Migrant Crisis and Wuhan Flu?

 

Last week, my husband and I attended a family party in New York. Joking about “social distance,” family members did refrain from hugging as enthusiastically as we might ordinarily have done, and the cousin who had just returned from Milan was mock-shunned and chided for not informing us of his travels before he had intruded into the new, six-foot diameter personal space bubble we’d been told we should maintain around ourselves.

My husband and I got home from New York just as the cancellation cascade commenced and things began to look less ha-ha and more serious. Family e-mails have been arriving daily, offering health updates; one family member has a slight fever, everyone else seems okay, wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. Had we known then (that is, two weeks ago) what we know now, the party might have been canceled altogether. Certainly, my Milan-visiting cousin would’ve been politely un-invited, or offered the option of virtual attendance via Skype. After all, the focus of the party was my aunt’s 85th birthday. She’s hale and hearty, but … she’s 85.

In other words, my fairly well-fed and generally healthy American family has responded to the Wuhan pandemic by (admittedly retroactively and imaginatively) agreeing to exclude a beloved family member from our midst.

This makes me wonder how the pandemic is going to affect European and American attitudes toward immigrants.

After all, whatever fantasies Joe Biden and Ayanna Pressley offer us, xenophobia is the age-old response to a novel virus for a reason: human beings are what moves a human-threatening virus from one place to another. If my cousin had indeed picked up a little Wuhan in Milan, separating him from my aunt (mask, wall, a dozen city-blocks, or a continent) would keep her safe.

And so, with Wuhan, the No-Walls-No-Borders crowd have been presented with one of the entirely predictable problems associated with the untrammeled movement of people around the planet. Along with our charming cultures and vibrant diversity, we humans carry diseases with us wherever we go, including some nasty ones.

For years, I’ve  found myself pointing out the obvious to well-educated but apparently incurably romantic friends that Europeans aren’t storming barbed-wire barricades to enter Turkey en route to Iraq or Sudan,  any more than Americans in search of free education have been setting off for Cuba on makeshift rafts ever since El Jefe took power. The direction of travel is always the same — away from violence, poverty and oppression and toward safety, a decent standard of living, and (relative) freedom. And, I would argue, migrants are moving toward America and Europe and away from countries with less sanitation, less immunization, less-than-adequate public health systems. Therefore,  both refugees and economic migrants are not only more likely to have pre-existing health problems and thus to be a burden on the healthcare systems of the country that offers them refuge, but are also relatively likely to be carriers of illnesses both old (typhoid, whooping cough, measles, bubonic plague, tuberculosis) and new (woo-hoo Wuhan!)

Iran, to name one example, is overwhelmed with Wuhan; their people are dying in sufficient numbers as to be interred in mass graves. Because Iran is a horrible place to live, Iranians have been among the refugees swarming toward Europe’s border.

How quickly would the virus spread from one infected migrant to the rest in circumstances like those pictured below?

So what effect will this pandemic have on European and American views of immigration? How quickly will fear of contagion curdle the milk of human kindness in European veins, or harden the hearts of those American sanctuary city-dwellers? When immigration doesn’t pose an abstract existential threat to Europeans but a very concrete one, will the old blandishments of Mutti Merkel and Co. (“We can do this!”) come to be seen as a betrayal? Will genuine xenophobes ride the Wuhan express to power? What do you think, dear Ricochetti?

Published in Healthcare, Immigration
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  1. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    When the crisis is past, the open-borders crowd will go back to demonizing the xenophobes as if it never happened.  And the majority of the media will participate.  I don’t see true xenophobes winning elections anytime soon.

    I do foresee continued progress building the southern wall and enforcing employment rules.

    • #1
  2. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Add in the problem of our own homegrown homeless population that has the potential of increasing the spread of the virus. One homeless person I arrested had TB. The city paid for my TB test. The nurse told me let’s hope it isn’t a resistant strain. The perfect end to a shift.

    • #2
  3. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    When the crisis is past, the open-borders crowd will go back to demonizing the xenophobes as if it never happened. And the majority of the media will participate. I don’t see true xenophobes winning elections anytime soon.

    I do foresee continued progress building the southern wall and enforcing employment rules.

