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In his book “Dying of Whiteness: How the politics of racial resentment is killing America’s heartland,” Jonathan Metzl, the director of Vanderbilt University’s Center for Medicine, Health and Society, put a human face on the opposition to many policies that would save lives and livelihoods. We talked all about it when I interviewed him back in January. I brought Metzl back because the novel coronavirus is amplifying his argument.

“It was kind of a warning of the lengths to which white working class voters could either have underlying racism or be manipulated to vote in support of wealthy donors and corporations, but against their own lifespans,” Metzl told me in the latest episode of “Cape Up.” “And it’s just been on steroids since this pandemic started.”

Protesters around the country marching on state capitals demanding their governors fully reopen their states to commerce and socializing are a manifestation of this. “People, when they’re the most desperate, it’s not like they become the most centrist. They become the most terrified,” Metzl explained. “Trump has been very artful at manipulating those anxieties and shifting the blame in ways that I think are very dangerous.”

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