This pandemic has been made worse and continues to be made worse by toxic nationalism, ironic considering the virus truly doesn’t give a shit about our borders, says Lee Camp, CN’s newest columnist.
By Lee Camp
Special to Consortium News
Something every American takes for granted has made the coronavirus outbreak much worse. That thing sits ingrained in our minds since we could barely take two steps without a face full of carpet. But before I get to that, let’s set the scene.
I don’t have to tell you that things are bad. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, our economy (based almost completely on everyone buying things they don’t need at prices they can’t afford) has tanked, a record 3.3 million Americans just filed for unemployment, and perhaps scariest of all – World Wrestling Entertainment has continued performing some of their events despite the lack of an audience.
If you thought watching emotionally stunted men with oily saran-wrap skin pulsing with steroids grab each other in bear hugs while whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears was strange with a live audience of thousands screaming for blood, then you can’t imagine the level of bizarre it reaches without anyone there. It seems oddly romantic now. It feels like they’re about to share a deep tongue kiss at any moment. And I’m not sure the world doesn’t need that kind of passion right about now.
Although there’s also something reassuring about the fact that even in these stark times sweaty angry hugging men persist. I like to think that when the cockroaches reign supreme, weeds grow up through the remnants of the roads and playgrounds and shopping malls and hot stone massage parlors, the final humans live in underground bunkers dressed in gas-mask chic (mainly grays and blacks but still sporting a hint of color in the glasses rims or the neck tattoos or the homemade battle axe sheaths), and the economy is based on Gross Domestic Protein Pellets (the only remaining food source) – even THEN, the professional bulky men will continue to perform stunning aerial traumatic brain injuries for the joy and excitement of whoever’s left. (This would presuppose no one informed said men the TV cameras had been cannibalized for parts 10 years prior.)
Point is – things are bad right now. But you probably already know every last detail about Coronavirus, which is why I’m not going to give you those. Instead, I want to focus on a hidden story, a taboo topic your mainstream media anchors would sooner eat their own neck ties than discuss.
This pandemic has been made worse and continues to be made worse by toxic nationalism, ironic considering the virus truly doesn’t give a shit about our borders. It doesn’t care if you put up a fence or you speak a different language or you’re an immigrant from somewhere else or you got circumcised in a ceremony with a shaman and some bagpipes and a bucket of ripe mangoes.
The virus doesn’t care.
Yet again we’re letting our human delusions dictate our response to a physical world completely unaware of and unyielding to such fairy tales. Acting like nationalism matters when facing a killer disease is like trying to combat a phalanx of sword-wielding samurais with nothing but nostalgia.
When the Coronavirus was first talked about in the U.S., our government and media used it as a chance to disseminate anti-China rhetoric, widely known as the fuel for racism. Our nation’s best propaganda outlet, The New York Times (I mean that with all disrespect), put it this way – “To Tame Coronavirus, Mao-Style Social Control Blankets China.”
Oh, social control? They mean like – “Everyone stay six feet away from everyone else. No one go to a restaurant or bar or visit your grandparents or wave hi to an old person on a bus. Don’t travel anywhere. Thou shalt not interact with thy fellow human nor covet thy neighbor’s ass.” You mean like that kind of social control? You mean the restrictions we Americans now abide by?
I’m sorry, fearless Times writers, but racism is not your best bet against a raging disease. Very few “-isms” stop ultramicroscopic metabolically inert infectious agents. I myself have tried using buddhism, sadomasochism, feudalism, autoerotic asphyxiationism, and antidisestablishmentarianism. They’ve all let me down. Although the feudalism did show some promise against a slight case of rickets I had as a child.
Yet, our ruling elite continue to act as if this is an issue of nations. In fact our buffoon of a president continues to call it “The Chinese Virus” because he’s a very simple-minded man. He can only think in “bad” and “good.” He thinks “China bad.” So telling him that a virus doesn’t care about anyone’s nationality fails to compute for him. The two sickly hamsters neglecting to run around the wobbly wheels inside his cranium look at each other for a brief moment and then go back to licking their asses.
