Having gotten into hot water for comparing COVID-19 public-health measures like mask and vaccine mandates to the Holocaust, and the Democrats supporting them to Nazis, Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has chosen a different but still powerfully offensive analogy. On Twitter she suggested that vaccine requirements by private businesses amount to segregation:
This is actually a doubly weird set of analogies, given Greene’s list of ailments she is treating as equivalent to a pandemic that has, at this point, killed 611,000 Americans, and that is now being spread by the highly contagious Delta variant. Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin asked a pertinent question: “Does this U.S. congresswoman believe that ‘venereal diseases’ are airborne? Given the evidence, we honestly have no choice but to say the odds are high that she does.”
It’s more objectionable, of course, that a member of Congress representing a former Confederate state where mandatory racial segregation replaced slavery and was imposed on public and private facilities for roughly three-quarters of a century would think of that monstrous regime as an appropriate analogy for restaurants and entertainment venues protecting their patrons from the consequences of a personal decision against COVID-19 vaccination. Last time I checked, the victims of Jim Crow did not choose to be members of an oppressed racial minority, nor did the system’s perpetrators have a rationale for segregation other than bigotry.
Greene’s cri de coeur against vaccination measures is all the more striking since the worm is finally turning among many of her fellow Republicans, who seem to have decided that treating the unvaccinated as a constituency group to be defended and even lionized has been a deadly political strategy. Yes, there are still some, like MTG’s Alabama counterpart Mo Brooks, who are actively promoting vaccine hesitancy. But his governor, Republican Kay Ivey, had a blunt counterpoint to offer when asked about the Heart of Dixie’s rising COVID-19 incident rate: “Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”
Given Georgia’s history and the regular flirting with racism central to the MAGA movement, in which she is a regularly provocative figure, Greene may be shamed into abandoning Jim Crow analogies for public policies she does not like. A visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington preceded her public apology for comparing that catastrophe to having to wear a mask during a pandemic. Maybe she should now visit the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, which has an exhibit on the Jim Crow era, or any of the many memorials to that ongoing atrocity she could find back home in her (and my) home state.
But MTG being MTG, the most we can probably expect is a new and different, yet also wholly inappropriate, analogy to the life-saving public-health efforts she opposes. What’s next? Federal COVID-19 public-education campaigns are the greatest assault on Georgians since Sherman’s March to the Sea? Don’t be surprised.