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.