Nicki Minaj and the vax mandate may portend the crumbling of the Dems’ hold on 90% of the Black vote

The Biden administration's shift from denying to imposing a vaccine mandate may be a historic blunder with profound consequences.  Done in haste, it jeopardizes the stratospheric levels of support for Democrats among African Americans.

In the wake of the shameful surrender of Afghanistan, a vaccination mandate might have seemed the perfect vehicle to divert attention to a new subject and assert tribal loyalties against stereotypes of Republicans and Trump fans.  Biden's controllers apparently concluded that demonization of the vaccine-hesitant would work to drive support its way because (in their minds) it is mainly deplorable Trump-supporters who are reluctant.  

But for reasons that only they can explain, the Biden crew forgot that the largest demographic slice of the unvaccinated was African Americans.  Biden's scolding tone ("our patience is wearing thin") was a naked resort to authoritarianism.  Apparently, nobody remembered that the notorious Tuskegee experiments, a prominent historical example of treating Blacks as subhuman lab animals, lives on vividly in the popular imagination of Blacks, and no doubt has been part of the "anti-racism" curriculum of many government school systems for decades.  Telling unvaccinated African Americans that you are getting impatient with them is hardly a recipe for persuasiveness; to the contrary, it is a recipe to incite rebelliousness.  Personal conversations with African Americans have revealed to me that, at least in the Northern California hothouse progressive environment, the harder the push to force Blacks into compliance, the greater the resistance.

And then along came Nicki Minaj, a Black rap artist with almost 23 million Twitter followers.  Her story of an unfortunate friend of a cousin in Trinidad following vaccination drew a quick response from the Biden White House, though in the account from official sources, a telephone call was offered, while Ms. Minaj asserts that a personal invitation to the White House was on offer.  Either way, she declined.

So why is this policy more dangerous for the Dems than other policy missteps that harm Blacks, like minimum wage boosts (that cost jobs) or opposition to school vouchers (that keep children in dysfunctional schools run for the benefit of employees, not students)?

I think there are two aspects that make mandatory vaccines different from past policy harms coming from the Dems.

One is that vaccination involves bodily integrity.  There is nothing more personal than involuntarily being forced to have a needle stuck in one's body and a potentially unsafe substance injected.  The Nuremberg Code recognizes this.  A group whose ancestors were enslaved, and who have been encouraged to nurse resentments over it for more than half a century, is less likely than others to submit on the grounds that the elite and powerful people insisting on it know best.  The Tuskegee example is all too apposite.

The other aspect that particularly rankles African American sensibilities is the return of segregation, in the form of "vaccine passports" that in some localities are being required in order to dine out, attend concerts, and other normal human activity.  "You are not allowed into this restaurant!" has direct connections to the early battles of the Civil Rights revolution when activists were arrested for daring to eat at a Woolworth's lunch counter.  It essentially told Blacks that they were unclean, unfit to associate with the rest of society.  The same message is now being delivered to people of conscience who resist a vaccine they believe to be unsafe, one that undeniably short-circuited normal safety procedures for other vaccines.

By putting Republicans, especially Trump-supporters, in the same category as Blacks in contemptibility, the Biden administration and its media lackeys are playing with fire.  Nicki Minaj — who appeals to rebellious adolescents of all ages and races — certainly understands that:

She is also claiming that other artists agree with her but are afraid to speak up.  Bravery appeals to those of rebellious mindset and was a key element in the appeal of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and '70s.

The vaccine mandate comes on top of other recent insults by Democrats to African Americans.  Roger L. Simon of The Epoch Times enumerates several, including the trashing of Larry Elder, who would have been California's first Black governor; the large numbers of Black people trapped (and kept in) homelessness, where COVID is raging; the denial of monoclonal antibodies to Southern states with the heaviest Black population; and I would add the sudden resolve to deport Black Haitians from Del Rio, Texas, while other racial groups are not being flown out.

It looks as though the Biden administration, with no effective leader at its top, makes scattershot decisions on the fly and ends up committed to very harmful policies that weren't thought through adequately.  If it persists in its vax mandate (and backing down would be regarded as a catastrophic and humiliating defeat), then there is a good chance that 90% of the Black vote for Democrats will be as much a relic of the past as the formerly "Solid South" for the Democrats is today.

Photo credit: Philip NelsonCC BY-SA 2.0 license.

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