Celebrities trash West Virginia as illiterate, but California and New York actually are worse
"West Virginia whites would rather kill benefits that benefit themselves if those benefits also happen to benefit black people. White supremacy is a powerful drug," a Democratic strategist tweeted.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
West Virginians were trashed on Twitter by celebrities after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) announced he would vote against President Joe Biden's Build Back Better Act.
Many of the insults focused on calling West Virginians "uneducated," but statistics show residents of the Mountain State are far more literate than those in states such as California and New York.
Actress Bette Midler posted Monday on Twitter: "What #JoeManchin, who represents a population smaller than Brooklyn, has done to the rest of America, who wants to move forward, not backward, like his state, is horrible. He sold us out. He wants us all to be just like his state, West Virginia. Poor, illiterate and strung out."
West Virginia ranks 35th in U.S. literacy rates at 86.6% according to World Population Review. This is above the national literacy average of 79% per the Department of Education. The worst state for literacy rates is California, with a rate of 76.9%, meaning that more than one in five residents lack basic literacy skills. Following California's low literacy rates are New York (77.9%), Florida (80.3%), Texas (81.0%) and New Jersey (83.1%).
However, one possible explanation for the low literacy rates in these high-population states is that a significant portion of the population is foreign-born.
West Virginia is home to the smallest number of foreign-born residents at 1.6% of the population, compared to 26.7% of the population in California.
Democrats believe that Build Back Better would benefit Americans by lifting them out of poverty and boosting education. Manchin said he would vote "no" on the bill because it would increase inflation and the federal deficit, and the act's climate provisions would harm the economy.
Reporting on Midler's insult, the radically leftist group Occupy Democrats tweeted, "NEW: Actress Bette Midler blasts Joe Manchin, calling him a “sell-out” who wants to turn the rest of the country into West Virginia, which is mostly “poor and illiterate” thanks to Manchin and its other Republican leaders. RT TO THANK BETTE MIDLER FOR TELLING IT LIKE IT IS!"
Other celebrities joined Midler in insulting the residents of Manchin's state.
"West Virginia whites would rather kill benefits that benefit themselves if those benefits also happen to benefit black people. White supremacy is a powerful drug. 21st century American politics in a nutshell," democratic strategist Greg Pinelo tweeted.
"Why do u keep electing a con who uses his power to make himself rich & keep u poor, sick & uneducated? Ur lack of self preservation has now punished us," actress Nancy Lee Grahn wrote, ironically insulting West Virginians' education in a difficult-to-understand tweet.
"Anybody ever wonder: how can West Virginia and Kentucky have such powerful United States Senators repping them yet be so overwhelmingly poor? Somebody’s getting that money, and it ain’t ordinary West Virginians and Kentuckians… just a thought…" MSNBC's Joy-Ann Reid said.
"It's good to be a rich, white millionaire who made his money in coal and owns a house yacht and a Maserati in poor West Virginia," Wajahat Ali, a Daily Beast columnist, wrote.
Writer Kelly Scalita responded to Midler's tweet, "West Virginia is 49th in Education. It has the 4th highest poverty rate. It is first in drug addicts per capita. They need help. I think this is the is point. Joe Manchin voted against helping them."
Despite being fired from USA Today over her tweets in 2019, never-Trumper Cheri Jacobus piled insults on West Virginians.
"WV is messed up nd Manchin wants to keep it that way. Drugged, poor, uneducated and sick," she wrote, adding, "The only one disrespecting West Virginians is @Sen_JoeManchin. He knows he can get away with it. Like Trump, he likes them poorly educated, poor, drug addicted, and sick. They are easier to control, fool, and manipulate that way."
Even former West Virginia State Senator Richard N. Ojeda, II joined. "How does Joe Manchin explain his Maserati and yacht to the poor people of West Virginia???? I would love to hear that conversation Joe!" he wrote.
Midler, however, later apologized for her insult and turned her wrath toward Manchin who she called a criminal. "I apologize to the good people of WVA for my last outburst. I’m just seeing red; #JoeManchin and his whole family are a criminal enterprise. Is he really the best WV has to offer its own citizens? Surely there’s someone there who has the state’s interests at heart, not his own!" she tweeted.
Former President Donald Trump on Thursday chided Midler. "Wacko Bette Midler said horrible things about the great people of West Virginia and Joe Manchin, but when I say much less offensive things about her, everybody goes wild. Don’t worry, I’ll tell the real facts about her in my book. I love you, West Virginia!" he stated.
West Virginia Senator Shelly Moore Capito (R), applauded her state in response to the insults. "LOTS of WV talk today. Reminder: our communities are strong, our people are compassionate, and our families are devoted. Our beauty has inspired songs, our kindness has been felt across generations. Our people make the U.S. better and we're proud to call West Virginia home."