Covid responses reflected much more. Plus, a 'Talkline' visit. And Obama and 'cancel culture'

By Gary Abernathy

For much of rural America, isolation increasingly the norm

The disparity in how different parts of the country reacted to the covid pandemic was part of the larger isolation that’s happening culturally and politically, I note in my new Washington Post column:

Now, with plummeting case and death counts, DeWine officially lifted restrictions statewide last week. Still, some regions remain largely unvaccinated. Jared Warner is health commissioner in Highland County, about 75 miles south of Columbus, where the immunization rate of just 29 percent receiving at least one shot mirrors most neighboring counties. Warner told me Friday that DeWine’s “Vax a Million” lottery program was having some impact — not necessarily in persuading skeptics to come around, but “we’re really seeing people get it now instead of down the road.” The disparity in how different regions of the country responded to the pandemic will be hotly debated for years. Statistics can be found to bolster each side’s arguments about the degree to which the virus respected health mandates. In many places where lockdowns and restrictions were largely ignored in the name of freedom, economies not only survived but also flourished. The very nature of sparsely populated rural life vs. congested cities cried out for a targeted approach that was, sadly, seldom employed. Cultural considerations were ignored or ridiculed, leading to more animosity.

In rural parts of America that never really shut down, I point out that churchgoing may have been the activity most impacted, and I offer examples of how two different churches – one, a megachurch, the other, a small country church – reacted to the pandemic.

But in many parts of rural America, isolation increasingly means more than just covid restrictions:

For many rural Americans, the disparate response to covid-19 was consistent with their growing detachment from other societal trends. The broader nation’s obsession with race, gender and social-justice issues leaves many feeling adrift and disconnected. Their fierce dedication to the notion of personal freedom, which led them to balk at covid-19 restrictions, and their generational concepts of faith, family and patriotism are increasingly regarded as outmoded.

Read the whole column here. Subscription may be required.

Another round of ‘Talkline’ with Hoppy Kercheval

As always, I enjoyed being on “Talkline” with Hoppy Kercheval this morning. We discussed the attention West Virginia’s two senators, Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Shelley Moore Capito, are getting on the national stage. Here’s a clip of our conversation.

Obama says daughters have good take on ‘cancel culture’

While I never voted for Barack Obama due to political differences, I’ve long admired him as a person, a husband and father. He has always set a good example in those areas, seems to me.

USA Today has a brief story on an interview Obama did with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, in which Obama expresses pride that his daughters haven’t jumped too completely onto the “cancel culture” train.

Obama said, "They'll acknowledge that sometimes among their peer group or in college campuses, you'll see folks going overboard (on cancel culture). But they have a pretty good sense of 'Look, we don't expect everybody to be perfect. We don't expect everybody to be politically correct all the time, but we are going to call out institutions or individuals if they are being cruel.'”

Sounds about right. Read the story here.

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