    I hope so, Phil! Since that would assume the crisis will pass fairly quickly, with relatively little loss of life? 

    • #3
  4. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    People forget that the Statue of Liberty was a giant stop sign. 

    • #4
  5. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    I’m always uncomfortable with the term “xenophobia” in certain situations because of its pejorative nature and its random use by the left where inappropriate.

    Nations should, I suppose, be welcoming to the less privileged provided there is a plan and considerable thought about the why’s and wherefore’s.  And there are religious principles that inform us in this regard as well.  Buuuut I do not think any nation should be under an obligation to admit people in numbers and under inappropriate circumstance (e.g., disease) so as to guarantee that the nation will be weaker for it.  To do so is to disregard that nation’s obligations to its own citizens.  I would reject any view that what I’ve just described amounts to “xenophobia.”

    • #5
  6. Vectorman Member
    Vectorman
    @Vectorman

    MarciN (View Comment):

    People forget that the Statue of Liberty was a giant stop sign.

    And Ellis Island was close by to keep the sick isolated:

    • #6
  7. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    It’s my understanding that thousands of Chinese workers from the Wuhan area are in the area in Italy where the initial outbreak happened. Apparently they work in the leather goods industry.

    • #7
  8. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    MarciN (View Comment):

    People forget that the Statue of Liberty was a giant stop sign.

    Yes many immigrants were turned back at Ellis island for health reasons.

    • #8
  9. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    People forget that the Statue of Liberty was a giant stop sign.

    And Ellis Island was close by to keep the sick isolated:

    Exactly my point.

    It has only been a matter of time before something like this happened. With all of our present knowledge, it is hard to fathom how we have become so complacent about world travel. Our ancestors seem to have knowledge and common sense that we don’t have.

    That will have to be the eventual outcome of this pandemic, I think. There will need to be some type of UV scanners we all go through to kill whatever bugs are traveling on us and with us, and we will need to introduce some biological checks with temperature scanners in the TSA and customs offices of the airports.

    All transportation hubs will have to implement these controls. Ebola is still on the loose, being held in check by the Nigerian government. There are many infectious diseases out there in world.

    • #9
  10. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    It’s my understanding that thousands of Chinese workers from the Wuhan area are in the area in Italy where the initial outbreak happened. Apparently they work in the leather goods industry.

    They are there to steal Italian styles and methods. Baffled as to why the industry permitted that.

    • #10
  11. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Good questions, GrannyDude.

    I want to point out how often, in your post, you automatically use the language of the open borders side.  I don’t mean to be critical of you.  I think that the Left is extremely effective in framing the debate and pressuring people to use their terminology.  Once you yield to their terminology, you have lost the debate.

    Here are some of the terms that you used relating to a pro-immigration position:

    • “charming cultures”
    • “vibrant diversity”
    • “the country that offers them a refuge”

    Here are some of the terms that you used relating to an anti-immigration position:

    • “xenophobia is the age-old response”
    • “curdle the milk of human kindness”
    • “genuine xenophobes”

    I realize that you use some contrary language on occasion, as well (e.g. “untrammeled movement of people around the planet”).

    But the general trend is that immigration skeptics are painted as cruel xenophobes, while the “No-Walls-No-Borders crowd” are portrayed as wonderful and loving, though perhaps a bit naive.

    My main suggestion is to (almost) never use the Leftists’ language of vilification, except to criticize it as unthinking and unfair.  Thus, never use xenophobic or similar terms (homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic).  Let’s just discuss issues calmly and rationally, without using terms that have become slanderous.

    • #11
  12. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    It won’t turn expressly anti-migrant unless the migrants look like a source or a contagion accelerator.
    This is a weird bug. Elite world travelers and higher-ups seem disproportionate affected. One usually expects pandemics to hurt the poor more than the rest.

    • #12
  13. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    This pandemic has the potential to be a case study for Americans in why borders exist, why they have to be enforced, why it is reasonable for a country to require identity checks and health inspections for incoming would-be citizens, and to extrude non-citizens. 

    Panic is already leading ordinary citizens, worldwide, to deprive their neighbors of basics like toilet paper and soap by frantically buying up all the stock on the shelves. How likely are they (that is, we) to be as considerate toward immigrants as we might be called upon to be? 

