Dying of whiteness during the coronavirus pandemic


I'm Jonathan Kaye part. Welcome to Cape Up. Jonathan Metzler back sooner than I expected because of the Corona virus pandemic in his book dying of Whiteness. How the politics of racial resentment is killing. America's heartland Nestle the director of Vanderbilt University Center for medicine. Health and society put a human face on the opposition to many policies that would save lives and livelihood a warning of the lengths to which the white working class voters could either have underlying racism or be manipulated to vote in support of wealthy donors corporations but against their own life stance. And it's just been on steroids since this pandemic started. Listen to mental. Explain why those anti stay at home protests in state capitals Egged on by the president that historical pattern and why the politics racial resentment is a deflection. That works right now. Jonathan Metzel. Thank you very much for coming back to the PODCAST. It's great to be back. I you were just on the podcast a couple of months ago and I try not to go back to Previous guests sooner than say six months but the situation that we're in right now with the with covert nineteen sort of demanded that you come back. We had on Reverend William Barber talking about the racial disparities that we've now been forced to reckon with with the corona virus. And you sent me a message. Reminding me that everything that you wrote about in Europe antastic book dying of Whiteness is playing out in this corona virus and the covert nineteen pandemic. Talk about that well. The book I wrote Diana Whiteness was was really. I mean I who knew at the time but what I was talking about in. That book was about the ways in which there were kind of undercurrents of white racial resentment that shaped Attitudes among politicians and certain white voters particularly in mid in America. That am caused them to what you would think. Vote against their own biological self interests and so the story. I told him that book was a story. About how for example and working class and lower income white voters rejected the affordable. Care Act. Which would have helped them a lot because they thought that immigrants and minorities were gaming the system and I looked at The rise of guns as symbols of kind of white self protection. And you know that was. That was a a book that I thought was kind of how to beginning a middle and an end it was kind of a warning of the lengths to which when white working class voters could either have underlying racism or be manipulated to vote in support of wealthy donors in corporations but against their own life stance. And it's just been on steroids since this pandemic started. I mean everything from in you know. It seems like the best possible for many red states would be to expand Medicaid if people health and transferred this moment of dire need and you would think people would be rallying to get Medicaid. It would help them. Not just medically would help them. Financially not incur bankruptcies pay less for medications but instead trump has been actively actively not expanding Medicaid and and people have been supporting him and the same thing with guns are the the gun story as is eight hundred percent rise in gun sales in some states in in in conjunction with this idea And and so kind of across the board this idea and and of course brought to bear most recently by these protests are across across many red states where people are literally out there saying and we we want to support trump even if it costs us in our family members and our communities days and months and years of our lives and and the racial currents are just. I mean just absolutely unavoidable. Okay so let's let's start with the with those protests because as I watched the video coming from Lansing Michigan and other places and people is openly. Define what we all knew when they were protesting to be true that the corona virus is spread. If you are not socially distancing if you're not wearing a mask if you're shaking hands if you have any kind of physical contact and these votes were acting in total defiance of everything of everything we know up the is it. Are they being irrational in what they're doing or are they being rational in that support for Donald Trump and resentment of and racial resentment are enough for them to ignore science? Well I think there are a couple of things that are important to keep in mind about this process. I just always make clear when I talk about them. That those protests are not all all white Americans. They're not all trump supporters. That's a kind of vote very vocal very threatening fringe group. That has gotten a lot of validation from from trump and a lot of funding from the Devos family and other places and so in a way. Because we're all stuck at home. It's hard to see that there are a lot of people in red states who are terrified of what those protests represent Democrats and Republicans and so first of all. I think it's unfortunate just given the way we're all many of us at at home right now and it looks like that's every Republican out there and that's not the case that being said I try to avoid saying that anything is irrational You know I think would my research. I came to realize that there are there are deep and ideology said that makes sense to people and I think this idea of government. Overreach this idea that Social PROGRAMS ARE GONNA benefit immigrants and minorities and and at the expense of of white people. do these ideas are very very ingrained and I think that also when you when you combine that with a moment of real despair this I this moment of you know not just a more the risk of mortality but also this fear of you know real real economic trauma that people back on their deepest their deepest fears. We've seen that you know the rise of Nazi Germany on down that people when they're who've been there the most desperate it's not like they become the most centrist They they become the most terrified. And so it. At a moment like this people fall back on extreme ideologies. It's not like everybody's GonNa come to the middle and I think trump has been very artful at manipulating those anxieties and shifting blame race. That I think are very dangerous but it's not I. It's not irrational. If it's based in a particular reading of reality and and also Lib reality for a lot of people you know one of the big stories to come out of out of the corona virus coverage is the the health disparities disparities in impact that overwhelmingly the victims of Corona virus have been Americans and other people of color particularly African Americans. What role do you think that plays in the mindset of people who might be looking in saying you know that's affecting them and so therefore I don't need to be concerned about this? Well I think certainly that's been framing an edge of course true right in other words. Many of the people who died in this early phase are emigrants of members of minority groups. People who have to either have to go to work In in conditions are live in areas. Where there's a lot of density I certainly think that that led to a feeling of kind of white and bits ability especially in the people. I've been interviewing people in this idea that oh no. This won't be because this is kind of black and Brown problem. I certainly think fueled part of the feeling of invincibility surrounding mess But it'll be interesting to see. I mean I think there are two caveats that narrative of I is that I guarantee you. A lot of these deaths in rural white America are being under reported. Just because there's not great data gathering and so I do think there's a lot of despair in in rural areas that we're not hearing about and and I think the other point is because of these protests and particularly when these red states start opening up if if they do which seems insane. We're GONNA see a lot of of working class white very sick and dying and so it'll be interesting to see what happens to that narrative when it really starts to hit home for people

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