A Times 180
Our Salamander-in-Chief cannot comprehend that China has actually succeeded in slowing down this virus and their actions helped buy America valuable extra time before it spread to our shores. Even The New York Times, our Propaganda-in-Chief, finally admitted “China Bought the West Time. The West Squandered It.”
This is one of the Times’ patented come-to-Jesus moments when they suddenly pull a 180, tires squealing, and realize the truth that most people understood weeks if not months if not years before. They’ve performed this same maneuver with WMD in Iraq, the harms of climate change, the lack of harms of marijuana, police brutality, sexual harassment in the workplace, whether women must ride horses “side saddle,” and whether the Matrix is any good.
This latest about-face on China will not last, just as none of their various awakenings actually change the intent of the corporate media. It’s more of a, “Yeah, sorry about all that racist shit we printed a month ago. We’ve completely changed our ways… until a week from now when we’ll go back to pushing for white supremacist wars in which the American military excitedly blows up Arab people.”
I think the point I’m trying to make is that talking about how one country is better or worse or weaker or whatever during this pandemic is like if a herd of angry rhinos were stampeding toward you and you just kept yelling that you have on nicer shoes than the guy next to you.
Rhinos. Don’t. Care.
Right now – this moment – is a horrible and also crucial time. It’s showing us not just the incredibly ridiculous flaws in capitalism, but it’s also demonstrating our shared humanity. We must join together, fight this thing, and shed our toxic nationalism. But our sociopathic leaders won’t dare do that.
Mintpress along with other outlets is reporting that in the middle of the Coronavirus outbreak America has actually cranked up the heat on its hybrid war against Venezuela. Reporter Leonardo Flores wrote, “US sanctions on Venezuela have already forced the country to spend three times as much for testing kits as non-sanctioned countries.” On top of that, the Justice Department just put a $15 million bounty on President Nicolas Maduro’s head.
Iran has also suffered tremendously because of our sanctions on them. They can’t deal with the virus appropriately without the medical supplies – and two weeks ago Google pulled Iran’s official app meant to help their people deal with Coronavirus. Perhaps they did this specifically to harm Iranians; perhaps they were jealous Iran has an app to help fight the virus while all we seem to have is a squirt gun filled with Purell and a strict order against high-fives.
Basically, our government officials and the tech company execs lying sticky and prone in bed with them want to make sure as many people die from Coronavirus as possible – in Iran and Venezuela and North Korea and any other countries we don’t like because those countries refuse to freely cough up their oil or lithium or rare earth metals or independence.
But I can’t stress this enough: The virus doesn’t care where the fuck you’re from.
Some countries have figured this out, turning to other nations for help. A couple weeks ago Cuban and Chinese doctors showed up in Italy to aid their health officials. As Telesur reported Cuba has the interferon Alpha-2B, which is a powerful treatment for the virus, and China has shown the ability to overcome the infections.
But here’s something you won’t hear on your mainstream outlets and all your corporate assholets. Here’s something that’s forbidden: Maybe – just maybe – this pandemic shows us it’s time to evolve past the idea of NATIONS.
(I’ll give you a moment while your mind reels at the thought crime this author has committed. …Then, if you’re brave enough, please read on.)
We act like nations are a given – as if there’s no other way to organize our species, no other way to behave except to have your flag’s colors tattooed across your nipples and your national anthem burned into your soft mushy brain matter. But in fact, nations have not always been the way we humans have divided ourselves. The idea of nations isn’t even particularly old.
When we think of ideas or manners of behaving that have withstood the test of time so much so they seem to be common sense, we think of actions and beliefs that are thousands of years old. That list includes walking on two legs, carrying your infant around, having sex, defending yourself, building shelter, cooking food, and yanking excess hair off your body (mainly out of the nostrils) in order to score the previously mentioned sex. All of these things have been done by our species for eons.
But dividing ourselves into nations most certainly has not. Nation states didn’t really exist until the late 18th century. John Breuilly of the London School of Economics says, “Far from timeless, the nation-state is a recent phenomenon… Before the late 18th century, there were no real nation-states… neither passports nor borders as we know them existed.”
