"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Search For The Holy Grail–COVID Vaccine In The Slums

Progressive principles have been put to the test in the nation’s capital; and liberals who have long championed the cause of Black Lives Matter and the plight of the black underclass are now expected to go across the Anacostia into the deepest inner city ghetto – Indian country, the worst of the worst neighborhoods, the slums. 

The DC Government has finally rolled out its COVID vaccine program, but in an expectedly dysfunctional way.   By fits and starts it has leaked vaccines to the general public; but because of a politically-driven distribution system, majority black wards have been given preference. 

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“Whites are raiding vaccine supplies meant for black folk”, howled two high placed DC politicians, “and a firewall against these predatory elitist invasions must be built.”  The most outspoken radical shouted, “Black people first”, and the official DC COVID site was revised to show that that majority black wards were to be served first.  

Despite disclaimers - black populations are at higher risk from COVID, have more underlying, compromising physical conditions, and have poorer access to quality health care and thus must be serviced first - the words of the Council activists angered many, and charges of unconstitutional, illegal action were levied.  Had the DC government made clear from the very beginning that vaccine distribution was to be based on epidemiology and risk,  there would have been no outcry; but because the democratic policy of first-come, first-serve among the elderly, instituted at the beginning of the rollout, was abruptly abandoned in favor of black wards first, the accusations of black racism persisted. 

Because black populations have been notoriously diffident in all aspects of COVID - masks, testing, social distancing - and are more anti-vaxxer by far than the white population, surpluses in black wards have resulted, and white affluent Washingtonians have, despite their nightmarish fears, driven to Southeast, the projects, and the loitered parking lots and littered aisles of local supermarkets to get vaccinated. White wards have been discriminated against for assiduously following prevention guidelines, and getting less infected and sick; and then for rightfully and legally acting quickly to get appointments wherever available 

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The next day the Mayor, realizing that she had overstepped her bounds – after all, white wards pay her salary– quickly did a volte face and re-opened all centers for all Washingtonians.  However, because there was now a shortage of vaccine supplies, because the demand for inoculations was extremely high especially in white wards, but because geographic equitability had to be maintained, the only sites with openings and vaccines were those in the far reaches of the inner city.

What was a good white, Upper Northwest Washington liberal to do?  After decades of championing the rights of the poor, oppressed, denied populations of Anacostia, they now were faced with the possibility of actually going there, crossing the river, setting foot in the most lawless, dangerous, and racially charged neighborhoods of the nation’s capital.  It was one thing to to be on the front lines of Black Lives Matter as long as those lines were chalked on the Mall, across from the Smithsonian museums, on lawns fronting nearby exhibitions of Durer, Leonardo, and the Expressionists.  It was another thing entirely to go into the belly of the beast, to risk life and limb in hell. 

Yet, the unconscionable had to be considered.  Unless one snapped up the vaccines in Congressional Heights, trips to California, Paris, and Gstaad would have to be delayed.  Wasn’t the Mayor aware that likes attract likes and that the old Leonard Bernstein operatic line in West Side Story ‘Stick to your own kind’ still had salience?  And what about the age-old principle of neighborhood schools? Community solidarity, bonding with one’s own, the free choice of association which gives American cities their integrity? Were these principles to be thrown to the wind in a catch all racial tumble?

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Of course Washington’s black population was having a yuk-up field day.  Now white people would finally understand segregation and back of the bus discrimination.  Former Mayor Marion Barry, after his overwhelming re-election even after a slew of criminal indictments, famously said to the white residents of the city, “Get over it”.  This is a black majority city where your rules do not apply.  Walking around money, prison time, and watching your back are our currency.  If you don’t like it, leave.

Barry’s words, as incendiary as they were to white Washington, were only rhetorical.  There was no rubber to meet the road.  Now there was. White, over-65 Washingtonians, comfortably situated and long used to a life of racial separation and ease were now faced with their worst fears – a trip across the river.  Armed caravans were out of the question, bodyguards only possible for the very wealthy and prominent, guns illegal.  Crossing the Anacostia without rifles, cannons, and shotguns was a suicide mission into Comanche country.  

The memory of White Wolf, the most feared, savage, and rapacious Indian leader of the 19th century, the man who defended Indian territory and with his brutal beheadings, disemboweling, and rapes sent an unmistakable message to white Union invaders, was alive and well in Congress Heights. 

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Some white, insistently liberal white Washingtonians wore the sticker of their COVID appointments in the slums as a badge of honor.  “I voted” was a nursery rhyme verse compared to the defiant, muscular, and ideologically pure,  “I got vaccinated in Southeast”.  Of course these lapel stickers were few and far between as Ward 3 mobilized action via their Council Member, their K Street lawyer brigade, and their Republican Congressional supporters.  Soon enough, COVID vaccine would be abundant in the white wards of the city, and queuing up would be no more stressful than waiting in line at Whole Foods.  The panic would disappear, Southeast would once again become Southeast.

It was always thus – white power did indeed exist, but not in the way hysterically claimed by BLM and progressive radicals.  There was never a plot to whiten America, to deny minority rights, or to preserve the status quo.  White people knew that their power resided in trust funds, securities, and the courts – innate, inherent power to be called on when needed. 

Survivors told of the ‘friendly, considerate, hospitable’ black people they met in Southeast, and urged those who had not yet been vaccinated to consider an appointment there.  They did not tell of their watery knees, dry mouth, and panicked fear response as they left the Beltway and dipped down into the projects on their way to their appointment; or the loiterers in the parking lot, the catcalls and whistles, the gantlet of big black men at the door.   Surviving meant that all that did not exist, could not exist, and never again would exist. 

Washington is a city as racially segregated as apartheid Johannesburg ever was.  The city is divided down the middle by Rock Creek Park – all black to the east, all white to the west – and while the races mix, mingle, and work together downtown in federal offices, they take separate busses home. 

Washington is a Democratic city.  Over ninety percent of the black population vote Democratic as they have for generations; and the white population is solidly and unchangeably progressive.  Yet racial lines are not crossed as class ones were decades ago when academics walked the picket lines with working class labor organizers; or even when MLK marched in a phalanx of white and black demonstrators. The city, like the country, is irreparably divided.  You just don’t go there, say whites about ‘east of the park’.  You just don’t.

The COVID crisis has set a few teeth on edge.  For the first time liberals have had to consider the unthinkable; but family, safety, security, and well-being always trump political ideals, so they have stayed on their side of the park…except for those few outliers who were goaded into crossing the Anacostia into Indian Country.

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