Well, I’ll be damned; the Chinese are now encouraging “cultural appropriation”! After telling whites that they can’t cook “Asian” food or open “Asian” restaurants or wear “Asian” clothes, because everything that comes from Asia belongs to Asians only, the Chinese are now willingly surrendering credit for the COVID-19 virus, even though it came from China as the by-product of specifically Chinese customs.
Sorry, pallies. You want ownership of the pot sticker, you get ownership of COVID.
There are times to avoid pointing fingers, and there are times to point them so vigorously that you put someone’s eye out. So let’s do some pointin’.
COVID-19 is zoonotic, meaning it jumped from animals (in this case, bats) to humans. You’re going to hear a lot of media propagandists claim that “we don’t know the origin of the virus.” That’s pure obfuscation. True, we don’t know how bats originally acquired the virus in the wild. But that’s not the issue; the issue is how the virus jumped to humans (a “zoonotic spillover”). And regarding that “jump,” we know exactly where it happened: at a Wuhan “wet market” where exotic animals are sold for food in the most appallingly unclean conditions. That’s where the “jump” occurred.
Officially, COVID-19 is called SARS-CoV-2. As the name implies, COVID-19 is a relative of another coronavirus, SARS. Remember SARS? It was all the rage in 2003. SARS also did the zoonotic jump to people through the Chinese wet markets. And back in the early 2000s, the media was willing to say so. “SARS was not an isolated outbreak,” reported CNN in 2005. “South China has long been the epicenter of pandemic flus, giving birth to three or four global outbreaks a century.”
South China offers the most exotic fare from all over the globe—by some accounts at least 60 species can be found in any one market—thrusting together microorganisms, animals and humans who normally would never meet. This thriving trade gives the manufacturing hub that straddles the Pearl River Delta the unenviable title of being the “petri dish” of the world.
In an attempt to control the SARS outbreak, the Chinese government tried to stem the trade and consumption of exotic animals. But again and again, the people of China said no. This bears repeating: The Chinese government acknowledged that the SARS “jump” happened because of the wet markets, and those markets were closed…until the Chinese people brought them back.
As Jacques deLisle, director of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China at UPenn, wrote in 2004:
As the SARS crisis came under control, measures to stem the consumption of civets and other wild animals showed signs of eroding once the intense international scrutiny that proponents credited for their adoption began to abate. A hotly debated Guangdong provincial draft law omitted a ban on consumption of wild animals (beyond mere exhortations not to eat them), and a proposed provision prescribing a ban included no penalties. Reports of the reopening of exotic animal markets, the return of wild animals to menus, and amendments to relax regulatory restrictions became commonplace.
At a 2003 Brookings Institution conference on SARS, Newsday’s science correspondent Laurie Garrett observed:
There was a survey done—50% of responders China-wide said that they do occasionally eat exotic animals. So if you have something that is that entrenched in the diet and the cuisine and the tradition and the culture, I don’t think that any regulation is going to make the actual trade in these animals disappear. If anything, it could drive them further underground and make it harder for public health authorities to have any idea what’s going on. So I don’t think that China has come up with an answer on how to stop zoonosis.
Garrett was incorrect. China knew exactly how to “stop zoonosis.” The government simply lacked the will to fight its citizenry on the issue.
In 2003, the CDC’s Daniel DeNoon made the following prediction: “Will SARS come back? Experts agree only on this: It won’t be the last worldwide killer epidemic.” DeNoon quoted the WHO as saying that this future “killer epidemic” is “especially” inevitable because “in China there has been no attempt to segregate exotic animals in the marketplace. These animals have been allowed back into the markets and are still a threat.”
The timeline is important. SARS became a global menace in 2003. The Chinese government attempted to end the wildlife markets that year…and that same year, the markets came back. Literally, the Chinese couldn’t go four months without their filthy, disease-spreading fare. In fact, the return of the wet markets in 2003, while the world was still struggling with SARS, surprised even the China-friendly WHO. As Science magazine reported in August ’03:
The lifting of a 4-month ban on civets and 53 other species of wild animals delighted gourmets in Guangdong Province, where the local cuisine relies on a variety of wild animals. But it came as a surprise to the World Health Organization, which has a team of experts working with its Chinese counterparts investigating a possible animal reservoir of SARS.
As world health officials were trying to curb SARS, the locals were inviting it. “Chinese Diners Shrug Off SARS: Bring On the Civet Cat.” That’s a New York Times headline from December 2003:
It was lunch hour at The First Village of Wild Food, and if anyone in the restaurant was worried that SARS might again be spreading in this city, they were not showing it. Huang Sheng was more worried about which of the small animals in black metal cages would become his midday meal. Asked if he worried about eating wild game in light of SARS, Mr. Huang said he saw no risk. “It’s no big deal. It’s not a problem.” He said Guangdong Province residents had a reputation for eating exotic foods, a taste not even SARS could deter.
Not even SARS could deter. Nor the threat of the next “killer epidemic.” Nor the words of experts like the University of Hong Kong’s Moira Chan‐Yeung, who in November 2003 addressed this message to the people of China: “Abandoning the widespread use of exotic animals as food or traditional medicine and the practice of central slaughtering of livestock and fowl will decrease the chance of viruses jumping from animals to humans.” Around the same time, Nature magazine’s Asia-Pacific correspondent David Cyranoski rhetorically asked, “Why does this region keep throwing up viruses that have the potential to threaten the lives of people around the world?” The answer? “The southern Chinese widespread use of wild species for food and traditional medicine.”
As the Chinese people fought for their right to spread zoonotic diseases, Chinese activists fought to keep the West from noticing. Victor Wong of the Vancouver Association of Chinese Canadians gave a talk in May 2003 in which he downplayed the need to take SARS seriously: “I contrast SARS with the fact that thousands die from influenza every year in Canada. Around the world, millions die from tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS.” He urged an end to “wall-to-wall coverage of Asians wearing masks, patients being wheeled away on stretchers, health officials in moon-suits” because such stories “only serve to fuel more public panic.” He demanded that the media stop running stories with a “negative message” about how “the Chinese eat exotic wild animals.” Finally, he stressed the need to study not the disease but the “trauma” the coverage inflicts upon the Chinese.
In January 2004, SARS reappeared in China. The wildlife market ban was repealed in August 2003, and five months later, the Chinese had ushered in a new round of the disease. As NBC reported in January ’04, even as the ban was reimposed, wild animals were nevertheless “back on the menu” in Chinese eateries. Many in the Western press treated the return of the wildlife markets as a joke. A January 2004 Slate piece by Wired’s Brendan Koerner stated, “Considered a culinary treat in southern China, the animals are believed to carry the virus that causes SARS. What’s a civet cat, what’s the best way to cook one, and what do they taste like?” Yes, Koerner provided recipes for the disease-carrying animal. I’m sure that seemed hilarious at the time.
In a July 2004 piece about the revocation of the January wet-market ban, the L.A. Times wondered “whether the virus for another potential outbreak might be lurking somewhere else in the Chinese diet.” However, the WHO, which had been against the ban’s August 2003 repeal, by July 2004 had “mysteriously” come around to the Chinese way of thinking, supporting the new repeal. The organization’s SARS “team leader” Julie Hall told the Times, “We have to keep an open mind. We may not eat dogs or cats, but we do eat raw oysters. We just shouldn’t pass judgment.”
The World Health Organization’s SARS leader literally said “we shouldn’t pass judgment” on the behavior that causes SARS. That’s like an oncologist refusing to pass judgment on smoking. It’s malpractice soaked in racial whataboutism (“Whites eat crazy things too!”).
By 2007, with the WHO no longer “passing judgment” and with the wet-market ban long gone, Reuters reported that “exotic wildlife and squalor have returned to the Qingping market, making health officials worried that another killer virus could emerge. Traditional wet markets still account for the bulk of fresh food sales in China, where diners hope exotic meats will bring good fortune.” Taiwanese health official Li Jib-heng direly predicted that “a new disease could emerge from close contact with sick wild animals.”