And even as nations began developing, they weren’t that important to a lot of people. He continues, “Many eastern European immigrants arriving in the US in the 19th century could say what village they came from, but not what country: it didn’t matter to them. …Ancient empires are coloured on modern maps as if they had firm borders, but they didn’t.”
So only a little over 200 years ago human categorization changed and nations became the hot new thing. “In 1800 almost nobody in France thought of themselves as French. By 1900 they all did.”
An idea that took hold 200 years ago has come to rule all of our minds, like a parasite. We can’t imagine being separated, delineated or categorized in other ways even as we acknowledge that internally we’re very fractured. Many African Americans may feel quite different from certain white Americans, yet we won’t hear media reports stating that globally black people are dealing with Coronavirus like this and white people like that.
In some cases separating us differently than by nation would make a lot of sense. Rich people are far more likely to survive Coronavirus than poor people. Wealthy people the world over are more likely to have access to testing, treatment, good doctors, ventilators, etc. Poor people all over the planet are more likely to try to “tough it out” at home because they don’t have a doctor or can’t afford one.
Freeing Our Minds
What if we decided there were no nations but instead the working people of the world were one group and the corporate owners of the world were another group. If humans were divvied up that way instead, the working people of China would be able to help the working people of Italy or America and vice versa without nationalistic propaganda. (Of course this raises other problems such as that the corporate owners would certainly hoard all the ventilators since they are generally sociopaths.)
But we are subliminally told by our mainstream media never to side with the people of another nation. First and foremost care about America. Yet in reality, if we free our minds beyond the mental prison of toxic nationalism, do any of us have anything against a shoe salesman in China or a garbage man in Cuba? I seriously doubt it. You’re not at war with that shoe salesman. You don’t have any reason to hate him or even wish him ill will. So truthfully the extremely rich of the world are at war with each other while 99% of the various populations are along for the ride – some knowingly and some blissfully unaware.
As we continue to do everything we must to stop this virus, keep in mind – our world is evolving. And that can be a good thing. The authors of the book “The Universe Next Door” from NewScientist state, “Most hierarchical systems tend to become top-heavy, expensive and incapable of responding to change.” Our current America fits all of these characteristics and then some. The American empire is exceedingly top heavy, expensive, and incapable of responding to change. In fact, the Democratic establishment have spent billions in these primaries to make absolutely sure they do not allow the change Bernie Sanders represents to infiltrate the system. Much like a massive battleship or Chris Christie, the American empire takes an overwhelmingly long time to change course even slightly. The current inertia is just too great.
When you end up with a top-heavy, expensive hierarchy that can’t adapt, it creates a lot of tension. Back to NewScientist – “The resulting tension may be released through partial collapse. …Collapse, say some, is the creative destruction that allows new structures to emerge.”
Well, I have news for you. We are definitely in the middle of a partial collapse. For Christ’s sake – Kentucky Fried Chicken is closed! KFC would stay open during a nuclear meltdown while charging extra for the green tinted mashed potatoes.
During this partial collapse, new structures could emerge if we break out of our antiquated thought prisons. Right now is not about nations or fences or political parties. It’s about you, and me, and our neighbors, and our friends, and our shared humanity.
Lee Camp is the host and head writer of the hit comedy news show “Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp.” His new book “Bullet Points and Punch Lines” is available at LeeCampBook.com and his standup comedy special can be streamed at LeeCampAmerican.com.
Nationalism is here to stay. However slow, grudging, or incompetent the response of national governments has been to the corona virus people are not going to get mad at nationalism.
The time that China bought and the west squandered is not a mark against nationalism. Even dyed-in-the-wool anti nationalists are happy that national borders exist and can be closed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
A useful propaganda tool facilitating the social relations self-described as “The United States of America” is the conflation/restriction sovereignty/nation state (including derivative nationalism).
This facilitates the manifest destiny of we the people hold these truths to be self-evidentness including when destiny does not reflect expectations.
Thanks very much for this. Nationalism is certainly not useful at times when you’re dealing with a disease. Honey badger don’t care. Too many have absorbed this message and, Stockholm Syndrome like, agreed with their misleaders. You point out well that most people would not have a problem with a shoe shiner in Cuba or a restaurant owner in China. I agree with your point I just wish that more people saw the world like this. Sadly they don’t. Still, a great article and I appreciate the humor at this dark time.