    Think of all the new social rules we are now being asked to follow: how many of these depend on certain levels of individual awareness, education, functionality and public spirit?

    The homeless—our own, home-grown vector group—present a major problem, but at least they’re relatively visible. 

    If there are neighborhoods in Malmo that even ambulances can’t go without a police escort, how confident should we be that either voluntary or involuntary public health measures will be followed—or even understood—by their inhabitants? Will  Imams  be encouraging their parishioners to cooperate fully and openly with their Unbeliever hosts and, for example, discontinue gatherings for Friday prayers? How likely are Muslim activists to demand—on grounds of anti-racism, of course—that family reunification travel be excluded from any bans that might be imposed? 

    Not to mention the fact that Sweden, Britain and other European countries have already demonstrated how the lack of   robust protections for freedom of speech and thought endangers not just cultural and political health, but physical well-being. (Just ask the girls in Rotherham, or their lone champion, Tommy Robinson).

    Political correctness, and the fear of giving offense to protected groups exists in the U.S. but it can still be ridiculed. Ayanna Pressley might conjure a twitter mob to punish us for connecting the Wuhan virus with…Wuhan…. but at least she can’t actually send the cops to investigate our Facebook posts.  PC could prove (again) disastrous in countries where there is no First Amendment right to name, report and loudly object.   

    • #13
  14. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    It’s my understanding that thousands of Chinese workers from the Wuhan area are in the area in Italy where the initial outbreak happened. Apparently they work in the leather goods industry.

    They are there to steal Italian styles and methods. Baffled as to why the industry permitted that.

    I’m guessing the Chinese made older Italian businessmen offers that they couldn’t refuse on their companies.  Interesting that at some point the Chinese must have decided that buying the originals on site was a better plan than knocking off tons of copies at home. 

     

    • #14
  15. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Good questions, GrannyDude.

    I want to point out how often, in your post, you automatically use the language of the open borders side. I don’t mean to be critical of you. I think that the Left is extremely effective in framing the debate and pressuring people to use their terminology. Once you yield to their terminology, you have lost the debate.

    Here are some of the terms that you used relating to a pro-immigration position:

    • “charming cultures”
    • “vibrant diversity”
    • “the country that offers them a refuge”

    Here are some of the terms that you used relating to an anti-immigration position:

    • “xenophobia is the age-old response”
    • “curdle the milk of human kindness”
    • “genuine xenophobes”

    I realize that you use some contrary language on occasion, as well (e.g. “untrammeled movement of people around the planet”).

    But the general trend is that immigration skeptics are painted as cruel xenophobes, while the “No-Walls-No-Borders crowd” are portrayed as wonderful and loving, though perhaps a bit naive.

    My main suggestion is to (almost) never use the Leftists’ language of vilification, except to criticize it as unthinking and unfair. Thus, never use xenophobic or similar terms (homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic). Let’s just discuss issues calmly and rationally, without using terms that have become slanderous.

    I was being…ironic…when referring to charming cultures and vibrant diversity, also milk of human kindness, etc.! Possibly should’ve put everything in scare quotes? 

     

    • #15
  16. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    It’s my understanding that thousands of Chinese workers from the Wuhan area are in the area in Italy where the initial outbreak happened. Apparently they work in the leather goods industry.

    They are there to steal Italian styles and methods. Baffled as to why the industry permitted that.

    Two-year-old article in The New Yorker explains very well.

    • #16
  17. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    It’s my understanding that thousands of Chinese workers from the Wuhan area are in the area in Italy where the initial outbreak happened. Apparently they work in the leather goods industry.

    They are there to steal Italian styles and methods. Baffled as to why the industry permitted that.

    I’m guessing the Chinese made older Italian businessmen offers that they couldn’t refuse on their companies. Interesting that at some point the Chinese must have decided that buying the originals on site was a better plan than knocking off tons of copies at home.

     

    I was in Florence last fall (back in the days when people traveled on what were called “cruise ships”) and the variety and quality of leather goods there is truly impressive. Even if the Chinese could copy the designs, there is still the label value of being from Italy.

    • #17
  18. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    GrannyDude (View Comment):
    The homeless—our own, home-grown vector group—present a major problem, but at least they’re relatively visible.

