It’s been a while since I received an email like this and they’re not usually this blatant:
THE AFRICAN AMERICAN IN THE WOODPILE (notice how politically correct i am) Am i the only one who has noticed where most covid 19 cases and deaths have occurred? every large city with a black or minority population. why is this. Are rural americans supposed to give up our rights and freedoms to support the slums? i’m more worried about bubonic plague in the homeles s population. give us a break and start treating rural and urban populations differently. i am from a county with no covid deaths. opens us up. [name redacted] iron river wis
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the phrase, it’s actually “the n—er in the woodpile,” a phrase that has thankfully been nearly eliminated from English usage.
The email reminds me of Don Zaluchi from Detroit in The Godfather talking about the drug trade:
I want to keep it respectable. I don’t want it near schools. I don’t want it sold to children! That’s an infamia. In my city, we’d keep the traffic to the Dark People, the Coloreds – they’re animals anyway, so let them lose their souls.
Of course, our correspondent from Iron River, WI, probably doesn’t know anyone with the Coronavirus, so why should he care about people he has such contempt for? They’re just African Americans in Milwaukee and Detroit, animals anyway, so let them die while he reopens his business.
Or maybe our email correspondent has just been too isolated. Iron River is in Bayfield County which has three reported cases of the Coronavirus and has confirmed “community spread.” They’re also reporting the first death in the county from the disease occurred Friday.
“The individual was 78 years old, had no known contact with a lab confirmed positive COVID-19 case nor had traveled out of the area,” Sara Wartman, Health Officer Bayfield County Health Department, said in a released statement. “This person had been hospitalized for over three weeks and had not recently traveled in the community.”
The victim’s race was not identified.
Unfortunately, our Iron River correspondent is not alone in his attitude. The owner of the Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub location in Wauwatosa, Dan Zierath, announced Saturday after attending a protest of the governor’s “Safer at Home” order that he would be reopening his restaurant May 1 in defiance of the order.
“I’ve had about 60 to 70 percent of my employees reach out to me and tell me that they are willing to work if you’re not by all means, customers as well,” he told WISN-TV in Milwaukee. “If you want to stay at home, my God this is America, stay at home, you have every right to, but for the people that are tired of it and want to come out and have a meal by me, please do, you have that right.”
Zierath posted on his Facebook page a comment that was a little more edgy.
“Yes there are a couple of zip codes in Milwaukee that are a little worse but that’s because they didn’t follow the rules like the rest of us,” Zierath wrote.
You know, those people.
As has been noted elsewhere, the African American community has suffered the worst of the Coronavirus outbreak. It’s not surprising when you consider that the poorest among us have more underlying health issues, less access to regular health care and live in more densely populated areas.
Obviously that doesn’t mean other races are immune from the disease, just as we have learned the hard way it isn’t just the elderly and those with underlying health conditions that will fall victim to the disease.
But here is the obvious question, shouldn’t we care about everyone who will be affected by the disease, regardless of age or medical condition, or race of the victims? The answer is “of course,” but it seems impossible to get some people to live by this.
We’ve even gotten comments on our Facebook page blaming the spread of the disease on Muslim and immigrant communities. I’ve deleted the comments as fast as I can because we don’t tolerate racism on our page. It’s depressing to see how quickly some will find scapegoats for a pandemic. I’m waiting for the emails blaming Jews, too.
And I’m betting right now I’m going to get emails from people telling me that just because Milwaukee and Madison are suffering, it doesn’t mean the “rest of the state” needs to shut down. I don’t need the emails, because many of our elected officials are already saying the same thing.
When the “rest of the state” reopens, where do you think people from the worst-affected areas are going to go, bringing the disease with them? Are you going to create roadblocks to keep “those people” out?
On Saturday, one Confederate flag made its appearance at the rally in Brookfield against Governor Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order. It immediately caught everyone’s attention. A photographer immortalized it, and it became the symbol of the fight between Blue Fists and Red Baseball Cap voters in Wisconsin, despite the flag being put away nearly immediately after organizers became aware. (The disappointed flag-bearer, I’m told, left the rally.)
The Confederate flag’s appearance at the rally has since been condemned by many Republicans, saying it sent the wrong message. Maybe the wrong message is being sent when so much focus is on how white rural areas are not being hit nearly as hard as the urban areas – at least, not yet.