Joe Biden dubs governors lifting mask mandates as ‘Neanderthal thinking’, Internet calls it 'insult' to cavemen

'The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking,' the president said a day after Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced their plans to allow businesses to reopen at full capacity and lift mask mandates


                            Joe Biden dubs governors lifting mask mandates as ‘Neanderthal thinking’, Internet calls it 'insult' to cavemen
US President Joe Biden speaks as he meets with Senators from both parties in the Oval Office of the White House on February 11, 2021, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

On Wednesday, March 3, a day after Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced their plans to allow businesses to reopen at full capacity and lift mask mandates, President Joe Biden expressed his views, calling the moves a “big mistake.”

“Look, I hope everybody’s realized by now these masks make a difference,” Biden said. “We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms... The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking, that, ‘In the meantime, everything’s fine. Take off your mask. Forget it.’ It still matters.”

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U.S. President Joe Biden makes brief remarks before signing several executive orders directing immigration actions for his administration in the Oval Office at the White House on February 02, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

 

He added that it is “critical, critical, critical” that state officials “follow the science” and encourage Americans to continue to wear masks and follow all public health guidelines. “I know you all know that,” Biden said. “I wish the heck some of our elected officials would.”

Biden’s “Neanderthal” comment causes a stir

On Twitter, Biden’s comments, especially the use of the word “Neanderthal” led to a massive conversation. Neanderthal, often referred to as the “closest ancient human relatives”, existed between about 400,000 to 40,000 years ago across Europe and southwest and central Asia. As per the Natural History Museum, “Despite their reputation as being primitive 'cavemen', Neanderthals were actually very intelligent and accomplished humans.” Rapid and dramatic climate change may have been a major factor that contributed to the Neanderthals' extinction.

On Twitter, there were many who supported the usage of the term. But it also found criticism, especially from the right-wing. Among those who supported it, one Twitter user said, “Biden called anti-mask policies ‘Neanderthal.’ Neanderthals never lived in North America, but they really exemplify what ‘MAGA’ was always about: European-only society and a total rejection of modern learning.” Many people also joked that calling this move "Neanderthal thinking" posed an insult to Neanderthals themselves.



 



 



 



 

His critics, however, were not pleased. “Neanderthals is what President Dementia calls people who don't live in fear,” said one Twitter user. Governor Reeves, after Biden’s remarks, tweeted that “Mississippians don’t need handlers. As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them.”



 



 



 



 

On Monday, before the two governors made their announcements, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned state officials against lifting public health restrictions too quickly. “At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” Walensky said Monday. “With these statistics, I am really worried about more states rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19. Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.”

“The fact that things are headed in the right direction doesn't mean we have succeeded in eradicating the risk," Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor of integrative biology and director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium told ABC News. She also said the recent deadly winter freeze in Texas that left millions of people without power could amplify transmission of the virus in the weeks ahead, although it remains too early to tell. 

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