Much Ado About Neanderthals

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Joe — Accept my Unity, or Else! — Biden mocked the governors of Texas and Mississippi for lifting their COVID-19 mask mandates as displaying “Neanderthal thinking.” Some Republican senators decided to have fun with the comparison, and leftists fell over themselves mocking them. I’ve decided, dear VIP subscriber, to respond to this brouhaha with a few anecdotes below.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) mocked critical race theory along with Biden’s comment.

“President Biden’s use of an old stereotype is hurtful to modern Europeans, Asians & Americans who inherit about 2% of their genes from Neanderthal ancestors,” Rubio tweeted. “He should apologize for his insensitive comments and seek training on unconscious bias.”

This incisive jab mocked the idea that unconscious and underlying “structural racism” permeates American society and that white people must be trained to recognize their latent racism. Rubio’s mocking tone is obvious, but the quip doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) found herself the butt of many jokes after she decided to turn Biden’s insult into a talking point.

“Neanderthals are hunter-gatherers, they’re protectors of their family, they’re resilient, they’re resourceful, they tend to their own. So I think Joe Biden needs to rethink” the attack, Blackburn said.

Naturally, leftists responded with the obvious point that Neanderthals are extinct.

“I note Neanderthals became extinct,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted. “Also, the virus remains highly contagious and, for some, it is lethal. Please wash your hands frequently, do social distancing and wear a mask in public. Protect your family.”

Others mocked Blackburn for appearing to accept the existence of Neanderthals after she previously said she does not accept the theory of evolution.

“Marsha Blackburn doesn’t believe in evolution. Creationists like her believe the world is less than 10,000 years old. But neanderthals were extinct 40,000 years ago so here she is debunking her own science denial,” leftist influencer Adam Best tweeted.

First of all, Rubio’s joke and Blackburn’s response should not distract Americans from the fact that Biden compared governors who lifted mask mandates to knuckle-dragging cavemen. While I personally support the wearing of masks indoors to slow the spread of COVID-19, I also think America has progressed far enough toward herd immunity that masks should no longer be mandatory. State governments have abused their power far too much during this pandemic, and it’s nice to see some relaxation of the mandates.

It seems Joe Biden cannot stomach the idea of government not taking advantage of a pandemic, even as the virus eases amid vaccine progress. In fact, back in March 2020, Biden supported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) obstruction against a bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill, apparently because Pelosi put forth her own alternative bill jam-packed with pet projects like a slate of liberal election “reforms,” a $15/hour minimum wage, Green New Deal standards forcing airlines to report the carbon emissions for each flight, collective bargaining for unions, and more.

If a refusal to abuse governmental power during a pandemic makes someone a Neanderthal, then what kind of compliant slaves does Joe Biden hope Americans evolve into?

As for evolution, it is simply not true that everyone who rejects the theory is a six-day Young Earth creationist. Many in the Intelligent Design movement question evolution because random mutations usually do not introduce new functions at a rate fast enough to explain the speciation in the fossil record. Furthermore, many Christians who reject the theory of macroevolution — that all life on earth evolved from a common ancestor — nonetheless accept the theory of microevolution — that species change over time, perhaps even creating new species.

To make matters more complicated, many Christians do not take the “days” in Genesis 1 as six 24-hour days, but rather as a metaphor for long stretches of time or as a metaphor for God’s creation not to be taken as a scientific description of earth’s history.

It is possible to believe in an old earth on which neanderthals once lived and also to doubt the theory of macroevolution and the claim that human beings descended from neanderthals.

But again, whatever Marsha Blackburn believes about Neanderthals matters far less than the fact that Joe Biden mocked governors who would loosen their COVID-19 restrictions to knuckle-dragging cavemen. The fact that he did this while covering for teachers unions that are traumatizing kids by keeping them out of school despite mounting evidence that school reopenings are not a vector for COVID-19 spread is particularly heinous.

But, you know, let’s mock Marsha Blackburn. That’s a great use of our time.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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