Raymond M. Berger
Real Bullet Points

More Dead White People: A Public Health Success Story?

For the first time in this pandemic, racial disparities had “flipped.”

The woke crowd is obsessed with race. This was evident in The Morning newsletter of the New York Times published on June 9, 2022. The topic was racial disparities in the COVID pandemic.

For the previous two years, the Times had reported daily on the disproportionate impact of COVID on racial and ethnic minorities, replete with graphs that highlighted the greater vulnerability and suffering of these groups.

But the June 9 newsletter was different. For the first time in this pandemic, racial disparities had “flipped.” Whites now had lower vaccination rates and higher death rates than blacks and Latinos. According to the Times, this was…”a remarkable turnabout, a story of both public health success and failure.” The success part was the decrease in black and Latino deaths.

But why pick black and Latino status as a way to monitor the contours of the pandemic? There are certainly other parameters that are more relevant—parameters such as obesity, diet, and drug and alcohol abuse.

The answer lies in a fundamental narrative of the woke crowd, one that is reflected in the pages of the Times. That narrative divides the world into oppressed and oppressor groups. Blacks and Latinos are among today’s oppressed. These are the darlings. The oppressors include whites, men, people of faith, political conservatives, and white, economically successful people. These are the deplorables.

Where do Jews fit in all of this, according to the Times? We will never know because no one reports COVID statistics separately for Jews. And if anyone did, the Times is not likely to cite them. That is because religion is not relevant here. Also, the wokesters at the Times aren’t particularly sympathetic to Jews. In the woke universe of the Times, Jews can be oppressors but never the oppressed. So why bother to evoke sympathy for them? Besides, Jews are suspect. They lie outside the woke family because they appear to be white, as well as economically and socially successful. And many of them support Israel. To the wokester, this is a sure sign of their white oppressor status and their insensitivity to the oppressed Palestinians, a people “of color.”

That none of this narrative is true is beside the point.

The Problem with Wokeness

Wokesters pose as humanitarians. They side with the downtrodden. They claim fierce devotion to “equity”, that is, to fairness. But contrary to their public persona, wokesters are partisan political advocates.

It is noble to advocate for the downtrodden. But today’s wokesters have walked into a maze with a dead end. They have rejected a basic tenet of our democracy: that people must be judged as individuals. They must be rewarded on the basis of merit and competence, and not on the basis of immutable characteristics such as race and ethnicity. That principle has prevented American society from degenerating into the kind of ethnic and religious conflict that has destabilized other societies across the world.

Wokesters never stop to think of the consequences of abandoning merit in favor of group membership. New societal trends will favor new ways of categorizing people. Today’s darlings may turn into tomorrow’s deplorables. And without the principles of individual identity and merit to protect us, today’s darlings may find themselves out in the cold.

None of this is to deny that some groups have suffered centuries of discrimination and worse. Or that some groups have had greater economic success due to their group membership. But by replacing historical bias with contemporary bias based on group membership, wokesters may be condemning us to a bleak future.

My advice to the folks at the New York Times: Think more about Americans as a group and less about divisions within the American family.

About the Author
The author is a life-long Zionist and advocate for Israel. He believes that a strong Jewish state is invaluable, not only to Jews, but to the world-wide cause of democracy and human rights. Dr. Berger earned a PhD in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has twenty-seven years of teaching experience. He has authored and co-authored three books as well as over 45 professional journal articles and book chapters. His parents were Holocaust survivors.
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