Chris Hayes: GOP Stoking Vaccine Culture War At The Cost Of American Lives | Video | RealClearPolitics

Chris Hayes: GOP Stoking Vaccine Culture War At The Cost Of American Lives


MSNBC's host Chris Hayes discussed the politicization of the coronavirus vaccines:

CHRIS HAYES: Good evening from New York. I'm Chris Hayes. I'm going to start off tonight showing you an image that in my humble opinion perfectly represents the state of the country right now, the state of American politics, the state of our battle against Coronavirus and the challenges we face. And at first, this image will probably make no sense depends on you know your background here, because it needs some unpacking.

But here it is. Just to start out with, Chip Roy, a Republican congressman from the suburbs of San Antonio and Austin tweeted this. Come inject it. Get it? Like the basic meeting here is more or less you can give me the vaccine over my cold dead body more or less.

OK, so first of all, some background on Chip Roy, the man who tweeted this. He comes from a conservative district that has been generally trending towards Democrats the way that a lot of suburban districts has, but he`s held on to his seat. Around January 6, he made some headlines because he said that he would vote to certify the electors for Joe Biden. Remember, a majority of Republicans did not, going so far as to object to the seating of fellow representatives who said they would challenge Biden certification. And then he roundly condemned Trump`s words and actions leading up to the insurrection.


REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): The President of the United States deserves universal condemnation for what was clearly, in my opinion, impeachable conduct, pressuring the vice president to violate his oath of the Constitution to count the electors.


HAYES: Now, Roy did not end up voting for impeachment, despite the fact you see him there saying it`s impeachable conduct, but he did get attacked by Trump for it. And since then, of course, he has had to pay the price. We know how this goes. He challenged Congresswoman Elise Stefanik for that leadership position that was vacated by Congressman Congresswoman Liz Cheney who was booted out by Kevin McCarthy in the caucus because she was critical of the president whipping up a violent insurrection.

Chip Roy threw his hat in the ring for that and he got soundly drubbed after Trump endorsed, of course, Stefanik, despite the fact that Roy has a much more conservative voting record. So, that`s your Chip Roy is, fairly standard conservative Republican who is adapting himself to Trump world.

Chip Roy is also a cancer survivor who tweeted in December, "My dad survived polio. I'm for widespread availability of effective vaccines. If when I choose to take it, I won't carry a card." Now, I don't know whether he's been vaccinated or not. It would be logical to conclude that he has gotten the vaccine. I truly hope he has.

We did reach out to his office to ask. We've gotten no response. He's told other reporters it's none of their business. But it`s Congressman Roy's tweeting that image, the one that we started the show with, the you know, come inject it, again, which there's a lot going on there. It's important to know there is a very big divergence happening in this country right now day by day by day, to paths divergence between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.

Over 67 percent of adults in the country have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. But we`ve hit a wall. And the wall is not about supply. Remember, we had a wall, supply wall back in January, February and March. We have more supply than almost anywhere in the world. But wall is not really due to logistics. You can get a vaccine just about anywhere in the country. The reality is there`s a chunk of the country that does not want to take the vaccine or at least has not gotten around to it.

Now, the not gotten around to it, we can work on that. And I think we're going to talk to our next guest about that. But the biggest resistance right now and you`re seeing the data is coming from a hardening political, socio-political cultural opposition to the vaccine among conservatives, particularly in rural America. And this has been cultivated by right-wing politicians, people like Congressman Chip Roy, and by right-wing media like Fox News who have done segments encouraging people not to get the vaccine.

It is very, very sick. It's sick. It's gotten a lot of people killed. It will get many more people killed. That`s just the simple fact of the matter. Right now the Delta variant is spreading. We are seeing what happens in the death data.

In the month of June, nearly 100 people died of COVID in Maryland. And thankfully, that`s a very small number relative to the peak of the pandemic. According to state officials, 100 percent of those deaths were people who were not vaccinated. The CDC says that it May, 99.2 percent of COVID deaths in the U.S. were people who are unvaccinated.

The vaccines, and they've been tested, and we've got real-life data now, not just clinical trials. Remember, these are going into millions and millions and millions and millions and millions of arms around the world, different populations, we`re getting the data back. The vaccines are essentially magic.

I mean, you might remember last year when we were covering this pandemic, sitting here, talking to you into this camera, I used to say all the time, we had two bad options, we wish for a third, right? We do our number one, was shutting down the entire economy and save lives. That was awful. Kids couldn't go to school. People lost their livelihoods. People didn't -- couldn't go out of their house, right? They couldn`t hug their relatives.

