing threats she was receiving while trying to keep her community safe from the pandemic. “References to Nazism. Calling me Mrs. Hitler,” Joni Reynolds said, recounting the hate emails. “Calling me vile names — curse words. Threatening harm to me, my family, my home."

Agitators clearly get their cues from Republicans and from Fox News. Georgia's Republican governor, Brian Kemp, recently barred local governments from requiring mask use. In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson stunned observers when recently insisted, "These kids have got to get back to school. And if they do get COVID-19, which they will — and they will when they go to school — they’re not going to the hospitals." He stressed, "They’re going to go home and they’re going to get over it.”

In Texas, Betsy Price, Fort Worth's Republican mayor, claims the pandemic was "an unknown for everyone," which made it impossible to prepare for. "The virus has been a big surprise."

As for Fox News, the lying remains incessant:

Fox News repeated coronavirus misinformation 253 times in its weekday coverage from July 6 through 10, including claims that undermined scientific research about the pandemic, eroded trust in public health experts and policy recommendations, called for reopening schools and businesses without regard to public health precautions, and politicized the country’s response to the virus.

The American right wing has created the most politicized and partisan pandemic the world has ever seen. And that's deplorable.

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