At a gathering of the Conservative Political Action Conference, a crowd cheered the pronouncement that the country has not met its vaccination goals. The inanity was breathtaking.
By S. E. Cupp
Chicago Sun-Times, July 14, 2021
I’m old enough to remember when, along with lowering the debt and deficit, anti-protectionism and so-called “family values,” a strong opposition to population control was one of the bedrock principles of the conservative movement and Republican Party.
But apparently, like lowering the debt and deficit, anti-protectionism, and so-called “family values,” a strong opposition to population control has been another casualty of the Trump era, a faded memory of the right-wing populists who prefer owning the left over principles and policies.
How else to explain the utter weirdness that occurred on the right-wing, Trump-loving cable network Newsmax the other night?
Anchor Rob Schmitt, previously a host at Fox News, suggested that COVID-19 vaccines are “generally kind of going against nature.”
He added, “Like, I mean, if there is some disease out there — maybe there’s just an ebb and flow to life where something’s supposed to wipe out a certain amount of people, and that’s just kind of the way evolution goes. Vaccines kind of stand in the way of that.”
Schmitt, though perhaps singular in his eloquence, is hardly alone in his opinion that “vax bad, COVID good” in the new right wing, the movement that’s chosen to parrot disgraced President Donald Trump’s anti-science quackery, villainization of public health, and rejection of common sense. (It painfully bears pointing out that Trump, some of his family members, and many of his employees contracted COVID-19 while bragging openly about flouting mask and social-distancing recommendations.)
At a gathering of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Texas this weekend — a once annual event that now so effectively spreads Trump’s self-interested conspiracy theories that they held it twice this year — a crowd cheered at the pronouncement that the country has not met its vaccination goals. The inanity was breathtaking.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem likewise got in on the ludicrous self-own at CPAC, bragging about her state’s refusal to, you know, do stuff that would keep residents alive.
“We’ve got Republican governors across this country pretending they didn’t shut down their states, that they didn’t close their regions, that they didn’t mandate masks,” she outraged, conveniently ignoring that that stuff might have kept South Dakota from becoming, on a per capita basis, one of the worst states in the nation for COVID-19 infections.
Other right-wing media personalities have also tried to scare Americans off the life-saving vaccine, for all kinds of insane “reasons,” including my favorite — that Bill Gates, who’s donated at least $1.75 billion to fight the virus, and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, created the pandemic to insert trackable microchips in people’s arms. If you want a quick laugh (or cry), scroll through TikTok to watch people insist spoons are sticking to the subversively implanted magnets in their arms.
But Schmitt’s cavalier population control musing stands out for its absurdity, because someone forgot to tell him and others that conservatives are supposed to be against these sorts of arguments. Bigly.
Back in 2009, President Barack Obama’s climate czar John Holdren faced considerable scrutiny over a 1970 textbook he co-authored that examined extreme and hideous ideas to curb population growth, like “forcing pregnant single women to undergo abortions and adding chemicals to drinking water to make people infertile,” as the New York Times put it.
Many on the right were understandably horrified.
More recently, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire for his response to a question about population growth and climate change at a 2019 town hall. He suggested more abortion access in poor countries was the solution. National Review rightly called that “outrageous,” and linked it back to the long and lamentable history of progressive eugenics.
Search “population control” on right-wing sites like The Federalist, and a long list of articles, spanning years, and covering issues like China’s one-child policy, pop up.
So, what’s changed? Are Schmitt and others who have suggested that COVID-19 is evolution or even God’s way of thinning the herd, merely unaware that such arguments are long disavowed by the political movement they presumably support? Have they forgotten to read their recent history? Have they failed to consider the moral and ethical implications of such dangerous arguments?
That might be giving them too much credit. More likely, Trump and his corrupted GOP have so effectively turned conservative orthodoxy on its head that up is now down and right is now left.
The well-reasoned principles that helped drive the party to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries have been abandoned — by Trump notably, but most egregiously by movement conservatives, elected Republicans, and a right-wing media that should know better, that’s been here before.
So, when one goes on television and blithely cheerleads a gruesome argument for population control, presumably because he believes it will please his audience and the Republican base, it’s horrifying, disorienting and shameful — but wholly unsurprising. What it isn’t is conservatism. But, then, not much is nowadays, which is perhaps why Republicans keep losing. Because with ideas like these, who needs an opposition?