Even some Chinese officials were willing to publicly voice their concerns:
“It seems that some people are determined to start eating civet cats again since no new SARS cases have been reported over the past two years in Guangdong Province. It’s a very dangerous sign,” said Huang Fei, deputy director of the Guangdong Health Department. (‘China Daily,’ 2/14/07)
That same year, Guo-ping Zhao of the Chinese National Human Genome Center in Shanghai unequivocally stated in a paper for the Royal Society that a “ban on wild-game animal markets” would practically guarantee “no further naturally acquired human cases.”
The Chinese knew a ban would work, but they allowed the markets to thrive.
In 2013, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post disclosed that a new Chinese zoonotic pandemic was likely: “Scientists warn of more serious disease threats than SARS.”
A survey that year by Beijing’s Horizon Research Consultancy Group showed that in Guangzhou, 83.3% of residents ate exotic animals.
The Chinese people were living in stubborn, arrogant denial, and the WHO had fallen silent because only racists “pass judgment” on Chinese zoonotic practices.
And now we have COVID-19, which has disrupted the entire world. One-third of the earth’s population is under some sort of lockdown. Livelihoods are ruined, economies destroyed, hundreds of thousands are ill and tens of thousands are dead. And the Chinese government, the Chinese diaspora, the political left, and the media want you to forget how COVID grew from the willful failure of China to learn the lessons of SARS.
So let’s not forget.
Remember that COVID-19, like SARS, began because of specifically Chinese customs, practices, and fetishes.
Remember that during and after the SARS outbreak, the Chinese knew that the wet markets were a danger, yet they were allowed to prosper.
Remember that experts predicted that a bigger, badder SARS would eventually be born from the wet markets. COVID-19 is the most predictable calamity in modern history.
And remember that a ban on Chinese wet markets would have prevented COVID-19. This was the most preventable calamity in modern history.
If we allow anything—fear of “racism,” hatred of Trump, lucrative Chinese business dealings—to get in the way of halting those wet markets for good this time, it’s a certainty that eventually we’ll see an even worse pandemic. There can be no soft feelings here, no sensitivity, no diplomacy. The Chinese must be cajoled, shamed, ridiculed, banned, and threatened until they stop risking the lives of every human on earth because they love eating things that shouldn’t be eaten.
The Chinese don’t deserve hugs; they’re lucky that most of us are civilized enough to not take violent revenge for what they’ve wrought. They should count their blessings that they can still walk among us unmolested. But they shouldn’t mistake our civility for forgiveness.
They have the power to shut the sky…and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish. I’m not a religious man, but that line from Revelation seems appropriate. The Chinese have shut the world with their latest plague.
We need to make sure it’s their last.
Would you rather have a rapist or an Alzheimer’s patient as your president?
If Joe Biden gets elected, you may wind up with both, but it’s an important question and a crucial distinction.
Despite all you hear about Donald Trump being a rapist, I’ve never seen a single video clip where he’s pawing and rubbing and sniffing and forcefully embracing one mortified female after the next like you constantly see with Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. His touchy-feely proclivities are all there on video, whereas the germaphobe Trump always keeps a respectful distance.
And either way, Trump did get elected after the “grab ‘em by the pussy” scandal. It’s not as if constantly being called a rapist OR a racist are deal-breakers for the American electorate.
Being able to read body language, it seems clear as a bell to me that Joe Biden thinks black people are subhuman apes and considers women to be the sexual equivalent of wall sockets. He and I grew up in the same part of the Northeast and in the same Irish-Catholic milieu. I’ve seen the type. He’s the sort of guy who will say, “Hey, man, why you gotta get so upset?” while he’s raping and/or lynching you.
And that’s fine, I guess. Free country and all. If he thinks it’s cool to enslave blacks and finger-bang women against their will, I believe that’s covered by the First Amendment until he puts it into action.
Biden’s problem, though—apart from the galloping senility—is that he’s the current standard-bearer for a party that rallies against the very idea of white males and holds blacks and females in such preposterously high regard, Biden will likely choose the snarling, gap-toothed choco-armadillo Stacey Abrams as his running mate.
As a result of this, and despite the fact that he’s Mr. Hands with any woman who comes within coronavirus striking distance of him, in 2018 Biden said that we need to believe women when they accuse men of taking sexual liberties with them:
For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real.
Whether his stance was insincere or merely opportunistic, what is one to make of the fact that, six months before Biden uttered those sanctimonious words, a brown-skinned former Nevada Assemblywoman named Lucy Flores described a 2014 encounter with Biden thusly?
As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. ‘Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?’…I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?’ He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused. There is a Spanish saying, ‘tragame tierra,’ it means, ‘earth, swallow me whole.’ I couldn’t move and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience.
In response to Flores’s comments, last year another woman from Nevada named Tara Reade walked away from her cats and the darkness of obscurity to tell a newspaper that Biden had acted similarly to her in 1993:
He used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck. I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.
Notably—actually, I’m the one noting it because hardly anyone else has—the article says, “Reade said she didn’t consider the acts toward her sexualization.”
Get that? She said he ran his finger up her neck but she didn’t consider his behavior sexual.
But then last week, either starved for justice or attention or both, Reade consented to a podcast interview where she accused Biden of pushing her up against a wall and inserting his bony white fingers inside her lady bits:
I remember the assault itself, and then the aftermath, and the reverberating effects of that….He was, at first, talking to someone, they went away, and then he said ‘Come here,’ and then when I gave him the gym bag….And I remember he–it happened all at once–the gym bag, I don’t know where it went. I handed it to him and it was gone. And then his hands were on me and underneath my clothes. And then he went–he went down my skirt and then up inside it. And he penetrated me with his fingers, whatever. And I–he was kissing me at the same time and he was saying something to me. He said several things and I can’t remember everything he said. I remember a couple of things. I remember his saying, first, like as he was doing it, ‘Do you want to go somewhere else?’ and then him saying to me, when I pulled away, he got finished doing what he was doing and I, how I was pulled back and he said, ‘Come on man, I heard you liked me.’…And he said to me, when he pulled back, he pointed his finger at me, he said, ‘You’re nothing to me. You’re nothing.’ And he straightened his clothes and he went away…. He was this champion of women’s rights in my eyes and I couldn’t believe it was happening. It didn’t seem–it seemed surreal. I just–I knew–I just felt sick.
We feel sick, too—not even so much at the sexual assault, but at the hypocrisy.
But if you’ve spent the merest amount of type studying political behavior, you’d realize that voters don’t care about hypocrisy. They care about vitality.
And if you pore over political behavior like I do for a living, you’d also realize that the elderly are the only group that everyone across the political spectrum feels entitled to openly hate and dehumanize. The reasons they give to justify this hatred are even dumber than the “reasons” people give for believing in astrology, but as Winston Churchill famously noted, most voters are dumber than foot fungus.
This is my conspiracy theory, and I know it won’t be popular, but I implore and beseech ye to give it a fair hearing:
I believe the DNC is pushing the “Joe is a rapist” narrative because it’s better than the “Joe is senile and wears adult diapers” narrative.
Biden is always forgetting where he is and spitting up all over himself. Either his dentures are falling out of his mouth or he’s falling asleep in public or he’s nibbling on his wife’s fingers like a dementia patient or his eyeball is suddenly filling with blood like his body’s falling apart on live television.
In a climate where it’s considered more of a capital offense to be a Baby Boomer than a rapist, this is clearly unacceptable. And Biden is even too old to be a Baby Boomer.
Even if it was only a brief finger-bang nearly three decades ago, it’s something. In the public mind, it restores his virility and depicts him as virile, manly, and studly rather than creaky, decrepit, and impotent. Thinking of Biden endlessly macking on women is much more flattering than thinking of him soiling his adult diapers during a presidential debate.
He may occasionally grab ‘em by the pussy, but at least he won’t press the nuclear button thinking it’s a video game.
Rapey Joe might win the election, whereas Sleepy Joe doesn’t have a chance.
The Week’s Most Arbitrary, Ancillary, and Coronary Headlines
NOTE: Due to the global pandemic, we are officially quarantining coronavirus-related stories on the next page.
HORNED INSECT WITH “STRANGE” GENITALS IS OFFICALLY NAMED AFTER LADY GAGA
Enigmatic pop superstar Lady Gaga seems as if she’s horny and has strange sexual proclivities. Now, joining other femmes fatale such as Beyoncé and Kate Winslet, she enjoys the rare and possibly dubious honor of having an insect named after her.