Lee’s arrival on these pages is certainly a turn toward acceptance of a different style of dialogue; brutal sarcasm, out and out insults of those meriting insulting (all appropriate). In other words its shock therapy for minds massaged by the oh so polite (mostly) MSM.
Great article. On Facebook, for all the years I’ve had an account there, my profile picture is the cover of John Lennon’s Imagine album, because I agree with most of the lyrics, but first and foremost, “Imagine all the people sharing all the world.” So, maybe, at least in my own mind, I put the concept of nationalism to rest long ago. My most fervent hope is that nationalism may long rest in peace. Forever would work for me.
Lee, China didn’t just tell people to wash their hands and stay 1.5 meters away from each other. After allowing the epidemic to spread because they silenced whistleblowers like Dr. Li Wenliang, they bolted people inside their homes and beat up people for not wearing face masks in public. (And you think murkinz attacking random Asians “for spreading the virus” was insane?!)
You know how Trump helped exacerbate the pandemic by playing dumb for weeks until it was too late? Well, that’s what China did back in December. And it got the WHO to play along.
Meanwhile, other countries in Asia have been able to control outbreaks in their borders without resorting to draconian measures. We never remotely approached the level of anywhere in the EU or US, let alone in China!
After having caused the pandemic, China still has the nerve to “help” Europe and the US by sending them faulty tests and equipment, and blaming THEM for the virus?! (Blaming the US is understandable — blaming Italy is lower than the deepest depths of the mantle.)
Why people still put any faith in the Chinese Communist Party whatsoever is absolutely mind-blowing.
You need to expand your investigation of who “caused” the virus, and when and where it actually started. Fox news is seldom a reliable source and take the lead in bashing those like China who challenge Empire. I suggest articles by Larry Romanoff that can be found at Global Research. As for “silencing whistleblowers”, the USA gets the gold medal in that regards. Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning are just the tip of the iceberg. Did you know that many government meetings regarding COVID-19 are “classified”? Have you heard of “Event 201”? “Operation Mockingbird”? Why people still put any faith in the democratic or republican party, or the MSM in the USA is “beyond mind-blowing”.
The problem is that metaphor could be applied universally across the entire political ecosystem.
The only objective is optics not anything resembling a measurably positive outcome.
[omg, the irreverant Lee Camp! how delightful.]
welcome to CN, mr camp!
Residing in Europe I can say that, in my opinion, all of Europe made a huge mistake by not implementing “lock down” the moment the first COVID-19 cases made appearance. Europe should have adopted the same stringent (and immediate) measures as did China – perhaps this pandemic would be less severe today. Instead, Europe wastes precious time squabbling because the countries can’t agree on anything.
Keep giving them hell Lee. Stay strong!
“Toxic nationalism” indeed.
H. G. Wells said it best: “Our true nationality is mankind.”
America, unfortunately is badly plagued with both, coronavirus and nationalism.
And on top of those, it has vicious, ignorant thugs serving both as President and Secretary of State,
For whatever reason, reading new Consortium News contributing writer Lee Camp’s humorous article woven with deep philosophy evoked memory of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (1999) “Life Is Beautiful”, with Italian Best Actor recipient Roberto Benigni.
During these difficult times for humanity it becomes equally much more difficult for men and women professional comedians, and all everyday people who naturally enjoy shared laughter, to find the strength for efforts to bring genuine happiness into the lives of others. The generosity of men and women who in times of difficulty choose to persist in the act of happiness creation in others is substantial and deserving of very high appreciation.
The name of the Native American spiritual leader escapes, but his thoughtful and wise philosophical suggestion does not: “The highest use of one’s time is sharing laughter with one’s friends.” … Perhaps Life Is Beautiful, after all. Thank you kindly, Mr. Lee Camp.
Wow, Jerry. Your comments are wonderful. Thank you!
“The virus doesn’t care.” True. But neither does it affect everybody equally. Neither does HIV. The same propaganda is at work here. No mention of the big pharma influence over these large “Hellth” organizations. Ney but a request to pour more into them.
