Say what you will about Joe Biden, but no one can jam more embarrassing faceplants into 45 seconds than the president. Under fire for not making his 70% vaccinated goal by July 4, Biden tried to shrug off responsibility by blaming immigration enforcement and long memories.
Biden was actually close on the long-memory issue among black Americans, but still managed to boot it. On the lack of enthusiasm among Hispanics, Biden managed a full faceplant, starting with the use of the term “Latinx”:
BIDEN: "It's awful hard as well to get Latinx vaccinated… Why? They're worried they'll be vaccinated and deported." pic.twitter.com/gt2mcuAGB2
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) June 24, 2021
There’s a reason why it’s been harder to get African Americans, initially, to get vaccinated: because they’re used to be experimented on — the Tuskegee Airmen and others. People have memories. People have long memories.
It’s awful hard, as well, to get Latinx vaccinated as well. Why? They’re worried that they’ll be vaccinated and deported.
Where to start, where to start … Let’s begin with Biden’s reference to the Tuskegee experiment, which is undoubtedly part of the cultural reluctance about new vaccines among black Americans, although how large a part is up for debate. The Tuskegee experiment didn’t involve the Tuskegee Airmen, however. It began in 1932, long before the formation of the 99th Pursuit Squadron in March 1941 and the first class of recruits in July of the same year. (The 80th anniversary comes up in a little over three weeks, in fact.) The two stories have no connection to each other besides geography, and in fact the Tuskegee Airmen are a tribute to the courage and pioneer spirit of black Americans — the opposite point Biden makes here.
By the way, there were a series of ethical failures with the Tuskegee experiment — but the biggest was not giving the subjects the cure. By 1943, penicillin had been proven to resolve syphilis, but the study’s leadership refused to provide it for the men in the study. That’s the opposite situation from today — but still, one can understand why the historical distrust caused by the Tuskegee experiment still resonates within black communities.
On the “Latinx” reference, that’s insultingly stereotyping. Most Hispanics don’t fear deportation; one has to wonder whether illegal immigrants of any ethnicity fear it in a Biden administration anyway. The term “Latinx” itself is unpopular among Hispanics, who largely resent its application by hard-line progressives attempting to rid the language of gender. If there is resistance to vaccination among Hispanics, it probably has the same reasons that it does in other demos: they’re nervous about taking novel vaccines under emergency approvals and want to wait and see whether there are any drawbacks. Scoffing at those concerns by claiming that Hispanics won’t engage over immigration issues is as patronizing and bigoted a statement as one will see by a leading politician.
We can play “if a Republican said this” all day long. The media will eventually cover Biden’s remarks here in detail, so just wait for the next edition of “Republicans pounce®!” to see it.