Saturday, March 21, 2020

America and the Covid-19 Coronavirus

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes not. People act like they can't simultaneously hold two true ideas in their head. 

This latest coronavirus apparently began in China thanks in part to the Chinese habit of housing, slaughtering and consuming exotic wildlife in unsafe and unhygienic conditions. 

The virus spread quickly across the world because that's what happens on a planet with mass travel and far flung supply chains. What impacts one group soon impacts everyone.

It's not "racist" to say that the virus began in China. It is racist to make the logical jump that therefore Chinese are "less than". 

China needs to (literally) clean up its act. Some Chinese state officials, citizens, or US citizens with that ancestry really don't like hearing that. I understand. But everybody plays the fool sometimes. 

If West Africans and Central Africans could be questioned about the links between Ebola and consumption of bush meat, if New Guineans could be criticized over the links between Kuru and cannibalism, if Europeans and European-Americans can be mocked over the links between dog kissing/licks and Sepsis, then certainly Chinese can take some much deserved critique over some of their food consumption and food safety habits. If no one got upset about diseases such as West Nile, Zika, or Ebola being named after the regions where they started why should anyone be boo-hooing over Covid-19 being associated with China?

We can't let the Chinese government rewrite history by claiming that the virus started in America or that China bought the rest of the world time so therefore China is the real hero here. It simply didn't work that way

From what we know, China bears primary responsibility for the start of the virus and its spread.
The evidence of China’s deliberate cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan is a matter of public record. In suppressing information about the virus, doing little to contain it, and allowing it to spread unchecked in the crucial early days and weeks, the regime imperiled not only its own country and its own citizens but also the more than 100 nations now facing their own potentially devastating outbreaks. 
More perniciously, the Chinese government censored and detained those brave doctors and whistleblowers who attempted to sound the alarm and warn their fellow citizens when they understood the gravity of what was to come. Yet in de-emphasizing where the epidemic began (something China has been aggressively pushing for), we run the risk of obscuring Beijing’s role in letting the disease spread beyond its borders.
As the below video from Vox shows, there are reasons that some particularly nasty diseases keep starting in China. Ignoring this doesn't help anyone. 

Now, having said that it's more relevant to US citizens that the United States as led by President Donald Trump, has so far not handled this outbreak well.

People like Trump and his malicious merry band of Republicans who always see the Federal government as the enemy and therefore do things like close helpful offices or cut funding for critical projects are uniquely ill suited to lead during this crisis. 

That becomes more obvious each day. Trump's primary interest in this pandemic is how much it may damage his chances at re-election. Trump wants to blame events on Obama or those "dirty foreigners" and wash his hands of responsibility. The virus started in China but its effect on the US is made far worse by having Trump in office. Saying that it's a Chinese virus doesn't do anything to make Americans safe today. It might in the future. But now we need to slow/stop transmission in the US and find a way out of an economic slowdown.
"An examination of how the Trump administration responded to the coronavirus outbreak that was first documented in December reveals a story of missed opportunities, mismanagement and a president who resisted the advice of experts urging a more aggressive response. All the while, Trump made a series of upbeat claims, some of which were flatly false, including that the number of cases was declining in the U.S. and that “anybody who needs a test gets a test."
I think that this pandemic should force a re-evaluation of some assumptions across the American political spectrum. It was a horrible idea to move so much of our manufacturing base to an authoritarian Communist dictatorship run by thin skinned kleptocrats. Not every culture puts the same value on food safety and regulation. 

When things go wrong, you need elected representatives whose first instinct is to act for the common good, not instead to use the government to transfer monies to corporations and the wealthy or use non-public information to enrich themselves while neglecting to inform the public of the danger. Bailouts should be for the working man and woman, not for airlines, banks and the financial sectors. And so on. It was a bad idea to elect a President whose first, last, and only instinct when problems occur is to say "I don't take responsibility at all."

Unfortunately people's attitudes on these issues often can be initially immune to evidence. But time will tell. Working from home, having your hours cut, being quarantined, getting fired, or losing a loved one can focus your attention.
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