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It is evident that many vaccine refusers matriculated at the University of Fox News. There, on March 15, Professor Tucker Carlson, with his head cocked in Hollywood sincerity, asked his students, “How effective is this coronavirus vaccine?” As most third graders know, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are each about 95% effective, based on clinical trials with tens of thousands of volunteers.

Carlson’s question was designed to create doubt and anger toward people like Dr. Anthony Fauci and President Joe Biden — who have a clue — while casting himself as a knight on a white stallion rushing ever onward to defend his viewers’ wellbeing. Thus, the Fox host undermines the health of registered Republicans, the majority of whom, polls reveal, intend to refuse the vaccine.

But let us leave Carlson’s sideshow and focus on another, the West Virginia Legislature’s Republican supermajority and its list of “accomplishments.” They have given us a new law that permits our children to be taught by people who aren’t teachers. They legalized online charter schools despite the absence of a single in-person charter school in the state and discounting the checkered performance of charter schools in other states. Also brought to us by these lawmakers, not all of whom are thoughtful enough to wear a mask during a pandemic, is a bill that gives them, rather than educators, the final say on educational policies.

As if they have forgotten the disaster of 2014 that left 300,000 of us for weeks without drinkable water, our Statehouse Einsteins wish to roll back safety requirements for above-ground tanks that hold oil and gas waste. And, with their health-be-damned mojo whirring on puree, another bill would shield businesses and health care facilities from COVID-19 related lawsuits.

Worker bashing is again high on the GOP legislators’ list. One such bill makes it easier for a business to classify a worker as an independent contractor rather than as an employee, thus enabling the business to deny fringe benefits.

Another effort would give the state superintendent of schools the authority to overturn an administrative law judge’s finding that a school employee’s rights have been violated. A union-buster bill is aimed at stopping paycheck withholding of union dues. Yet another new anti-worker law would bar cities and counties from raising the minimum wage.

Our motorcycle helmet law is a no-brainer, so naturally we have a brain-dead effort to repeal it. In contrast to claims of supporters of the repeal, no one from another state is barred from riding in West Virginia due to the helmet requirement. All such visitors have to do is wear one.

All of these are Republican supermajority efforts. But their worst is a push to make it illegal for a town, county or the state to remove a statue, or rename a school or other building, that presently honors a traitor who took up arms against Old Glory. The bill is racist to its core, despite the denials of its supporters.

Related to their veneration of racists, many among the GOP support Gov. Jim Justice’s disastrous proposal to do away with the state’s personal income tax. Their philosophy is that doing so will bring scads of outsiders to West Virginia. If other legislation is any indication, our Republican legislators seem to be expecting a very specific type of newcomer.

Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist and emeritus professor at Marshall University. He may be contacted at

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