No, Georgians Aren’t Callous Racists For Enjoying Post-COVID Reopenings

No, Georgians Aren’t Callous Racists For Enjoying Post-COVID Reopenings

Georgians aren't dying in droves from coronavirus since the state began reopening, but the latest 'reporting' from The Washington Post confirms the paper's objectivity is dead indeed.
Casey Chalk
By

In case you needed more proof that The Washington Post is exploiting the COVID-19 crisis in every possible section from Style to Sports to influence the November elections, consider its story on a shopping mall in an Atlanta suburb, which appeared on the front page of the paper’s Sunday edition.

In the article, headlined “‘This feels great’ — A preview from Georgia about how America might reemerge from the coronavirus: Eating, drinking, touching and throwing caution to the wind,” writer Stephanie McCrummen “reports” on Avalon, a development of restaurants and shops in Alpharetta, which recently reopened after some coronavirus restrictions lifted.

McCrummen ominously describes “a great American experiment [that] got underway in a place promising ‘the luxury of the modern South’ with none of the death.” She tells of a middle-aged man mask-free ordering a venti dark with cream and 12 sugars before a nervous, 60-year-old barista. She describes a maskless woman who skips the hand sanitizer at the front of a clothing store, incautiously touching lots of merchandise.

Such patrons, says McCrummen, are “untroubled” by the thousands of coronavirus cases and hundreds of deaths in Fulton County, where Avalon is located. McCrummen makes sure to remind readers that at Avalon, “shoppers tended to be wealthy and white.” Ah yes, those careless, selfish, conservative white southerners, more concerned about getting back to their manicures and custom cocktails than the health of their fellow citizens.

McCrummen’s Article Is Part of a Trend

McCrummen earlier this year wrote a long feature on the heroic “rebellion” of a white, middle-class woman in a Georgia community who won’t vote for Trump. For some reason I have a harder time finding Washington Post articles on heroic conservatives in predominantly liberal areas. McCrummen also participated in the paper’s aggressive, absurdly biased reporting on the confirmation hearing of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

This is the same Washington Post that published Dana Milbank’s April 21 op-ed on Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen, which Milbank labeled “a bold plan to turn his state into the place to die,” and claimed coronavirus would “burn through Georgia like nothing has since William Tecumseh Sherman.” Native Georgians, one might be surprised to learn, don’t find the comparison to Sherman’s march particularly funny.

Indeed, like much of the rest of corporate media, The Washington Post launched a campaign indicting Georgia for all manner of alleged malfeasance. This included articles with provocative titles such as “For black folks, it’s like a setup: Are you trying to kill us?” suggesting the state’s health policies are racist.

Georgia Looks No Different than Northern Virginia

As fate would have it, my family was in Georgia during the time McCrummen wrote the article on Alpharetta. Although we live in Virginia, we drove down to visit my wife’s parents in another suburb of Atlanta not far from Alpharetta. In the two weeks we spent there, I was surprised not by the supposed carelessness and recklessness of suburban, conservative Georgians, but by how similar conditions were to the much more liberal, technocratic northern Virginia.

Like northern Virginia, most stores in the Georgia towns I visited — Dunwoody, Kennesaw, Norcross, and Sandy Springs — were closed. In the grocery stores Kroger and Publix, practically all patrons were wearing face masks and socially distancing, just like in northern Virginia. At a Mexican restaurant I visited in Kennesaw, all the staff were wearing masks, hand sanitizer was available at the entrance, and customers were seated far apart from one another. Everything was cleaned before and after the guests, who were relatively rare, enjoyed their meals.

The only identifiable difference in behavior I consistently observed was the relative lack of masks among Georgians while outdoors, although they did keep their distance from passersby. Many northern Virginians ridiculously feel compelled to don masks outside, even when no one is anywhere near them.

Alternatively, there was far less application of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory guidelines regarding masks and social distancing on our drives between Virginia and Georgia. While we wore masks, kept our distance, and used hand sanitizer before and after going into gas station convenience stores, many other patrons were noticeably less concerned.

These stores were in communities far less affluent: Petersburg and McKenney, Virginia; Henderson and Kannapolis, North Carolina; Cowpens and Spartanburg, South Carolina. (If you’re wondering why all the stops, our three young children require frequent bathroom breaks).

From Virginia to Georgia, I encountered many cashiers — black, white, and Hispanic — and practically none of them bothered with masks. Certainly none discouraged people from standing too close to one another. In fact, while in Georgia, we witnessed an African-American woman who, when advised to keep her distance in line prior to entering a Target, complained such restrictions were “racist.”

The Washington Post Cherry-Picks Coronavirus Anecdotes

All this is to say that claims by The Washington Post and other prominent media outlets that conservative, white southerners, especially the more affluent ones, are defiantly and carelessly disregarding CDC advice are absurdly false.

Anyone can find examples of whites or blacks, conservatives or liberals, men or women, who are negligent of health warnings and recklessly put others at risk. One can also find examples of any of the same demographics being excessive and ridiculous in following CDC guidance, uncharitably shaming those who don’t do the same. Focusing attention exclusively on one demographic to ridicule them for their supposed decadence and to rally reader disdain against them, as The Washington Post has done, evinces both a bias and a political agenda.

Certainly, Kemp took a risk by beginning to open his state earlier than others, and earlier than many health officials advised. Perhaps it was injudicious, although the jury is still out. So far, the Peach State has not become the “petri dish” of coronavirus cases leftist commentators warned about. The number of those infected has not exploded, but remained relatively steady.

Georgians, thank God, are not “dying in droves” four weeks after some businesses began reopening. What has died is any pretense of objectivity even in The Washington Post’s straight news coverage, which in its shameful attempts to label conservative Georgians as bigots and racists reflects its descent into further irresponsible journalism. As southerners like to say, bless their hearts.

Casey Chalk is a columnist for The American Conservative, Crisis Magazine, and The New Oxford Review. He has a bachelors in history and masters in teaching from the University of Virginia, and masters in theology from Christendom College.

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