The Kaikai gaga is an absolutely hideous beastie who was named by the has-to-be-gay entomologist Brendan Morris of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who describes his decision to name a repulsive rare treehopper from Nicaragua after the mysterious and possibly autistic pop performer:
If there is going to be a Lady Gaga bug, it’s going to be a treehopper, because they have these crazy horns and a wacky fashion sense about them. They are unlike anything you’ve seen before. The frontoclypeus, which is like the face, was shaped totally different. The genitalia also looked more like treehoppers from the Caribbean.
When you pause for a moment that this is a guy who studies equatorial insect genitalia, you don’t know who should be more insulted: Lady Gaga or the bug that was just named after her?
IGNORING WHAT HAPPENED THE LAST TIME THEY DID THIS, S.P.L.C TARGETS PRO-FAMILY “HATE GROUP” AGAIN
The Southern Poverty Law Center is an absurdly wealthy hate group that works out its guilt complexes by accusing white people of modest means of being the real hatemongers.
Although they posture themselves as smart and enlightened, the SPLC traffics exclusively in weasel words and false inferences.
Our research — and everyone’s research — will show that this increased rhetoric leads to an increase in hate crimes and hate incidents targeting LGBTQ people. When you denigrate an entire group of people, that’s what happens. It becomes open season.
Shall we unpack this, ladies and germs?
Their research consists of the following Yellow Brick Road of bad faith:
Let’s say Trump cuts funding for unnecessary tranny breast reductions and liposuction or something. Although not a hateful word is spoken, the SPLC wrangles this into something along the lines of “Trump purposely created a powder keg of charged hate rhetoric that both openly and indirectly encourages the mass murder of LGBTQ people.” Then their “research” will consist of asking an “expert” whether this imaginary climate of hate will lead to violence. The expert says, “Yes, of course!”
Or they’ll talk about a grim “epidemic” of tranny-slayings across the country, ignoring the fact that on a per-capita basis, trannies get murdered at a rate lower than that for straight men.
In short, there is nothing academic or logical or peer-reviewed or quantifiable about anything the SPLC ever pontificates over, but it doesn’t stop most major American news organizations from slavishly reprinting their press releases unquestioned and unedited.
One of the allegedly “anti-gay” groups the SPLC targeted in a recent report was the Family Research Council, which stands accused of openly encouraging fag-slayings by saying that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
In 2012, a black man who by his own admission was spurred to violence by reading and SPLC report on the Family Research Council, entered the lobby of the FRC’s headquarters in DC and shot a security guard for the crime of enabling hate.
If someone shoots up the FRC again, will the SPLC get away with it again?
THE EGYPTIAN KIDDIE-TORTURE RACKET
In a revelation even more shocking than that time they foolishly allowed women to drive, Egypt has apparently been torturing thousands of minors with impunity.
According to a report released by Human Rights Watch and an Egyptian rights group called Belady, 75% of previously incarcerated minors aged 12-17 reported that they had been tortured in pretrial detention. More than a third said they’d received electric shocks. One out of ten said their shoulders had been dislocated by being hung by their arms. A 12-year-old boy named Abdullah allegedly endured “horrific torture including beatings, electric shocks and waterboarding” while his father watched.
According to spokeswoman Aya Hijazi of Belady, who everyone could agree would look a lot better if she lost 20 pounds:
The harrowing accounts of these children and their families reveal how Egypt’s machinery of repression has subjected children to grave abuses. Egyptian authorities act as though they are above all laws when it comes to children in detention.
How’s that Arab Spring working out for you guys over there, anyway? We’ve been meaning to ask.
FEDS CLAIM “RACIST EXTREMIST GROUPS” ENCOURAGE SPREADING CORONAVIRUS TO COPS AND JEWS
In news that is startlingly evasive even to grizzled, jaded, cynical, seen-it-all nihilists, the FBI recently created a moral panic about a grand plan of bioterrorism among “neo-Nazis and other white supremacists” without even bothering to cite a single quotation from any identifiable member of these groups.
It’s almost shocking how much they expect you not to notice.
“White supremacists encouraging their members to spread coronavirus to cops, Jews, FBI says,” blares the ABC News headline:
In an alert obtained by ABC News, the FBI’s New York office reports that “members of extremist groups are encouraging one another to spread the virus, if contracted, through bodily fluids and personal interactions. The FBI alert, which went out on Thursday, told local police agencies that extremists want their followers to try to use spray bottles to spread bodily fluids to cops on the street.
In an article written by someone called Margolin, ABC quotes a man who runs a Jewish watchdog group, who is quoted as saying:
While the world faces a deadly pandemic, it’s a stark reminder that certain groups – notably the Jewish community and law enforcement – must also continue the battle against those who wish to hurt or kill them. As the economic situation remains fragile and civil society disrupted, the potential for the followers of hate to act becomes more likely … and more deadly.
Despite our rigorous efforts, we could find no recent FBI report on the subject, but we DID find something from the Department of Homeland Security report that contains this shocking allegation:
White Racially Motivated Violent Extremists (WRMVEs) have recently commented on the coronavirus stating that it is an “OBLIGATION” to spread it should any of them contract the virus.
Really? You’re calling them “WRMVEs” now? OK, where are these self-identified WRMVEs saying this? Just give us one name. Hell, just give us one quote.
But they don’t.
Just remember: It’s racist to call a virus that originated in China a “Chinese virus,” whereas it’s anti-racist to blame white people for plotting to spray Jews with coronavirus even if you don’t have any evidence that this is happening.
RUSSIANS MULL LAW THAT WOULD IMPRISON CORONA-TERRORISTS FOR UP TO SEVEN YEARS
Last Wednesday, the Kremlin announced that it will look over legislation that would criminalize the act of breaking the nation’s new anti-coronavirus quarantine. Merely breaking the quarantine would result in sentences of up to seven years. But purposely infecting someone with the virus could even bring terrorism charges.
Taking an even more hardcore stance, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov says that quarantine violators should be killed.
Whether or not this means that Ramzan Kadyrov is a sadist, in this time of crisis we can at least all join together and agree that he needs a new stylist.
ASIANS SQUINT HARDER AND FOCUS ON ALLEGED ANTI-ASIAN CORONA-FUELED WAVE OF HATE
Without explicitly—or, if you’re Japanese, “expricitry”—claiming that most of the assailants seem to be black, a pair or racist hate groups called Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council and the Chinese for Affirmative Action announced the formation of an online snitch service whereby Asians can snitch on people they claim are attacking or demeaning them about the coronavirus pandemic.
Experts—there’s that word again—insist that merely referring to a virus that originated in China as a “Chinese virus” could lead to an outbreak of violent attacks on Asians.
However, Utah State Representative Kim Coleman—another person in desperate need of a new stylist—is ignoring the plaintive wails of all those diminutive Asians and referring to the virus as not only a Chinese one, but also a communist one:
Let’s be clear: the coronavirus plague facing us comes exclusively as a courtesy of the Chinese Communist Party. No Communist China, no crisis.
If only she’d followed that up with “No tickee, no washee,” we wouldn’t have made fun of her hair.
Desperately boring times, but very healthy ones. No parties, no girls, not too much boozing, lots of smoking and reading very late into the night. And nonstop training and sport. What else can one do when locked in with one’s wife and one’s son and with nostalgic thoughts of a time when people gathered in groups? It seems very long ago, but do any of you remember when people gave parties?
Desperate times demand desperate measures and make for desperate columnists. Meditation might be good for philosophers and their ilk, but correspondents need to get out and get the story. The only thing to report nowadays is the sleeping habits of cows (standing up), plow horses (ditto), and Swiss peasants (with one eye open, in case some billionaire foreigner robs them of their hay).
For some strange reason I keep thinking back to my youth and the ’50s, the best decade since the Golden Age of the Athenians in 430 BC. Hemingway was alive and Fitzgerald was making a posthumous comeback. Christopher Fry’s verse plays such as Venus Observed fascinated, not to mention The Lady’s Not for Burning. The London Journal of James Boswell revealed that the biographer was a horny little guy who tried to pick up girls nonstop and bragged about the size of his you-know-what. Budge Patty, Frank Sedgman, Vic Seixas, Jaroslav Drobny, Tony Trabert, and Lew Hoad (twice) won Wimbledon, followed by Ashley Cooper and Neale Fraser, all gents and all really nice guys. (Well, Drobny was a prick, but he was my mentor for a while—then we had girl trouble.)