    Logic tells me that is true, but somewhere in my head, I’m wondering if it’s not as true as it might seem to be. The homeless people I’ve encountered wrote the book on social distance. It is their social world that is nonexistent.

    Poverty, poor health, and pathogens in an unclean environment aside, it is a little tiny bit possible that this virus won’t decimate the homeless population as it would seem it surely would. The homeless shelter residents would be hit hard, but perhaps not the pup tent dwellers.

    • #18
  19. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    MarciN (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):
    The homeless—our own, home-grown vector group—present a major problem, but at least they’re relatively visible.

    Logic tells me that is true, but somewhere in my head, I’m wondering if it’s not as true as it might seem to be. The homeless people I’ve encountered wrote the book on social distance. It is their social world that has crumbled.

    Poverty, poor health, and pathogens in an unclean environment aside, it is a little tiny bit possible that this virus won’t decimate the homeless population as it would seem it surely would. The homeless shelter residents would be hit hard, but perhaps not the pup tent dwellers.

    I suppose one would have to ask what homeless people do die of? Are they disproportionately prone to getting pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema or COPD in the usual way of things? 

    • #19
  20. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):
    The homeless—our own, home-grown vector group—present a major problem, but at least they’re relatively visible.

    Logic tells me that is true, but somewhere in my head, I’m wondering if it’s not as true as it might seem to be. The homeless people I’ve encountered wrote the book on social distance. It is their social world that has crumbled.

    Poverty, poor health, and pathogens in an unclean environment aside, it is a little tiny bit possible that this virus won’t decimate the homeless population as it would seem it surely would. The homeless shelter residents would be hit hard, but perhaps not the pup tent dwellers.

    I suppose one would have to ask what homeless people do die of? Are they disproportionately prone to getting pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema or COPD in the usual way of things?

    On the Cape, it’s something called “exposure.” I’m not sure what that term means in terms of human health. But you’re right, they probably do have more upper respiratory conditions than the general population. That’s a good point. Sigh. 

    • #20
  21. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    @MarciN: apparently, the main cause of death among the homeless is overdose, with suicide and HIV close behind. But human health is not well-served by “sleeping rough,” since exposure to the elements can, indeed, be fatal. ( Think hypothermia). All the usual things—cancer, heart disease—are prevalent and,  as a tender-hearted research-paper pointed out, mental illness and addiction present their own obstacles to getting good care, meaning that it can be really hard for a drug addicted person to get to a doctor and difficult for the doctor to determine what’s wrong.  

     

     

    • #21
  22. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    MarciN: apparently, the main cause of death among the homeless is overdose, with suicide and HIV close behind. But human health is not well-served by “sleeping rough,” since exposure to the elements can, indeed, be fatal. ( Think hypothermia). All the usual things—cancer, heart disease—are prevalent and, as a tender-hearted research-paper pointed out, mental illness and addiction present their own obstacles to getting good care, meaning that it can be really hard for a drug addicted person to get to a doctor and difficult for the doctor to determine what’s wrong.

    All very true.

    • #22
  23. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Good questions, GrannyDude.

    I want to point out how often, in your post, you automatically use the language of the open borders side. I don’t mean to be critical of you. I think that the Left is extremely effective in framing the debate and pressuring people to use their terminology. Once you yield to their terminology, you have lost the debate.

    Here are some of the terms that you used relating to a pro-immigration position:

    • “charming cultures”
    • “vibrant diversity”
    • “the country that offers them a refuge”

    Here are some of the terms that you used relating to an anti-immigration position:

    • “xenophobia is the age-old response”
    • “curdle the milk of human kindness”
    • “genuine xenophobes”

    I realize that you use some contrary language on occasion, as well (e.g. “untrammeled movement of people around the planet”).

    But the general trend is that immigration skeptics are painted as cruel xenophobes, while the “No-Walls-No-Borders crowd” are portrayed as wonderful and loving, though perhaps a bit naive.

    My main suggestion is to (almost) never use the Leftists’ language of vilification, except to criticize it as unthinking and unfair. Thus, never use xenophobic or similar terms (homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic). Let’s just discuss issues calmly and rationally, without using terms that have become slanderous.

