The racist rhetorics of government leaders around the globe are wearisome since they reflect all the mistakes of the past. A cynic might say human kind hasn’t learned a thing from medical history. An optimist might say we’ve learned a hell of a lot but demagogues are still too numerous to count and accordingly science still gets stepped on.
Fact: it doesn’t matter where a virus originates and we may never know. Fact: the “Spanish Flu” probably originated in Kansas. Fact: international modes of transportation spread illness and always have. We should call all airborne diseases “transportation illness” and call it a day.
But the demagogues say, “where’s the fun in that?” It’s fun blaming foreigners for a calamity while doing next to nothing about it. Donald Trump is having fun. Inciting hatred is his game. Leading the nation requires providing badly needed coordinated governance to fight a pandemic. Not so fun. Not as fun as tweeting.
Trump believes everyone who becomes ill is insufficiently American. If you’re not healthy you’re not a good cowboy. In his book “The Year of the Century” Dee Brown wrote of the yellow fever that swept across the United States in 1876:
“The American pioneer was a healthy individual, or he did not survive. He spent little time in crowds and had few opportunities to contract infectious diseases. With the concentration of population in cities, however, epidemics became more common. “Crowd-sickness,” was the diagnosis of physicians who often did not recognize the disease or combination of diseases with which they were confronted.”
“Most dreaded of all were epidemics which struck without warning—yellow fever, malaria, sometimes cholera. Many people believed them to be God’s punishment for the sins of the wicked and resisted them only with prayers and repentance. Physicians faced these pestilences with courage and a sense of defeat.”
Why does Trump not want to help the governors of populous states? Is it because they’re generally cosmopolitan places and they vote blue? Or is it because they’re not pull yourself up by your bootstraps cowboys? You pick.
Maybe Andrew Cuomo would get more help for New York if he wore a ten gallon hat and spurs?