Unlike the unreadable crap posing as novels today, the ’50s produced Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, William Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun, William Styron’s Lie Down in Darkness, and—hooray—Nikos Kazantzakis’ The Greek Passion.
T.S. Eliot’s verse play The Cocktail Party opened on Broadway, and my parents took me to see South Pacific, The King and I, and Call Me Madam. I was through with school and on my way to university in 1955, playing junior tennis tournaments, dating three great Hollywood beauties—Linda Christian, our very own Joan Collins, and Janet Leigh—and attending the premiere of The Bridge on the River Kwai with Dame Joan in the Big Bagel.
Yep, those were the days—and nights, especially the latter at El Morocco, where the system was hardly first-come-first-serve. The near side of banquets was reserved for “superior” people, the far side, or Siberia, for the rest. I know, I know, this is 2020, and the Extinction Rebellion creeps might not like it, but to hell with them. Graham Greene forewarned us with a small masterpiece about foreign entanglements, The Quiet American, and Vladimir Nabokov preempted Mr. Epstein with Lolita.
The older aristocratic aura in tennis was evaporating, but the game was still mainly played in private clubs with strict rules about behavior on court. The reason I used to love the game was because it was among the hardest to play well. Wooden rackets made it very difficult to spin the ball or hit it as hard as one could yet keep it in the court. Very few mastered it. Technology has now made it possible for anyone, however clumsy or wrong the swing may be, to keep the ball in play. The game went socialist with carbon tools, and now everyone can play.
Athletes back then were mostly amateurs, especially in tennis. Professional sport was football (American and British), basketball, and baseball. Intellectuals have always condescended to athletes, but less so back then because athletes had jobs as teachers, lawyers, and salesmen. My friend Dick Savitt won Wimbledon in 1951 and had to fly back on Sunday night for his very important post on Wall Street. (He’s still with us and only recently gave up playing.) So-called eggheads might condescend all they want, but sport is different from the academic experience. It is finite, like dying—there is the last point, or the clock running out. Dealing with that finality is what it’s all about. Some can take it, others cannot. That’s why I hate professional sport. It never ends, there is another paycheck next week, and on it goes, year after year, and then one becomes a TV pundit.
Athletes underwent an early death during amateur days, usually at around 30. Like ancient Greek heroes they went quietly to their fate—now they retire and become celebrities and have millions of followers on Facebook. During the ’50s, real life began once the athlete had died.
A life of meditation seems to have begun for me thanks to the virus, not that I was ever distracted by women, nightclubs, and booze. They say that one should never look back, but as always they are wrong. I truly enjoy my nostalgic ruminations: the wonderful parties, the elegance, the good manners, the beautiful sailing boats, the beautiful women, and the sporting contests I took part in. My Davis Cup partner, winner of Junior Wimbledon in 1963, rang me last week from Costa Rica. He’s worse than I am about the past. We had the No. 1 doubles team in the world, down two sets to one and a couple of match points in the fifth, and this in the French Championships in 1965. And we blew it. Story of my life.
I have long thought that if it were not for complaint, we should have very little to talk about. Complaint is like crime in the theories of the first real sociologist, Émile Durkheim: It is the glue of society. Without opposition to crime, society would fall apart. Without complaint, most of us would remain silent and have no relations with others at all.
I was on a train the other day from Nîmes in the South of France to Paris. At Lyon, some people got off and others got on. Alas, among the latter was a lady, or at any rate a woman, who was full of complaint, had a loud voice, and was accompanied by a companion, or perhaps I should say a human sounding board. The latter said nothing all the way, and I was reminded of what Mahatma Gandhi said when he was asked whether he thought that he had dressed properly for his audience with the King-Emperor, not having changed his usual mode of dress. “He was wearing enough clothes for both of us,” he said. The complainant on the train talked enough for both of them.
In a way, she was a most remarkable person. She kept the torrent of righteous indignation up without drawing breath; perhaps she was an opera singer by trade, though I doubt it. No, she was a natural. Her most amazing feat, though, was the way she could talk through the sandwiches she brought with her and began to eat.
When I saw her unpacking the sandwiches—they were of the kind that are supposedly freshly made in some central sandwich-making factory, no doubt manned and womanned by illegal immigrants, and that are distributed to every station, train and gasoline, throughout the country without distinction—I thought, “Thank God, they’ll shut her up.” How wrong I was! They did no such thing. She was obviously very practiced, for if I had tried to talk through such sandwiches, I am sure that I would have sprayed the people around me with disgusting little saliva-impregnated pellets of the already moist and tasteless bread. But she managed somehow to eat them and talk at the same time, without the slightest change in timbre or, more remarkable, without making a horrible and disgusting mess.
The subject of her complaint was her recent holiday, followed quickly by her daughter’s boyfriend. Her holiday was terrible, from beginning to end. It was some kind of package holiday to some kind of terrible beach, overlooked by her terrible hotel where the food was terrible and frequented by even more terrible people. It was all terrible, and not at all what she had expected, albeit that it initially seemed like a bargain. She would never repeat the experience or advise anyone else to do so. As for her daughter’s boyfriend, he was as uncommunicative as her daughter, though this was only to be expected, but it in no way excused her daughter, who might at least telephone her more frequently (at this point, her telephone rang; it was her daughter, but she had nothing to say on the most important subject, namely her boyfriend, not even whether or not he was listening).
One might have supposed that these subjects would not have been enough to last a journey of 500 kilometers, albeit in a very fast train, but one would be wrong. I don’t think I have ever spoken for more than two hours without intermission, and am not sure that I could. If you asked me to relate everything I knew in the whole world, I do not think it would last for more than two hours. After a relatively short time, I start to hear myself and feel bored. My voice trails off.
At first I was very angry with this voluble lady. Train journeys, I find, are the best time to read with intense concentration and without interruption. I was reading a rather difficult and, truth to tell, tedious book of philosophy in preparation for a talk (45 minutes, my maximum) I was soon to give, which was going to contain some light metaphysical reasoning. Unfortunately, metaphysics and inane chatter do not make good companions. I soon found that it was like trying to read as you are falling asleep: You have to read the same sentence over and over again to make sense of it.
I tried looking at the woman, staring at her, putting on as hostile and exasperated an expression as I could without actually assaulting her. She was not one to take a hint. I think she screened out everything other than the terrible holiday and the terrible daughter’s terrible boyfriend from her consciousness. I think if the train had crashed, the rescuers would have found her among the twisted rails still complaining about the travel company that had as good (or bad) as swindled her.
My irritation, however, declined. I let go the book of metaphysics and took up the newspaper instead. The war in Syria and the coronavirus epidemic require much less strenuous concentration to read about than metaphysics. In the context, I even found it relaxing. Moreover, my attitude to the voluble lady began to change; I even started to feel some affection for her. As we doctors say, it takes all sorts to make a world. And if she had behaved as everyone else behaved, would she have given me any material for an article?
I understand that not everyone can write, of course; at least I hope not. But the fact is that writing helps one to endure what might otherwise be unendurable. I suppose I should know exactly why, but I don’t, except to say that the knowledge that you are going to write about something unpleasant puts a screen between yourself and your own experience. The only time I was beaten (mildly, I must say) by the police, I did not think “Ouch!” or “The bastards!” but “How am I going to describe this?” Of course, there would come a point at which writing could not compensate for the horrors of an experience, but a woman on a train whose volubility prevents you from reading metaphysics is well this side of that point.
Unable to work and, in some cases, ordered to stay at home because of the coronavirus, many Americans are going out of their minds with boredom. What’s funny about this situation, though, is that it differs only in degree, not in kind, from the ordinary course of life. In other words, vulnerability, boredom, and loneliness are fundamental, existential characteristics, and our current isolation serves only to make this truth more apparent. A close look at coronavirus kookiness—that is, the variety of weird behaviors that the virus has led to—reveals that, at bottom, we have the same problems as before.
For instance, in our self-indulgent culture, people are still worried about getting fat for lack of anything better to do; it’s just that now the problem is more dire. The author Nomadic Matt spoke for many with his tweet: “I’m pretty sure all this social isolation is gonna make me fat. I have lots of food and nothing to do so I keep eating. I think gyms are gonna see a surge in memberships when this is all over.” “I need to stop smoking weed and eating all my survivor snacks,” tweeted Aimee Hall of the MTV show Floribama Shore. These days social media is full of similar statements from countless others.
