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Monday, August 15, 2022

Boyd: Rokita relishes roles as a contrarian

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At a time when coronavirus cases are spiking, local hospitals are calling in the National Guard and Navy for help, hospital staff are suffering from burnout, and there’s a fear of running out of beds in intensive care units, Attorney General Todd Rokita thought it was the right time to let the state (and the world) know he doesn’t believe the situation is as dire as it’s being portrayed.

In an interview with WSBT in South Bend on Dec. 17, Rokita was asked about his lawsuits against the Biden administration’s federal vaccine mandates. Host Todd Connor asked Rokita, “How do you rationalize trying to stop people from having to get the vaccines, but yet so many in the hospital are the unvaccinated?”

Rokita replied, “Well, you know, first of all, I don’t believe any numbers anymore. And I’m sorry about that, but this has been politicized.”

Like Connor, the host, my first follow-up question was, “You don’t believe the numbers coming from your own people?” The current administration is Republican. Rokita is Republican, so I would think he would have more trust in this administration than he would a Democrat’s. My second follow-up question was, “Who politicizes issues more than Rokita?”

I’ve noticed many on the right love to gaslight us and say the left is politicizing an issue when it’s those on the right all along. If you continuously repeat a talking point, people will believe it and it becomes a reality. So, each time a politician says the left is politicizing an issue, those who follow that politician will believe it so. Rokita is good at this. It’s an art form for many on the conservative right. The Democrats really should take lessons.

Rokita has politicized the coronavirus pandemic for a while now.

COVID-19 shouldn’t be a political issue for anyone. It’s a life and death issue for so many. Since March 16, 2020, the virus has caused the death of 18,280 Hoosiers. There were 170 deaths from Dec. 16 to Dec. 27, and there were 5,815 new cases during that period. I don’t care about your political affiliation; these numbers are concerning. Instead of playing politics, it would be nice if Rokita made himself useful and tried to find ways to protect Hoosier lives in a real way.

Instead, Rokita is a habitual filer of lawsuits against the Biden administration when it comes to COVID-19 mandates. As of this month, Rokita joined 23 other states in suing the Biden administration over mask and vaccine mandates for preschool programs funded by Head Start. He’s not providing another solution, just lawsuits.

What I find most interesting is in the Parents’ Bill of Rights Rokita says protecting children is his utmost concern. The preamble of his letter to parents starts:

“Thank you for all you do, including raising and protecting our children, who are any society’s greatest and most valuable asset. We cherish our kids and would do anything to keep them safe, happy, and prepared for the future.”

That sounds good until you realize keeping children safe isn’t really the point of the Parents’ Bill of Rights and has never been. The Parents’ Bill of Rights was a smokescreen to stop critical race theory in schools. Again, critical race theory isn’t in schools. What Rokita is really trying to do is quash conversations and lessons in school about racism and the role it’s played in this country. In addition to mentioning CRT, Rokita’s Parents’ Bill of Rights also mentions the 1619 Project and Black Lives Matter.

Rokita finds a way to get in where he fits in. He makes himself relevant by using our children as pawns. The inaccurate lessons our children have been learning is just fine, but as soon as educators try to give accurate information on America’s history of racism, a Parents’ Bill of Rights surfaces. It’s as if only white parents and white children matter to Rokita. But they don’t really matter either. If they did, Rokita wouldn’t deny what’s right there in his face: thousands of Hoosiers dying when they don’t have to and thousands of children receiving an education that misses the mark when it comes to the foundation of America.

Has Rokita gone to any Indiana hospitals to see what doctors, nurses and other hospital staff are up against? Has he talked to Black parents and their children to see how the lessons they learn make them feel inferior? I seriously doubt it. That would require actual effort. Rokita is more interested in what he believes and what he wants. He relishes being contrarian as he believes that makes him principled. No, it just makes you contrary for the sake of being contrary. That’s useful to absolutely no one but yourself.

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