Thursday, June 11, 2020

Vos Should Apologize, Educate Himself, Over Blatantly Racist Comment About His Constituents

The Assembly Speaker says it's just "science" in a cringing way that's reminiscent of Ron Burgundy.

Well, there appeared to be a reason why Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was so indignant about being secretly recorded by a staffer for Gov. Tony Evers — they caught Vos saying something incredibly racist.

During the May 14 meeting between Republican leaders and the Democratic governor, in which the two sides came to no decision on how to address coronavirus in the state, Vos made clear what he thought was the main driver of coronavirus in Racine County, part of which he represents.

It was immigrants' faults, he said.

"I know the reason at least in my region is because of a large immigrant population where it’s just a difference in culture, where people are living much closer and working much closer," Vos said. 

Discussing his comments with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Linda Boyle, co-president of the Racine Interfaith Coalition, decried Vos's recorded statement.

"Most of our immigrant community are essential workers and they have no choice but to go to work," she said.

Her comments are more in-line with why people of color are more likely to contract the disease: systemic racism has made it so white workers are more likely to have jobs where they can work from home, while BIPOC workers are more likely to be "essential workers."

Darryl Morin, president of Forward Latino, expressed dismay at Vos's words.

"I understood it to be a rather dismissive remark that immigrants and immigrant lives aren’t as much a concern for the speaker," Morrin said.

Other groups' leaders went further.

"He should resign his leadership position because of his disregard for the lives of immigrants and working people," Voces de la Frontera Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz said.

Vos, for what it's worth, told the Journal Sentinel that "there's no need to apologize." And in a tweet, he said his views were backed by scientific fact.

"Listen to what was said and not the sensationalist headline. Facts show communities of color are disproportionally impacted," Vos wrote. "That's science."

The conclusion is right, but Vos is wrong to suggest the Latinx "lifestyle" somehow makes them more susceptible to the disease. Again, the issue here is that Latinx workers were more likely to be frontline workers during the stay-at-home order in the state, which resulted in a higher likelihood of contracting the disease.

Vos needs to educate himself on the matter, and become more aware of why his words are not only wrong, but offensive. But then again, that's a tall order to ask for, given that he's the same person who said it was safe to vote during a pandemic — while wearing PPE gear from head-to-toe.

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