It is through pleasure, after all, that people seek to divert themselves. And if most of human history was a struggle to meet our basic needs, it is one of the great challenges of modern life to maintain some deep sense of value once we are freed from that perennial struggle. Many people, observation suggests, seek to meet this vital need through pleasure as well. Indeed, it doesn’t seem unfair to say that for some of us, pleasure is not just an agreeable diversion, but the very point of life itself.
How else, at any rate, can we account for the thousands of American college students who, despite all the warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the World Health Organization, were so adamant about not letting the coronavirus thwart their spring break plans?
On March 17, Florida governor Ron DeSantis ordered the closure of all bars and nightclubs in the state for thirty days. This, of course, was bad news for the large flock of partygoers who had turned out for spring break revelries. Yet some remained undaunted.
“If I get corona, I get corona,” Brady Sluder, a young man from Ohio, told Reuters. “At the end of the day, I’m not going to let it stop me from partying.”
Brianna Smith, a 21-year-old from Wisconsin, said, “It’s really messing with my spring break. What is there to do here other than go to the bars or the beach? And they’re closing all of it. I think they’re blowing it way out of proportion. I think it’s doing way too much.”
“I mean, it sucks, but we’re going to make the best of it….,” said 23-year-old Ni Smith. “We’re going to enjoy ourselves. We’re having day parties all day. It’s my birthday, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, turn it up.”
According to Atlantis Walker, 21, of Indiana: “What they’re doing is bad; we need a refund. This virus ain’t that serious. There’s more serious things out there like hunger and poverty—we need to address that.”
How dare reality intrude on the endless party that is life! The nerve of coronavirus! What good is it to be alive if one can’t dance half-naked while drunk on a beach?
Still, lest I be a hypocrite, I should admit that I have wasted plenty of time myself in the foolish pursuit of pleasure, and that I did so in my early 20s especially. I should note, too, that the young in general tend not to take mortality seriously, because not having seen much of death, they live as if it’s unreal, or as if they themselves are never going to die.
And yet, reading the spring breaker’s statements, I thought of the profound passage in the Pensées in which Blaise Pascal expresses astonishment that there are people who pass through life rather thoughtlessly, people who don’t wonder at existence itself, or ask themselves those many important questions: Why I am here? How did I get here? How should I live? What am I living for? Is there an afterlife? And on and on.
One has to wonder whether the spring breakers have given much or any thought to the question of what their lives are worth. If they are so willing to just shrug off the possibility of getting the coronavirus, how much do they value their lives? What does life represent for them, other than a source of intense pleasures? Did they grow up in such a shallow time, and in such shallow circumstances, that they don’t even know how to consider life in a serious existential sense?
In stark contrast to the frivolous spring breakers, there is Daniel Harrell, the editor in chief of Christianity Today. In his March 17 article, “Is the Coronavirus Evil?,” Harrell writes:
[U]nless God’s creation defies every characteristic of biological reality, bacteria and viruses are not bitter fruits of the fall, but among the first fruits of good creation itself. If the science is right, there would be no life as we know it without them. God makes no mistakes, and bacteria and viruses indeed are mirabilis (from the Latin meaning remarkable, or even amazing or wondrous, adjectives frequently used to describe creation) and part of the plan from the start. Death itself is required for organic life to exist. This is true of eternal life too. Christ died for the sake of new life (Rom. 6:9–11). Better to view creation not as something perfect gone awry, but as something begun as very good only not yet finished.
Jesus is the source and fulfillment of all creation—“the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 22:13). His purpose is love (John 3:16), which by design cannot be coerced. Thus, God factors free will into the system for the sake of genuine relationship. Allowing freedom to love means freedom to reject love. Ergo the rub. In order to have real relationships with people, God permits the possibility of no relationship. Extrapolate this logic to nature (from whence humans are made) and you might deduce, theologically speaking, that nature has been endowed with a similar freedom. The sea that inspires can also flood. The ground that stands firm can also quake and give way. The microscopic organism that serves life can threaten to take it away.
While the spring breakers seem to take nothing seriously (except for partying), Harrell is very serious indeed. Granting that death is essential to life, for many of us, myself included, it’s still deeply implausible to hold that potentially deadly bacteria and viruses are necessarily good things, indeed “among the first fruits of good creation itself.” Many people won’t be persuaded, either, by Harrell’s talk about “freedom in nature.” The formidable problem for Harrell is this: How would he distinguish between the divine plan he sees in nature and God’s nonexistence or indifference to human suffering?
Suppose we accept Harrell’s views that “God makes no mistakes,” and that everything, including bacteria and viruses, is “part of the plan from the start.” Now let’s consider the following passage from Arthur Schopenhauer’s book The World as Will and Representation:
Yunghahn relates that he saw in Java a plain far as the eye could reach entirely covered with skeletons, and took it for a battlefield; they were, however, merely the skeletons of large turtles, five feet long and three feet broad, and the same height, which come this way out of the sea in order to lay their eggs, and are then attacked by wild dogs (Canis rutilans), who with their united strength lay them on their backs, strip off their lower armour, that is, the small shell of the stomach, and so devour them alive. But often then a tiger pounces upon the dogs. Now all this misery repeats itself thousands and thousands of times, year out, year in. For this, then, these turtles are born.
I give this passage because I think it’s a more powerful example of the problem I have already described. Again, this is what the natural world is like, so how would Harrell distinguish between some “divine plan” in such phenomena and God’s nonexistence or indifference to human and animal life?
Moreover, in view of the phenomena, which state of affairs seems most likely? Is it really plausible to think that the nature of this world, and of animal life on it, is compatible with an all-powerful, benevolent God? Is such casual, incessant suffering the best He could do?
Please note that the creation-fall—a myth that is found around the world and by no means specific to Christianity—tells us nothing as to why nonhuman life should be so shot through with pain and suffering as a matter of course.
If you think that the purpose of things like the coronavirus is to enable man to do his part and “finish” creation—by devising vaccines, among other things—then, once again, we need some justificatory criteria. That is, how do you know what is within our human ability to “finish”? After all, we aren’t omnipotent.
And in those many instances of human suffering in which man does not or cannot “finish” the plan, shall we just shrug our shoulders and declare, “Why, yes, this misery, too, is God’s will!”? It is hard, anyway, to escape the conclusion that by “finish,” what Harrell really has in mind is “correct what God got wrong to begin with.”
Finally, one should be clear that just because you find Christianity, or religion in general, implausible, you need not commit to some facile materialism or scientism. Although many scientists are quick to condescend to believers like Harrell, they ironically evince a dogmatic faith of their own in “theories” that explain little, or that raise myriad questions about whose immense difficulty they are silent. Having rejected Harrell’s kooky position, we have nothing to gain from embracing a different sort of idolatry (whose main purposes are to advance the vanity and social power of scientists).
If, as the evidence suggests, the Chinese virus is enormously dangerous to people with certain medical conditions and those over 70 years old, but a much smaller danger to those under 70, then shutting down the entire country indefinitely is probably a bad idea.
But even when the time is right — by Easter, June or the fall — there will be no one to stop the quarantine because the media will continue to hype every coronavirus death, as if these are the only deaths that count and the only deaths that were preventable.
What mayor, governor or president will be willing to take the blame for causing a coronavirus death?
We’ll get no BREAKING NEWS alerts for the regular flu deaths (so far this season, more than 23,000, compared to 533 from the coronavirus).
Nor for the more than 3,000 people who die every day of heart disease or cancer. No alerts for the hundreds who die each day from car accidents, illegal aliens and suicide.
Only coronavirus deaths are considered newsworthy.
We’re told by the “Quarantine Everybody” crowd: Listen to the scientists! Unfortunately, most of the “scientists” they present to us are lawyers. (How did Robert Reich, Donna Shalala and Ron Klain become medical professionals?)
Also, the scientists disagree.
Just as, I assume, they did in 1976, when epidemiologists warned of another 1918 Spanish flu pandemic after a few young Army recruits died of swine flu at Fort Dix in New Jersey. Eight months later, the federal government launched a mandatory swine flu vaccination program.
