New York Times essay argues Southerners will 'die unnecessary deaths' because of Republican focus on 'freedom'

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In media news today, a Washington Post columnist complains the media is obsessed with not offending Republican readers, Joy Behar praises President Biden on Afghanistan, and CNN summer viewership dips below one million viewers for the majority of the summer

A guest essay in The New York Times claimed Monday that Southern Americans would “continue to die unnecessary deaths” from the coronavirus pandemic, natural disasters, self-administered abortions and gun violence because of Republicans’ continued focus on “freedom.”

In the essay, liberal columnist Margaret Renkl argued that Southern Republican leaders responded to those issues with “disinterest and disinformation” in the name of freedom, should no longer be entrusted with matters pertaining them, and that the federal government should be the ones to protect the public by passing laws to address them. 

“Every single one of these disasters is, at its heart, a public health emergency. And in every case our leaders have responded with disinterest and disinformation at best. In many cases they have worsened the emergency in every way imaginable,” Renkl wrote, specifically talking about Southern Republican leaders.

“Instead of taking concrete measures to limit climate change, they send up prayers for rescue workers. Instead of making it possible for poor women to get quality medical care, they limit reproductive options for everyone,” she added. “Instead of espousing common-sense gun laws that keep citizens safe, they ally themselves with the gun lobby … Instead of trying to keep people safe during this pandemic, our leaders offer ludicrous platitudes on the subject of freedom.”

Renkl said that, when it came to the matter of freedom, “freedom from death” would be at the top of anybody’s priority list. She then criticized specific Southern Republican politicians by name. 

In reference to her statement that people want “freedom from death,” she first asked readers to ignore Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’ suggestion that southern Christians weren’t worried about dying, seemingly referring to his August statement that Christians were “less scared” of the coronavirus because of their belief in eternal life.

“Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky, is more interested in investigating the Covid-treatment benefits of a horse dewormer … than in getting his constituents vaccinated,” she claimed, seemingly referring to Paul’s recent statements that he couldn’t say if Ivermectin, a parasite-fighting medication that can also be sold over the counter as a veterinary drug, would be a good drug to fight the coronavirus because “they’re unwilling to objectively study it.”

Renkl slammed Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee for, according to her, not authorizing days off for schools due to coronavirus outbreaks, as well as not allowing school systems to pivot to online learning, despite record hospitalizations for adults and children across the state.

“Despite these indisputable indicators of failed public policy, Mr. Lee has no intention of reversing course. Most Southern Republicans don’t, either, and that’s why Southerners will continue to die unnecessary deaths — if not from Covid, then from natural disasters, or self-administered abortions, or gun violence, or any number of other preventable tragedies,” she wrote.

Renkl praised some Southerners for working hard “to make life better for everyone,” but argued that some matters were “too important to be entrusted to state governments anymore.”

“We need to take health and public safety out of the hands of Republicans because this is not a game, no matter how often the people running things down here may behave as though it is. There are no winners in the National Calamities tournament of 2021. Here in the South, especially, there are only losers,” Renkl wrote.

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