Want some enlightening news authored by Dr. Anthony Fauci in a recent NEJM article? The MSM talking heads and their counterpart comedians will not cover it: http://www.nejm.org
Anyone on this site old enough to remember if we shut multiple countries down over the 1957 and 1968 influenza pandemics?
Basically I don’t disagree with Mr. Le Camp, however I am always disturbed when authors of an article make comments like the one made here, “In fact our buffoon of a president continues to call it “The Chinese Virus” because he’s a very simple-minded man.” I wonder if that’s to tell us he is not one of those deplorables that Trump represents, and he himself belongs in a more sophisticated class. It was an idea I heard expressed by Assange in an interview he did with John Pilger. I think journalist, or people writing on these topics ought to forego these kinds of statements. I find them offensive, and they’re better left unsaid, especially now, because no matter who you are our humanity is one in regard to this virus.
Thank you. I agree with you Annie. For the overall thrust of the article, I say “Bravo!” to Lee Camp. He debunks the ‘sacred’ virtues of patriotism and nationalism for what they are – manifestations of tribalism, racism and exclusivity which mask humanitarianism and make possible the ghastly treatment of our fellows who happen to have been born elsewhere.
However the humour, if that’s the right word, was out of place, extreme, irrational, and just too loud. It detracted from, rather than reinforced, the very important message at the core of the article.
Glad to see you’ve made a solid landing here at Consortium News. I hope the other brave journalists and authors from Truthdig’s striking staff do likewise, whereever they may go.
Yes. And I hope the Striking Truthdig Writers stick together, someplace, somehow, on the internet.
I love this episode your the best lee! You make me feel sane! Keep up the awesome work! I wish everyone would watch your show!
Thank you, Jackie!
I saw a very old cartoon about an opossum. It was called POGO, although I don’t know why. The cartoon line was:
“We have seen the enemy, and he is us.”
That is a classic : I Go POGO was the title, a social commentary basically. Human Nature.
Texas, Ohio and other states are viciously using the COVID-19 epidemic to launch a fullscale attack on women’s ability to get an abortion. Abortion clinics have been ordered to stop providing the procedure on the grounds that it is an “non-essential and elective procedure.”
It is supremely opportunist to use the coronavirus crisis to promote a misogynist right-wing agenda. Clearly, an abortion is not something that can be postponed without severe repercussions. These states have already thrown up hurdles to delay and deny women’s reproductive choices.
Other states are also edging towards defining abortion as an unnecessary medical need. This is a time when resources need to be allocated to the containment of the virus and not the promotion of a capitalist right-wing agenda.
The metaphor of two hamsters licking their asses in Donald’s brain made me laugh uncontrollably.
The problem is that metaphor could be applied universally across the entire political ecosystem.
The only objective is optics not anything resembling a measurably positive outcome.
Mr. Camp, I read this article without knowing who authored it until after I read it. I understood it as only mild satire and took it to be a serious piece. I do not know if I have lost my sense of humor or if your comedy just can’t come through in your writing. You, Jimmy Dore and others are now the news. I used to find him comedic as well. Perhaps as the Four Horsemen have seemed to arrive with a vengeance on all fronts it is just a bit harder to laugh. Satire is nothing more than the truth in drag. Few seem to want the truth these days. Good article sir but I found little humor in it.
I am a big fan of Lee Camp and am happy he’s going to appear here at Consortium News. However, like you, I didn’t laugh at his visualizations as much as in the past. Not sure if it is because reading his material isn’t the same as seeing and hearing him deliver it, I suspect it’s not that, its the times are grim and humor is as hard to conjure these days as toilet paper.
George Carlin would be far too entertained watching us sickly humans receiving our coup de grace to be able to write any more epic material.
You can’t be creative and giving when you’re doubled up 24/7 in laughter-induced seizures.
Actually here is George Carlin, addressing the coronavirus from beyond the grave.
Carlin was the master. Lee should take a look at this.
There are no national borders for Capital, just for Labor. That is Neoliberalism.