About a quarter of the country was vaccinated before the program was abruptly shut down. No pandemic had materialized. The virus infected a few people, then vanished. But directly as a result of receiving the vaccine, dozens of Americans died and several hundred acquired Guillain-Barre syndrome.
The scientists also disagreed in the 1980s, when the media and government went into overdrive to scare us all about AIDS. (1985 Life magazine cover: “NOW, NO ONE IS SAFE FROM AIDS.”)
Surgeon General C. Everett Koop — as revered by the media then as Anthony Fauci is today — lied about the disease, insisting that “[h]eterosexual persons are increasingly at risk.”
Speaking of which, here’s liberal sex symbol Fauci on AIDS back in 1983, when he was with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, but not yet its director: “As the months go by, we see more and more groups. AIDS is creeping out of well-defined epidemiological confines.” (It didn’t.)
In 1987, Fauci warned that French kissing might transmit the AIDS virus, saying, “Health officials have to presume that it is possible to transmit the virus by exchange of saliva in deep kissing. That presumption is made to be extra safe.”
By 1992, after a decade-long epidemic with more than a million infections, the Centers for Disease Control could find only 2,391 cases of AIDS transmission by white heterosexuals — and that included hemophiliacs and blood transfusion patients. (“White” because AIDS cases among Haitian and African immigrants had a variety of causes.)
But teenagers and sorority girls had to spend years being frightened of kissing lest they catch the AIDS virus, just as today they’re afraid of leaving their homes to avoid a virus that, in Italy, has killed no one under 30 years old and precious few under 50.
We have to be “extra safe.”
Both the No French Kissing rule and Quarantine Everybody rule are perfectly rational positions for an epidemiologist to take. That’s why we need to listen to people other than epidemiologists.
How about the doctors who keep pointing out that the coronavirus is mainly a problem for people over 70 and those with specific health problems?
The president should listen to experts in other fields, too. A country is more than an economy, but it’s also more than a virus.
If we listened only to emergency room doctors, we might come away convinced that we have to completely ban cars, alcohol and gummy bears. (Don’t ask.) While taking a torts class in law school, I was afraid to sit under a chandelier, order a flaming dessert or stand at a train stop.
Playwright Arthur Miller once told a story about a geologist who remarked that life was possible even in the vast American desert. All you needed was water, he said, and the largest reservoir on the globe was located right under the Rockies.
But how would he get it?
Simple — drop a couple of atomic bombs.
But what about the fallout?
“Oh,” said the geologist, “that’s not my field.”
Today, the epidemiologists are prepared to nuke the entire American economy to kill a virus.
What about the jobs, the suicides, the heart attacks, the lost careers, the destruction of America’s wealth?
Oh, that’s not my field.
In ancient Greece glorious athletes competed naked, but in Tokyo they would have been forced to run the unhealthy marathon with a face mask. That would have been a rudeness of Olympic proportions that would make Baron de Coubertin’s hair stand on end!
Therefore, the IOC has been forced to suspend the Games this summer, and the sports competition, which has changed as much as the move from the Apollonian laurel wreath to medals, stops to the horror of those who practice sport on TV.
The first Greek Games that were established in the Peloponnese 2,700 years ago were designed so that warriors could train and have fun at the same time. Today they represent a formidable business above any fraternal sense. I doubt that many of today’s professional athletes know how to have fun, but that’s another matter.
Most athletes complain that they cannot train properly because of forced confinement. In spite of the viral video of an obsessive guy capable of running forty kilometers on his terrace, the athletes are protesting the unequal conditions. I don’t know what an Ethiopian or a Jamaican would say about it, since the inequality in training aid is gigantic according to country, but in any case, the Games are delayed by a year, which means a lot to an elite athlete.
Currently the most competitive race on the planet is the fight for medical equipment. The Germans report that up to 6 million face masks they had bought from China have disappeared at an airport in Kenya. Piracy and the international black market pounce on masks, respirators, and gloves…which can then be sold to the highest bidder.
There is also another great public relations competition in the international arena. The dream of the European Union is quite shattered by its lack of unity. Much like every man for himself! Closing borders between E.U. countries makes it difficult to transport supplies. In the midst of the human tragedy that la bella Italia is suffering, it has been China, Russia, and Cuba that have offered the biggest help. They send medical equipment and supplies that will wash their totalitarian image better than any embassy. It is presumed that there will be a great change in the new world order after the coronavirus.
In Spain, the virus strikes with savage force and thunderous protests against the management by the socialist government of Pedro Sánchez and his communist partners. They encouraged a feminist rally shortly before declaring a state of emergency! The irresponsible propaganda won over common sense and that demonstration has been the cause of massive contagion. Furthermore, the tremendous lack of response and preparation when we saw Italy’s suffering has exacerbated the fury. Doctors and nurses fight like lions, but they are exposed due to a lack of proper equipment. The communist partners of the government go so far as to insult the millionaire aid from private entrepreneurs! Thus they dared to criticize the emperor of Zara, Amancio Ortega, who is much more skilled than any ministry when it comes to bringing the necessary equipment to Spain. They also promote attacks on the King, but Don Felipe has better relationships and prestige than any of them and dedicates his efforts to bringing aid to Spain.
Will the viral earthquake subside by summer? The consequences are already disastrous, but people will take to the streets with the joy of a survivor. After so much cackling about the loneliness of modern humanity in the cyber age, now all we want to do is throw our computers out the window and make a pilgrimage to the bar to chat, flirt, and socialize.
The existentialist Sartre cried, “Hell is other people!” from his table at the Cafe de Flore, but forced confinement, unless you’re a hermit, a yogi, or a solitary navigator, is proving very hard.
When the starting gun goes off, the race to the bar will break Olympic records.
(The article in its original Spanish immediately follows.)
Correr el Maraton Con Mascarilla
Si en la antigua Grecia los atletas competían gloriosamente desnudos, en Tokio se hubieran visto obligados a correr el insalubre maratón con una mascarilla. ¡Eso hubiera significado una olímpica grosería que pondría los pelos de punta al barón de Coubertin!
Por razones estéticas y víricas el COI se ha visto forzado a suspender los Juegos de este verano. Las olimpiadas, que han cambiado tanto como el paso de la apolínea corona de laurel al metal de las medallas, se detienen para espanto de los que practican deporte solo por televisión.
Los primeros Juegos griegos que se establecieron en el Peloponeso hace dos mil setecientos años fueron pensados para que los guerreros pudieran entrenar y divertirse al mismo tiempo. Hoy en día suponen un negocio formidable por encima de cualquier sentido fraternal. Y dudo que muchos de los atletas tan profesionales de hoy en día sepan divertirse, pero eso es otra cuestión.
La mayoría de atletas se quejan que no pueden entrenar debido al confinamiento forzoso. Aunque es viral el vídeo de un tipo obsesivo capaz de correr cuarenta kilómetros en una estrecha terraza, los atletas protestaban por la desigualdad de condiciones. No sé qué dirían al respecto un etíope o un jamaicano, pues la desigualdad en las ayudas para entrenar son siderales según los países. Pero en cualquier caso los Juegos se retrasan un año, lo cual significa mucho para un deportista de élite.
Actualmente la carrera más competitiva del planeta lucha por el pódium del material sanitario. Los alemanes denuncian que hasta seis millones de mascarillas que habían comprado a los chinos, han desaparecido en un aeropuerto de Kenia. La piratería y el mercado negro internacional se abalanza por mascarillas, respiradores, guantes…que luego podrán vender al mejor postor.
También hay otra gran carrera de relaciones públicas en la esfera internacional. El sueño de Europa está bastante resquebrajado por la falta de unidad de acción. Ha sido como un ¡sálvese quién pueda! El cierre de fronteras entre los países de la UE dificulta el transporte de suministros. En medio de la tragedia humana que vive la bella Italia, han sido China, Rusia y Cuba los que más se han ofrecido a ayudar. Envían médicos y material sanitario que lavarán su imagen totalitaria mejor que cualquier embajada. Se presume que habrá un gran cambio en el nuevo orden mundial después del coronavirus.