    I was being…ironic…when referring to charming cultures and vibrant diversity, also milk of human kindness, etc.! Possibly should’ve put everything in scare quotes?

    I should probably be less sensitive.  With so much of life beginning to resemble a Monty Python skit, I am having a harder time recognizing sarcasm.

    • #23
  24. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Good questions, GrannyDude.

    I want to point out how often, in your post, you automatically use the language of the open borders side. I don’t mean to be critical of you. I think that the Left is extremely effective in framing the debate and pressuring people to use their terminology. Once you yield to their terminology, you have lost the debate.

    Here are some of the terms that you used relating to a pro-immigration position:

    • “charming cultures”
    • “vibrant diversity”
    • “the country that offers them a refuge”

    Here are some of the terms that you used relating to an anti-immigration position:

    • “xenophobia is the age-old response”
    • “curdle the milk of human kindness”
    • “genuine xenophobes”

    I realize that you use some contrary language on occasion, as well (e.g. “untrammeled movement of people around the planet”).

    But the general trend is that immigration skeptics are painted as cruel xenophobes, while the “No-Walls-No-Borders crowd” are portrayed as wonderful and loving, though perhaps a bit naive.

    My main suggestion is to (almost) never use the Leftists’ language of vilification, except to criticize it as unthinking and unfair. Thus, never use xenophobic or similar terms (homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic). Let’s just discuss issues calmly and rationally, without using terms that have become slanderous.

    I was being…ironic…when referring to charming cultures and vibrant diversity, also milk of human kindness, etc.! Possibly should’ve put everything in scare quotes?

    I should probably be less sensitive. With so much of life beginning to resemble a Monty Python skit, I am having a harder time recognizing sarcasm.

    That’s okay—it was worth mentioning!

    • #24
  25. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    GrannyDude (View Comment):
    This pandemic has the potential to be a case study for Americans in why borders exist, why they have to be enforced, why it is reasonable for a country to require identity checks and health inspections for incoming would-be citizens, and to extrude non-citizens.

    I am far less optimistic.  I suspect that you know many more Left-leaning people than I.  My impression is that they are utterly impervious to reason, logic, argument, or evidence.

    However, you may be right.  If I recall correctly, in your case, you were red-pilled by the Black Lives Matter vilification of the cops, aided and abetted by the mainstream media and the Democratic Party.  But this was personal to you.  You knew that your beloved cops were not racist murderers, media slander notwithstanding.

    • #25
  26. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    GrannyDude: Will genuine xenophobes ride the Wuhan express to power?

    They will certainly try. 

    There’s a human tribal instinct to personalise dangers like this – if we get rid of these other people then we won’t get sick, it’s these people’s fault that we’re getting sick – this happened with the SARS virus (blame the Chinese), and with HIV (blame gay men, Haitians) and so on back to the Bubonic Plague in Europe (blame the Jews).

    We are, of course, more than this instinct – it may prevail, but not necessarily.  Hence: try.

    • #26
  27. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    We’ve ceded the language and the narrative to the Left, as if “xenophobia” and “racism” are “in America’s DNA,” when just the opposite is true. Almost everyone here is from families that started elsewhere, and many of us hold onto our cultural heritage no matter our skin color. Regulated immigration isn’t anti-immigrant — it’s prioritizing the citizens‘ welfare over the non-citizens’. This is the obligation of any government that has a contractual agreement with its people — in our case, the Constitution. 

    My concern isn’t the rise of xenophobia. It’s that we will, once again, fail to learn the lessons of globalization. We were never going to liberalize China by accepting it into the WTO and trading with it. We were never going to liberalize the Muslim nations of the Mideast by making war in their lands to “liberate” them from tyrants (although, we did that temporarily). Making nice with the Iranians was never going to make the world a safer place from Islamist terror. These are globalist conceits.

    People have diverse ideas about what is the good life. When they band together and form a government, sometimes of, by, and for the people, we call it a “nation.” Nationalism is only as good or as bad as the ideas that undergird it. For us, nationalism is the answer to toxic globalism, because we hold the best ideas about individual liberty, free speech, free enterprise, . . . of any nation ever in all of human history. Anyone who agrees with those ideas can become American — in an orderly and lawful manner. Law and order are American ideals, too.

