What’s the Difference Between Corey Stapleton and a Virus?

Photo from MT SoS web page

While they’re both tiny agents of destructive infection that just won’t seem to go away no matter how much everyone wants them to, there’s one key difference between Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton and a virus: a virus, at least, isn’t racist.

In his latest taxpayer-funded e-mail screed to support his pathetic bid for the U.S. Congress, Stapleton didn’t talk about how Montana can run a primary election when candidates may not be able to campaign and when voters may not be safe going to polling stations. Instead, he went for the low-hanging fruit of xenophobia and racism to attack China over the Covid-19 virus.

In his letter, entitled “The Wuhan Black Swan,” Stapleton, in about 100 words, managed to put the blame on China three times.

And while calling Covid-19 the Wuhan Virus plays well in the Fox News crowd, it’s part of a long history of racism that is having a real impact today:

That the coronavirus has spread far beyond China hasn’t diminished the spate of East Asian prejudice. Brian Wong, a Rhodes Scholar from Hong Kong who is studying in Britain, has also experienced stigmatization on public transport. Jonathan Mok, a student from Singapore, was the victim of a violent attack on the streets of London. Restaurateurs in San Francisco’s Chinatown report that business has dropped since the start of the outbreak, and a Vietnamese artist was disinvited from a London art fair because of fears she would be perceived as a carrier. “If you are seen to be Asian,” Wong told us, “even if you are not coughing or displaying symptoms, people naturally walk away from you.”

Just a brief look at this article on Wikipedia shows how prevalent the xenophobia and racism linked to the coronavirus pandemic have been.

Montanans—like all Americans—just want some steady leadership as this outbreak spreads across the country. We don’t want e-mailed racist tropes; we don’t want jokes about hand sanitizer. We just want leaders, and in this case, we want a leader who inspires us to believe his office can handle what might be a massive challenge to our primary elections.

Failing that, we just want people like Stapleton to practice some social isolation and just stop talking.

In the few short months Stapleton has left in his political career, is it too much to ask that he do what he’s been elected to do and focus on ensuring election security and ballot access? Too much to ask that he help counties develop a plan to make sure all Montanans can express their voices at the ballot box or in the mail?

It would seem so.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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    • For starters, we didn’t have Corey Stapleton in office to smear Asians or tribal members. Also, it appears the “Hong Kong” flu was spread to the U.S. by soldiers returning from the Vietnam War. And, it wasn’t nearly as deadly as COVID-19 appears to be (0.5% v. 3.4%). Finally, there could have been racism and xenophobia during that flu pandemic that you weren’t aware of. One thing is certain, all pandemics affect socio-economic classes differently: the poor taking much more of the brunt than the wealthy.

    • Maybe our standards for what is and is not racist should not rest on the actions of the people in 1968?

      And since we’re talking about history, remember the Spanish influenza? Guess where that started?


  • The coronavirus disproportionately kills older men who have neglected their health. In other words, Trump’s base. If Stapleton were smart, he’d be trying to keep the people who voted for him and Trump alive. But he’s spreading the word that it is all China’s fault, diverting attention from what needs to be done. And so, the best thing that could happen to Republicans would be to vote people like Stapleton, Gianforte, Daines, and Trump out of office. It’s virtually a matter of life and death. Republicans are just too damn dumb to do what needs to be done to keep everybody alive.

    • So Wade, is this another reason Hillary lost 2016 because the Obama administration seen 12,469 deaths due H1N1 Swine Flu. What do you teach? English or History?

      CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (range: 195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (range: 8868-18,306) in the United States due to the (H1N1)pdm09 virus.

      • Have you seen the CDC projections for the potential death rate for Covid-19?

        I guess we could take your opinion on the subject or we could listen to the viewpoint of the experts in the medical community who say this requires a much more serious response.

        I’ll stick with the doctors.

  • This is a totally ridiculous reach to tag someone racist. This is a typical idiotic liberal tactic that really repulses voters and insults their intelligence. Ask what your country can do for you, not what you can do for your country. Appears that is your mantra. Thanks for getting Trump reelected and the house passed back to the Republicans.

    • I suspect when Corey Stapleton flames out of the Republican primary for the House it won’t have much impact on Trump’s re-election or the prospects for the Democrats to hold the House, but thanks for the excellent example of hyperbole.

  • Owners of trash websites generating traffic by posting links to their nonsense here is entirely pathetic. Kind of like a virus…

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