En España el virus golpea con fuerza salvaje y hay caceroladas de protesta por la gestión del gobierno socialista de Pedro Sánchez y sus socios comunistas. ¡Alentaron una manifestación feminista poco antes de declarar el estado de alarma! La irresponsable propaganda ganó al sentido común y esa manifestación ha sido causa de contagio masivo. También la tremenda falta de respuesta y preparación cuando veíamos a Italia sufriendo, pues era una cuestión de días el efecto contagio. Médicos y enfermeras luchan como leones, pero se ven expuestos porque carecen del equipo adecuado. Y, encima, los socios comunistas del gobierno insultan las ayudas millonarias de empresarios privados a la sanidad. Así se atreven a criticar al emperador de Zara, Amancio Ortega, que es mucho más hábil moviéndose que cualquier ministerio a la hora de traer a España los equipos necesarios. También promueven los ataques al Rey, pero Don Felipe tiene mejores relaciones y prestigio que cualquiera de ellos y dedica sus esfuerzos a traer ayuda a España.
¿Se calmará el terremoto vírico de cara al verano? Las consecuencias ya son desastrosas, pero la gente saldrá a la calle con la alegría del superviviente. Tanto cacarear con la soledad de la humanidad moderna en la era cibernética y resulta que estamos deseando arrojar el ordenador por la ventana y peregrinar al bar, charlar, coquetear, relacionarnos. El existencialista Sartre clamaba “¡el infierno son los otros!” desde su mesita del Café Flore, pero el confinamiento forzoso, a no ser que seas un ermitaño, un yogui anacoreta o un navegante solitario, está resultando una durísima prueba.
En cuanto den el pistoletazo de salida, la carrera al bar batirá cualquier récord olímpico.
The Associated Press reported this week:
In the critical month of February, as the virus began taking root in the U.S. population, CDC data shows government labs processed 352 COVID-19 tests—an average of only a dozen per day.
At a time in which the failure of the Centers for Disease Control to promptly organize mass coronavirus testing is a national disgrace, the following sounds like a boomer clickbait headline:
Mother of Two Tests Herself, Her Kids, and Her Neighbor for COVID-19
But it’s true.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you or I could carry out a do-it-yourself quantitative polymerase chain reaction test. After all, the woman who did this, who prefers to be called S in this article, is a professor of genetics at a state flagship university where she researches bacterial genetics, with a focus on CRISPR.
In S’s case, her departmental chair came up with the idea that their lab had the resources to do COVID-19 testing; she and a few other members of her department downloaded the how-to instructions from the CDC; and in a day they had a working test.
It sure doesn’t sound easy: “You take the RNA of the virus and convert it into DNA, which is what works in a PCR reaction,” S told me. But for professionals of this caliber, it’s fairly routine.
Feeling under the weather, she took samples from herself, her children, and a neighbor with similar symptoms, which required about three hours for her to process.
All proved negative.
S’s reaction? “Relief, but it didn’t make my scratchy throat go away,” she says, laughing. “Of course, it could have been better to get the virus with mild symptoms, that’s perhaps optimal.”
Widespread testing, which the South Koreans have pursued with the most vigor and effectiveness, “would help us know both when to isolate and when to get out,” she says.
In contrast to PCR testing, which detects current but not past infections, antibody testing tells us an individual’s history. This “would tell us who would be relatively immune for working in health care and for logistics…and for haircuts.”
The resources for doing testing are widely distributed in America.
S points out there are two questions relevant to capacity:
“Can you do the test? There are at least a dozen labs on our campus that can work with nonviable viruses.”
But the more difficult hurdle is: “Can you handle potentially dangerous samples? When you work with a dangerous virus, you need precautions. But there are still dozens of labs in this state that can do it.”
The larger point that this example highlights is that the United States of America in particular, the Anglosphere in general, and the world overall have a very deep bench of talented and trained medical and scientific personnel who can step up and take the initiative even when the official channels get bogged down. The U.S. has invested heavily in genetics and other biomedical sciences in recent decades and is poised to reap some benefits in this crisis.
Although we have been lectured incessantly (at least until about a week ago) about the lack of women in computer coding and physics, for the last two generations talented women have tended to flock in large numbers instead to the life sciences, which, at the moment, seems like a very good thing.
S also points out that the speed with which life scientists can respond to this catastrophe has benefited from the recent preprint revolution in which researchers increasingly bypass the lengthy peer review process in traditional journals by posting manuscripts themselves on nonprofit public servers such as medRxiv and bioRxiv.
She notes, “If they have a COVID-19 protocol they think will be useful, it will be replicated. We have a healthy educational community that wants to be helpful. I hear a lot of complaints about poor preparedness, but there’s a lot of energy, a lot of movement, people moving very quickly. I haven’t heard of examples of irresponsible haste leading to mistakes (although that is inevitable).”
It’s worth recalling that the USA’s initial response to World War II was also unprepossessing. After the debacle at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, hysteria swept the West Coast. The 1979 movie 1941 was a rare flop for director Steven Spielberg, but it conveys the slightly addled temperature of the times, which led, comically, to the Feb. 24, 1942, “Battle of Los Angeles” in which Americans unleashed a huge amount of antiaircraft fire on nonexistent Japanese warplanes; and, shamefully, to the internment of Japanese-Americans.
(By the way, I’ve finally figured out what the U.S. government should have done with the West Coast Nisei: just ask each one to swear an oath about whose side he was on, and then trust his sense of honor. The Roosevelt administration, which had had more experience with its duplicitous Communist allies than with the forthright Japanese-Americans, assumed you couldn’t rely upon the word of the Nisei just like you couldn’t rely upon that of their Stalinist friends. But it turned out that the 5,000 Japanese-Americans who told the U.S. they were loyal to the Emperor caused much trouble at their high-security internment camp, just like they said they would, while those who swore allegiance to the U.S. behaved admirably.)
Yet, within six months of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. won its greatest naval victory at Midway. America has immense resources of smart, energetic people who can step up in times of need.
One major possibility is the development of drugs to treat patients and/or render the uninfected less susceptible. These hopefully will prove faster to develop than a vaccine.
The World Health Organization is organizing trials around the world of four types of existing drugs that showed potential in China, including chloroquine. On the other hand, lots of promising drugs that worked in the test tube have failed in patients, so we can’t assume that one of the first four will be the magic bullet.
We should also be gearing up to look at every existing drug approved as safe for humans. Human biology is extremely complex, so it can make sense when we are flying fairly blind, as we are now, to look for drugs that might prove fortuitously effective the way Thomas Edison invented the light bulb: by considering a huge number of possibilities. Edison tested 6,000 types of vegetation for his carbonized filament before settling upon bamboo. His kind of atheoretical experimentation is out of fashion in pharmaceutical development, but it’s worth considering in this emergency.
Moreover, we should look at the entire drug tool-kit of the veterinary profession.
Granted, in recent decades, pharmaceutical development has slowed to a depressing pace. There have been fewer spectacular new drugs than in the heroic age of medical progress in the mid–20th century.
But that’s largely because we already have pretty good drugs for most old diseases. For old diseases, a new drug has to work better than the old drugs, which is hard to achieve. But for this novel disease, an effective new drug can’t be inferior because, at present, we don’t have anything at all.
Things can change, and not just for the worse. We have the people to do it.
As I type these words, Californians are under a mandatory “stay at home” edict issued by the Patrick Bateman cosplayer in our statehouse. Any Californian caught leaving his, her, its, or zir home for “nonessential” reasons is subject to fine or imprisonment.
Yes, the state that removed criminal penalties for knowingly giving someone AIDS has imposed criminal penalties on anyone who might inadvertently spread Wuhanvirus. Yes, the open-borders governor who claims he has no moral authority to tell Mexicans to stay out has ordered all Californians to stay in.
And yes, the state that’s rapidly decriminalizing property crimes has criminalized going outdoors. A Californian who decides to take a walk in a park risks more severe penalties than an illegal alien who steals a TV. Cities like San Francisco have reclassified property crimes as non-arrest offenses (citation only, as if for jaywalking), and California as a whole has deemed theft of items valued at less than $950 a non-arrest offense (as a result, such thefts are rarely pursued by police). On the other hand, any violation of Gavin Newsom’s “stay at home” edict is “punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or by imprisonment for no more than six months” (L.A.’s separate “stay at home” order carries the same penalties).