    • #27
  28. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Good questions, GrannyDude.

    I want to point out how often, in your post, you automatically use the language of the open borders side. I don’t mean to be critical of you. I think that the Left is extremely effective in framing the debate and pressuring people to use their terminology. Once you yield to their terminology, you have lost the debate.

    Here are some of the terms that you used relating to a pro-immigration position:

    • “charming cultures”
    • “vibrant diversity”
    • “the country that offers them a refuge”

    Here are some of the terms that you used relating to an anti-immigration position:

    • “xenophobia is the age-old response”
    • “curdle the milk of human kindness”
    • “genuine xenophobes”

    I realize that you use some contrary language on occasion, as well (e.g. “untrammeled movement of people around the planet”).

    But the general trend is that immigration skeptics are painted as cruel xenophobes, while the “No-Walls-No-Borders crowd” are portrayed as wonderful and loving, though perhaps a bit naive.

    My main suggestion is to (almost) never use the Leftists’ language of vilification, except to criticize it as unthinking and unfair. Thus, never use xenophobic or similar terms (homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic). Let’s just discuss issues calmly and rationally, without using terms that have become slanderous.

    I was being…ironic…when referring to charming cultures and vibrant diversity, also milk of human kindness, etc.! Possibly should’ve put everything in scare quotes?

     

    Scare quotes is such a weird term. It should be sarcastic quotes… meaning using other people’s words ironically.

    • #28
  29. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Stina (View Comment):
    Scare quotes is such a weird term. It should be sarcastic quotes… meaning using other people’s words ironically.

    I prefer “sneer” quotes.

    • #29
  30. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Zafar (View Comment):

    GrannyDude: Will genuine xenophobes ride the Wuhan express to power?

    They will certainly try.

    There’s a human tribal instinct to personalise dangers like this – if we get rid of these other people then we won’t get sick, it’s these people’s fault that we’re getting sick – this happened with the SARS virus (blame the Chinese), and with HIV (blame gay men, Haitians) and so on back to the Bubonic Plague in Europe (blame the Jews).

    We are, of course, more than this instinct – it may prevail, but not necessarily. Hence: try.

    There he is! (Zafar, I was waiting for you to show up!)

    In addition to our generalized, tribal suspicion of actual (or perceived) outsiders, there is a human instinct to seek patterns, in the service of our own survival.

    For example: statistically speaking, I am far more likely to be attacked and killed by a man. My wariness of men is undergirded by millennia of female experience, encoded in song, story, scripture and, for all I know, my DNA.  In the (real) world of best bets and trade-offs, the risks of wantonly overriding my suspicion of men remain greater than the risks associated with a certain paranoia.

    We “personalize” diseases because diseases dangerous to persons are overwhelmingly likely to be carried by persons. That’s just how the cookie crumbles. A wall or enforced policy that keeps out people is, by definition, a wall that keeps out human-life-threatening germs.   

    I am quite sure that the American Indians who died en masse from post-contact European diseases would’ve preferred to have a wall or at least a border checkpoint between them and the icky, germy white folk, and not because they had an irrational fear of the pale. When presented with a  foreign disease—that is, one not already endemic to ones own domain—-it isn’t irrational to conclude that foreigners are more likely to carry it, and —if time and resources are short, as they generally are— to exclude foreigners as a group, at least until you’ve got a more precise way to assess risk.  What other choice does one have?  It was a little crowd of Wuhan-ites, visiting Northern Italy, who appear to have served as a collective Patient Zero for the arrival of the virus and the deaths of hundreds of people. 

     As for HIV—the reality is that this particular virus found the globalized gay male culture an especially salubrious sea in which to swim. As the late (gay)  journalist and author Randy Schilts wrote, in And The Band Played On, gay male doctors who treated promiscuous gay males in San Francisco and New York in the early eighties were deeply concerned about the possibility that a really bad microorganism might find its way into an environment in which lots and lots of human beings were exchanging bodily fluids, wantonly and randomly. Their (and Shilts’) concern wasn’t bigotry or ‘phobia: It was that brutal, simple and inescapable science that human beings, for all our cleverness,  really do seem to find difficult to grasp, somehow. 

     

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