In the months since COVID-19 vaccines have been available to American adults, many reports have highlighted the hesitancy of some in the Black community to receive their shots due to a history of racial discrimination and unethical treatment in the area of medicine.
President Joe Biden attempted to tap into these concerns in remarks this week, but experts say he botched the details in his description of a notorious decades-long study.
“A great reluctance”
According to Breitbart, the president suggested that the U.S. government conducted immoral medical experiments on hundreds of Black men with syphilis. He referenced the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” which left the unwitting participants untreated for decades to study the long-term effects of the disease.
Some of the men went blind and some died as a result. The experiment was called off in 1972 after details were exposed and it has since been cited as a reason for Black Americans to distrust medical authorities.
In his misrepresentation of the study, however, Biden appeared to claim that the famed Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to the experiments as part of their training to become fighter pilots.
“By the way, many of the older members of that community had memories of experimentation on Black Americans that were not told about, like what happened with the, you know, Tuskegee Airmen and all those tests,” he said.
The study led to “a great reluctance” among the nation’s Black population, the president added.
“They have no way of getting there”
With roughly half of all American adults currently vaccinated, the rate of inoculation is slowing down as “vaccine-hesitant” individuals continue to decline their doses.
Americans opting against vaccination cross all racial and political lines, but some officials are concerned that the rate remains particularly low among minorities.
Biden attempted to address some of those barriers in his recent remarks, asserting: “An awful lot of African Americans, especially older African Americans, may theoretically live within five to seven miles of a drug store but guess what, that might as well be 500 miles from a drug store. They don’t have an automobile. They have no way of getting there.”
Although the president might have gotten some fundamental facts wrong in his remarks, history proves that skepticism of big government is not necessarily a bad thing.