Here’s the funny part: Newsom has stated that he doesn’t believe imprisonment will actually be necessary in order to enforce the lockdown, because the mere threat of it will create a “social pressure” that will persuade Californians to comply on their own. A fascinating theory…the very presence of the threat of arrest and imprisonment acts as a force to compel compliance. So what happens when you remove that threat from crimes like robbery? You get looters running wild, because they risk no consequences.
In cities like Philly, the DA has directly ordered cops to stop making arrests for property crimes during the crisis, while in New York and other Democrat enclaves, activist DAs are pushing for the mass release of prisoners to “mitigate” the outbreak (see, quarantine only makes the law-abiding safe from the virus; for reasons left unexplained, quarantine is somehow unsafe for criminals).
Tucker Carlson has been rightfully enraged by the way in which these “progressive” DAs have been exploiting the virus to push an anti-enforcement agenda. But he’s missing a wonderful irony here in my own beloved, horrific home of Los Angeles: As my fellow Angelenos have been stripping supermarket shelves bare, hoarding items in fear of a bug that’s highly unlikely to kill them, our votes have finally been tallied in a very important local race that was held on Super Tuesday.
Yes, Super Tuesday…three weeks ago. And only now do we have a semi-final tally in our district-attorney race (hey, don’t make fun; this is as fast as L.A. Unified School District grads can count). It turns out that Angelenos—the very people scared shitless by a flu bug—voted in huge numbers for a certifiable lunatic who wants to essentially decriminalize almost all property crimes and other “nonviolent” offenses in the county. Our incumbent DA, Jackie Lacey, will face a runoff in November.
Lacey, our first black female DA, will square off against George Gascón, a Havana-born San Francisco revolutionary who’s pledged to eliminate cash bail, stop arresting people of color, and cease prosecution of most property crimes.
Let’s meditate on that for a moment: The people of L.A., when faced with a new and potentially dangerous flu strain, declared, “Time to panic! Nothing matters more than obtaining essential possessions!” At the very same time, those exact same people voted for a guy who basically said, “If elected, I will make it easier for people to steal your essential possessions.”
The same hoarding dumbasses succumbing to hysteria over the thought of “not having stuff” made the conscious choice to vote for a guy who pledged to allow criminals to steal their stuff.
That’s mental illness…textbook dissociative disorder. And it’s something that Tucker Carlson overlooked while (justifiably) venting his anger at leftist DAs. The march from civilized nation to Third World shithole isn’t entirely occurring via official decree. In many cases, we’re doing it to ourselves; we’re voting for it. Incumbent Jackie Lacey is no prize pig; she’s a career politician, a cog in the L.A. big-money political machine. But as such, she does have at least some motivation to keep the city running smoothly. Lacey vs. Gascón is a classic Third World contest: a crony bureaucrat hack vs. an ideological madman who wants to burn everything to the ground.
The corrupt vs. the fanatic: This is the only choice Third Worlders ever get. One appeals to the voters who don’t expect things to get better but don’t want them to get worse, while the other appeals to those who think a wild-eyed extremist and his sword can lead them to paradise. George Gascón, his ideological twin Chesa Boudin (the Jewish communist revolutionary who’s currently dismantling law and order as San Francisco’s DA), and the NYC politicos who crafted that city’s “no bail” policy…these are the people dragging us straight to Third World hell. But these verminous creatures didn’t seize power in a coup; they were voted in. Now, demographics explain a lot of that, but not all of it. L.A. County has a ton of wealth, plenty of white folks, and no shortage of upper- and middle-class homeowners whose interests will be the first betrayed by these ballot-box choices. Non-Hispanic whites might be a minority in this county (26.1%), but they make up a high percentage of likely voters.
That “missing link” between man and ape, that transitional period between civilization and favela, is more complicated than mere demography. In a nation with democratic elections, the people who stand to lose the most must, at least to some degree, be persuaded to willingly surrender their advantage. Like any good anthropologist, it’s that “transitional fossil” that fascinates me.
Why did these toilet-paper hoarders, so possessive of their “stuff,” vote to make it damn near legal for criminals to steal their stuff?
We don’t have a lot of blacks left in L.A. County (a paltry 9%), and they were split. About half supported Lacey out of racial loyalty, and about half were willing to back the white Cuban, because the decriminalization of property crime is quite popular among the black Angelenos who prefer stealing things to working for them. In fact, Black Lives Matter thugs were deputized as Gascón’s stormtroopers, physically harassing Lacey, busting up meetings and debates, and trespassing on her property (at one point forcing Lacey’s husband to pull a gun in self-defense). BLM and all groups that favor lawlessness supported Gascón.
But what of the whites? Well, here’s why you shouldn’t write off L.A. and San Francisco’s freefall as something unique to nutty ol’ California. The “progressive prosecution” movement represented by scum like Gascón and Boudin doesn’t initially present as an enemy to middle-class whites. The cancer first attacks the heartstrings, targeting both humanitarian and libertarian instincts in moderate whites. “Drug abuse is a disease! Why should we imprison someone for being an addict?” That’s how it always starts: “Let’s empty the prisons of drug offenders.” This reasoning appeals to mainstream conservatives, too. “All those expensive prison beds could be used for the real bad guys! The rapists, the murderers. Let’s stop wasting money on imprisoning the sick, and spend our precious tax dollars on putting away the true villains!”
Marijuana is being decriminalized in red states as well as blue. Mark the words of a man who’s seen this unfold: Non-prosecution of drug offenders (not just pot, but all drugs) comes next.
Of course, “treatment not incarceration for drug users” is not the endgame, but the entry point. Next come the thieves. After all, weren’t many of them merely robbing to support their drug addiction? These aren’t robber barons and white-collar banksters (boo!). Anyone who steals under $950 is likely just some poor junkie trying to support a habit. Treatment, not jail, will address the root of that erroneous behavior. Plus, by not pursuing “petty” thieves, the cops have the time and resources to go after the real bad guys! The rapists, the murderers, etc. etc. etc.
Meanwhile, white voters will be mollified by stats that appear to show a decrease in crime (“See? It’s working!”), whereas in fact those stats simply reflect a drop in arrests and prosecutions.
Every step of the way, the progressive prosecutors sell their poison under the guise of “freeing resources to go after and imprison the real criminals.” But in reality, the actual endgame is to eliminate the very idea of incarceration, for anything. We’re seeing this in Cali right now. “Treatment not incarceration for drug users” led to “no incarceration for petty thieves,” which has now led to “no incarceration for any thieves.”
What do you think comes next? Well, there’s no need to guess. The entire “progressive prosecution” playbook was laid out in a December 2018 Harvard Law Review note (unsigned, like all Harvard Law Review notes). The anonymous author(s) argue that “the entire criminal legal system is a racial caste system,” and that concepts like “‘colorblindness,’ ‘merit,’ and ‘the border’ have disadvantaged people of color.” The note explains that eventually, the entire criminal justice system must be dismantled, and to do so, things must be taken out of the hands of voters. “Progressive prosecutors are possible only when voters elect them,” but “voters are notoriously fickle,” the note laments. “Nothing prevents localities that favor progressive prosecution today from electing a traditional tough-on-crime prosecutor tomorrow.”
Due to “the pitfalls of leaving issues of racial justice to the whims of voters in individual jurisdictions,” today’s progressive prosecutors must eventually “defund the very offices” to which they were elected, so as to “eliminate reliance on prosecutors” entirely. Money that would have gone to criminal justice will instead be redirected to the “black and brown community” as “reparations” to “remedy the accumulated impact of past harms.”
It will be at this point that people realize that, in the end, it was never about “getting the real bad guys.” It was about phasing out the office of district attorney, eliminating the role of the prosecutor, eliminating prosecution itself, and giving money and free rein to the “black and brown” communities.
Right now, progressive prosecution activists are taking advantage of a national crisis to up the pace of their agenda. This is an accelerated vision of what’s planned for every city, eventually. The crisis is useful, but not required, and when it ends, the nihilistic, hate-filled fanatics will return to the slow hand and the long game.
So learn the playbook and be on guard.
Los Angeles used to be a great city. As you watch us commit suicide by ballot, as you watch us hoard our valuable goods as we vote to decriminalize the theft of our valuable goods, don’t just laugh at us.
Learn how we got here.
And go and don’t do likewise.