An Unfortunately Necessary Reminder That People Who Live in Red States Are Still People

Pop Culture

This week, the governors of Texas and Mississippi decided that their states no longer needed to enforce public safety measures like mask-wearing and social distancing. Both governors recommended that people still listen to the experts of medical experts and remain personally vigilant, they’re just removing the requirement to do those things. This is absolutely a reason to be furious with these governors, Greg Abbott and Tate Reeves. It is not, however, an excuse to denigrate the entire populations of these states.

Both Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore are liberals of the Bill Maher variety, meaning very few actual liberals or progressives want to be associate with them in any way. Both men decided to take to Twitter to insult the people of Texas for the decision of their governor. Even worse, both chose to suggest depriving the states’ communities of access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Again, this is what we’re not going to do when a state’s governor does something to harm their constituents:

“Why are we wasting vaccinations on Texas if Texas has decided to join the side of the virus?” wrote Olbermann. Moore’s suggestion that “our precious vaccine” be sent to people “who are saving lives by wearing masks” had more of a jokey tone but still shared the same elitist sentiment.

I don’t know how this still has to be said, but there are millions of people living in Texas who did not vote for Abbott or Ted Cruz or any of the other politicians who are constantly trying to screw them over. States like Texas have countless progressive activists on the ground working to improve the lives of people in their communities. And if those Republican politicians didn’t work so hard to suppress access to voting in the state, the results of their elections might look a whole lot different. None of these people should be punished or mocked because of the choices of their elected officials. And people who voted for these politicians are also still people and don’t “deserve” to suffer.

It’s also very strange (yet unfortunately not at all new) to scapegoat southern states and brand them the problem when no state is a political monolith. California is incredibly conservative outside of its major metropolitan hubs, as is New York, as are most blue states.

Michael Moore’s own home state of Michigan is divided in its leadership, with equal numbers from both parties represented in the House and Senate. Sure, its governor is a Democrat but as recently as 2018, that wasn’t the case. The state voted for Biden in 2020 but in 2016, it went to Trump. Hypothetically, if another Republican had been elected governor in 2018 and refused to institute a mask mandate, would Michael Moore have suggested that the people of Michigan didn’t deserve the vaccine? Or would he have fought for the recognition that one person doesn’t represent an entire state?

Moreover, just because Michael Moore lives in a blue-voting state, that doesn’t make it “his” vaccine. His repeated use of the word “our” to describe the vaccine (and the country’s electrical grid) is incredibly weird. Not only he did likely do absolutely nothing to contribute to its development, but—another thing that should not have to be said!—once again, even if a person voted Republican, even if they don’t support a mask mandate, even if anything at all, they still have as much of a right to health and safety as anyone else.

Greg Abbott and Tate Reeves are doing active harm to the people living in their states. No one else needs to be helping them in that endeavor, least of all white snobs acting in the name of faux-progressivism.

(image: Montinique Monroe/Getty Images)

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