Will the Flathead County Republicans Really Risk Public Health to Hold a Fundraiser with Charlie Kirk?

virus infection 3d illustration
viral infection in green background, 3d illustration

We’re about to find out whether raw milk can contain the Covid-19 virus.

This evening, despite the cancellation of events across the state designed to slow the spread of Covid-19, the Flathead County Republican Central Committee seems determined to barrel ahead this evening with their fundraiser featuring noted bigot Charlie Kirk and noted area insurrectionist Paul Vallely.

As of noon today, the event has not been canceled, and organizers are still selling tickets to the event and exhibition, which includes 30 exhibitors at the Kalispell Hilton Garden Inn, including booths for Steve Daines, Corey Stapleton, Elsie Arntzen, Matt Rosendale and a host of Republican legislators.

There are certainly reasons for concern about the event going forward. Governor Bullock declared a state of emergency Thursday and the state announced four cases of patients with coronavirus yesterday.

Kirk, the only person known to have written a book without ever reading one, presents a more specific threat.

Kirk attended the CPAC conference that is MAGA Ground Zero for the virus, along with Montana legislators like Theresa Manzella and David Dunn.

Perhaps foreshadowing what will happen when Kalispell becomes ground zero for a Montana epidemic, ultra-right-wing commentator Michelle Malkin criticized the CPAC organizers for putting a fundraiser ahead of health:

Several far-right personalities who have clashed with CPAC—deeming it a bastion of the establishment Republican Party—slammed organizers for the coronavirus exposure. Columnist Michelle Malkin, a once-prominent figure at CPAC who gave a speech this year at a rival event hosted by a number of white nationalists, accused Schlapp of choosing “donor protection over concern for health of conservative grassroots.”

Presumably on his way to Kalispell tonight, Kirk called out the “hysteria” because he was at a crowded airport. That’s certainly reassuring that he won’t come in contact with someone carrying the virus.

This week he has alternated between demanding that the US close its borders to stop the spread of coronavirus and flying around the country claiming it’s a hoax. Little wonder he’s a Trump supporter.

Kirk, a world-renowned epidemiologist and community college dropout, seems to believe that all those scientists and doctors with their liberal degrees and book-learnin’ just don’t understand that Covid-19 is a plot to destroy President Trump. In a column for Newsweek (a magazine that used to let educated people help us understand the world better), Kirk claimed:

Having failed to remove Trump by other means, they hope the “Chinese Coronavirus” or “Wuhan Virus,” as I like to call it (not racist! Accurate!), a pandemic from China, our greatest geopolitical foe, will show the American people that only a vote for the razor-sharp mind of former Vice President Joe Biden can save the republic.

What could go wrong with the event tonight, with a speaker who has traveled through busy airports, who has been in close proximity to at least one person with Covid-19, and who doesn’t believe that the medical leaders in our country are right when they suggest that we take reasonable precautions to avoid unnecessary crowds?

With a crowd that is primed to believe in conspiracy theories and disbelieve science?

Montana Republicans should have demonstrated the moral judgment not to attend an event with Kirk and Vallely in the first place, but lacking that moral fiber, could they at least give some thought to the elderly and unwell in Montana and cancel this event?

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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