Global pandemics make stupid people even stupider
Every day that this swine flu crisis continues,* conservative reactions in particular promise to get more and more crazy. Yesterday, they were blaming the swine flu on Kathleen Sebelius’s program of mandatory abortions, and now the mere fact of having a Democratic President brings swine flu to America, according to Michelle Bachmann.
“I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president Jimmy Carter,” said Bachmann. “And I’m not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.”
There’s no such thing as a non-causal “interesting coincidence”, of course. Since right wing Republicans are adept at speaking in dog whistles, Bachmann is winking at the Christian right that believes that disease and disaster are punishment for sin. In this case, she’s quite clear that the nation sinned in electing Obama over McCain, and god is delivering his swine flu punishment. Hey, it’s not a terrorist attack, but it’ll do. I’d be curious to find out if this strategy of promising divine punishment to intimidate the flock to vote as they’re told is something new in American history, or it’s been a feature of past resurgences of fundamentalism. I’m currently reading Susan Jacoby’s admittedly uneven book The Age of American Unreason, where she tracks the history of this sort of thing, so I’ll be interested to find out.
I don’t know about the political leanings of Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman of Israel, but I’m going to go ahead and slap him with the “religious moron” card for this asinine statement.
The outbreak of swine flu should be renamed “Mexican” influenza in deference to Muslim and Jewish sensitivities over pork, said an Israeli health official Monday.
Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman said the reference to pigs is offensive to both religions and “we should call this Mexican flu and not swine flu,” he told a news conference at a hospital in central Israel.
One wonders why they might call something like the swine flu the “swine flu”. Might it be because it comes from…..pigs? Yes, I do believe that’s the reason. It’s not for certain that this swine flu comes from pigs, but it’s got the same proteins that show up in other swine flus, thus it’s a strong possibility.
Consider that the area where the pandemic is thought to have originated is absolutely swimming in pig shit and carcasses from the nearby Smithfield factory farm. Consider that journalists have chronicled how unsanitary the conditions of the factory are (beware, you don’t want to look at these pictures if you’re eating anything). Consider that brand-new vegetarian diet while also considering the ocean of pig shit and decaying pig flesh that the children who are the main victims of the flu have been exposed to.
Like Bachmann said, interesting coincidence. But not a supernatural one.
*One of the outbreaks is really close to here, which means both that hypochondria is setting in and every newstand you pass has headlines like “Still No Swine Flu In The City, Chill The Fuck Out”.