The door number two was letting the virus run rampant so the economy could stay open. And that was worse, hundreds of thousands of excess deaths. And we had to figure out a way to get to door number three, a way to have a life and an economy and family dinners and people you can hug without letting the virus run rampant and kill off hundreds of thousands of people.

And we got exactly door number three. We've got the solution, the vaccine. And basically, nothing else in life functions this way. Think about it. None of your problems like in your work life, your relationships can be solved by someone just saying here, take the shot, it's fixed.

You're staring at financial problems, you're in debt, you're upset about a breakup, you don`t get a shot. That`s not how human life works. It`s complicated and it's hard. But this is one exception. This is literally what the vaccines offer. And it's in this context that we have you right- wing movement mobilizing to refuse that solution to nihilistically cultivate skepticism in their flock to stick it to the liberals, but also get lots of people killed.

And that brings us this image we started with. It is a play on a very famous Texas image, a Texas meme, if you will, this one called the Gonzales battle flag, which depicts cannon and says come and take it. Now, the flag dates back to the first military engagement of the Texas revolution with Mexican authorities who tried to seize a small cannon they had lent to the Texas settlers. The phrase itself dates back even farther back, is attributed to King Leonidas of Sparta, who supposedly gave that response to demand his soldiers to the demand that his soldiers lay down his weapons. Like no, come and take it.

So, you can see why Texas likes a slogan. It's a very Texas slogan. It was a Texas slogan for a long time. We're Texas, the Republic of Texas, come and take it. Recently, it's become a very gun rights slogan. You know, just try to come and take our guns. Just try to come and take our weapons. Texas Senator Ted Cruz tweeted a Thanksgiving version in response to efforts to limit big gatherings during the pandemic, come and take my turkey.

OK, real tough guy, that Ted Cruz. So, here's Chip Roy, Ted Cruz's former chief of staff tweeting it out July 2021 as the Delta variant is spreading in unvaccinated communities. We`re seeing case numbers go up. We`re seeing case numbers go up faster, higher per capita in counties that were run by Trump than those won by Biden. We're seeing what the data says about the protection the vaccines provide, the fact that death is the cost of non- vaccination for unknown -- untold number of people that Congressman Roy represents in his Texas district.

I mean, take a step back for a second too. Remember, his fellow congressman in Texas's sixth district, next door, Congressman Ron Wright, died in February of COVID. None of this makes sense. It doesn't make sense. It's -- I don't know. It's like a dark force. They like COVID. They want to see people die. I don't know. I don't know. It's part of what makes this one image such a perfect encapsulation of our moment.

He appears to be saying, how dare you say you're going to come and inject me with this life-saving medicine. But this is now the mainstream right- wing conservative view. You do have -- it's true. And you know, God bless them. Good for them. Establishment figures, Sen. Mitch McConnell saying vaccines are good, Tommy Tuberville down in Alabama did a pro-vaccine message, but the base of the Republican Party, let us be clear, people like Congressman Roy, if not anti-vaccine, they're anti-pro-vaccine, saying the vaccine you shouldn`t be foisted on people. It's some government plot. It's something being foisted upon the loyal people. You`re shoving it down our throats and you can come in and inject me.

Yesterday, President Biden in the context of us hitting this wall and trying to get a vaccine in many arms as possible to save as many lives as possible so people can do normal stuff and hug their family members and go to work and like, live, said they will go door to door to bring the vaccines to people so we can get those numbers up. And Republican Congressman Marjorie Taylor Greene compared that effort to the Nazis, again, apparently learning nothing from her visit to the Holocaust Museum, no surprises there.

I understand where we are right now due to incredible work by thousands and thousands of people, researchers support staff, the people giving the shot, the people who gave me a shot who I wanted to hug in gratitude, right, all these people working towards this project, this great project to save people's lives. We have safe, effective free vaccines that can be acquired almost anywhere. And those vaccines will save lives, they will save money, they will help the economy reopen schools. The benefits are almost impossible list. There's nothing on the other side of the ledger, nothing. There's nothing on the other side of ledger. It's not a trade-off.

And yet, increasingly, one political movement is trying to turn the vaccine into a cultural wedge that their people don`t get vaccinated. So they could like, tweet out snarky memes and stick up their middle finger, the other parts of America, to cost of American lives. That's where we're at right now.
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