From a public health perspective, restricting travel is critical for keeping a pandemic from spreading. I have friends, young friends, who are all for letting nature take its course. If it is as contagious as the experts say, most will catch it. Of course the fatality rate is at least 10-times higher if the medical care is swamped all at once, as has repeatedly happened in Hubei, Italy, Spain etc. There were riots yesterday in China when citizens in Hubei tried to leave their province to enter Jiangxi province, so it’s not just national borders either. I live in a rural area in Virginia and many have noted a huge influx in out of state, mostly NY license plates (obviously people “escaping” or spreading COVID-19, depending on your perspective); locals are saying its time to get out the hunting guns and get rid of the “invaders”, but I think they are joking (but it’s definitely not nationalism, just fear for their families’ and friends’ lives.) Probably the New Yorkers are motivated by Gov Cuomo’s fateful decision Not to buy 16,000 pulmonary respirators five years ago as advocated by NY Public Health department.
Entry of the virus into the US “officially” started in mid January in Washington state. Although idiot Trump had ordered no entry from China, there was no enforcement until the virus was “community spread” (ie, untrackable). This is the critical, crucial step that the Asian countries pick up on. Singapore and others quickly closed entry from China (even though more Chinese visitors come toSingapore than to the US each year). The US dithered because it was “racist”. Actually it was simple good public policy to keep the infected out. (Obviously once out of control, restricting entry is pointless). Notice that Australia, New Zealand and Israel have followed suit, and most Asian countries have imposed a 14 day quarantine for anyone entering abroad. Singapore has had only 732 cases (with only 2 deaths), but will likely be overwhelmed by Singaporeans returning from the US for the free COVID-19 medical care. Even though all will do the required 14 day quarantine, some especially students who are oblivious to mild symptoms will take the much cheaper, packed public transport, and start new infection clusters.
In short, Lee Camp, who I usually enjoy, is wrong. You stop the virus from entering, and you quarantine the infected. Nothing else matters in this situation, particularly life styles or freedom or racism. Asia learned much from the 2009 H1Ni pandemic that killed over 500,000; the US curiously seems incapable of learning?
I think you’re missing the point somewhat. He’s not saying that there shouldn’t be limitations now on travel given Coronavirus. He’s speaking about how the whole notion of nation-states and nationalism has made us suspicious and protective and that sort of rigid thinking has given us a world in which, when nationalism can be used for political ends as it has been by Chinese and American politicians, it has maximum effect because we have bought into our notion of nation-states and differing and very distinct tribes who have different aims.
Lee Camp – Nice to also see you at Consortium News. Welcome!
Yep me to
OMG Mr. Camp,
You have made my day. I have not laughed this hard in days. Thank you. I just love your article.
Thank you Lee. Over from TD and glad to read you here.
Well done. AMERICAN exceptionalism & nationalism have led to viral exponentialism. #CoronaCrisis
This is the very well done article and I thank you Lee camp. As a student of History I’m well aware that nations are new and actually not that important unless you are one of those ultra-wealthy 1%. I know all of this was made up after World War 1 and World War 1 was basically countries wanting to blow each other up excitedly with their new technology wasted lives wasted resources so a couple could get really wealthy. Disgusting! I completely agree with Lee camp as he discusses these issues in this article. Thank you Lee camp.
Unfortunately, I fear the plutocrats are using this to further consolidate their power over mere mortals
“Imagine no countries”
Thanks Lee. Great rant.
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
Lee, you always make me laugh. And right about now, it feels really good to laugh! Thanks, Lee. Truly.
Fair enough, Lee. However comma when the head dog catcher and his henchmen think it’s important to blame somebody for something that no one actually did and sink a diplomatic summit because nobody else would agree with us AND then claim that we were all on the same page, we’re screwed, blued, and tattooed.
A brilliant satirical account of our connavirus predicament by Lee Camp – who manages to educate and entertain with aplomb. Americans have little to be proud of except for great comics like Lee and Jimmy Dore.
“I myself have tried using buddhism, sadomasochism, feudalism, autoerotic asphyxiationism, and antidisestablishmentarianism. They’ve all let me down.”
Agreed, and he has made onto my ‘useful quotations’ document right below these two:
H.L. Mencken: ‘Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.’
Voltaire: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
Thank you Mr. Camp
George Carlin reincarnated with a different political focus.