As published at Veterans Today and Unz Review, 4/10/20:
This is the third installment of Coronavirus Missives, a series in which I survey people in various countries about this emergency. Though I believe there is a global health crisis, most of my respondents think it’s just a giant hoax to enable increasingly totalitarian governments to shackle, cripple or even kill them. None of them knows anyone who’s infected, much less hospitalized or killed, by this disease.
A friend writes from Brighton, England, “Unz is overall disappointing on this score, I think. Few seem to see it as totally manufactured. How could literally EVERY single terrorist attack on and since 911 be phony, yet not this? It’s inconceivable. Plus, we get some news today like 650-odd people died in the UK in the past day. Really? And so many hundred the day before and before that. Yet I know of a guy who thinks he had it along with his two neighbor ladies, they're all fine now of course. But we know a ton of people around here, and no one so far has a friend of a friend of a friend who has died. So where are all those dead bodies? Why aren’t there lists published with addresses?”
There’s a range of analyses at Unz, and Ron himself is convinced the coronavirus is a bioweapon unleashed by the US against China. To flesh out this argument, there’s a most interesting article at Unz by Whitney Webb and Raul Diego, “All Road Leads to Dark Winter.” Many of the evil characters that orchestrated, lied about and/or benefited from the Anthrax attack of 2001 are also key to Uncle Sam’s responses to the coronavirus. If this Grim Reaper is allowed to boomerang, it must mean scores of dead Americans were tallied in.
The Anthrax attack was shriekingly blamed on Muslims, with “extreme-right ‘Aryan’ militants” also fingered. Enraged by these false indictments, we’re not supposed to notice that many of the accusers, now thoroughly discredited, were Jews. Can’t even say the word, man, in any context but abject praising!
Meanwhile, morgues overflow and billions are prevented from just being themselves. In Cuenca, Ecuador, whores can’t even provide a much-needed relief valve, although they have offered to wear masks and gloves.
Mary, a 67-year-old licensed vocational nurse, living in Lucerne, CA
I live in a northern Kali county that skews poor/old. Lots of Trump supporters which doesn’t particularly gear me up—all usausa politicians are monsters so for me Trump is just another evil clown doing the bidding of the Evil Ones of our corporate state.
One neighbor I’m fond of whose TrumpLove has provided some amusement, has gone nasty on me and my husband. Husband, because he lives in San Francisco Which Is To Blame For Everything. Me? Two reasons. First, I responded with laughter when he said, “Socialism is the worst!”
“Tell that to the Rich,” I said. “They certainly have Class Solidarity and get all the goodies while we peasants fight among ourselves.”
He hasn’t talked to me since. I sent him a text offering face masks (he and his wife are very vulnerable) which only made him furious.
I get dirty looks now from him and the other neighbors who got the same offer. Since I’m a nurse and still working, I wear a face mask when shopping. The reaction of my fellow ’murcans is distressing. The fear and anger this simple act has generated is astonishing even other licensed medical professionals seem taken aback when I show up in this elementary protection.
Hostility to “outsiders,” in our case shoppers from Santa Rosa (a two-hour drive) who tried to raid our local supermarkets, is growing intense. I admit to feeling this hostility too—our half-deserted, depressed little town is suddenly packed with the panicked owners of long-abandoned homes—cramming one, two, and even three families into one house.
These “second homers” are a nasty bunch and their presence not appreciated. If “lock-down” continues, if life in usausa continues to degrade (even more!), I worry my home/garden will be raided and all of us living here murdered. We’re among the few who bothered to grow food and actively forage, and we have a well. Having been a serious student of history, I’ve no illusions about human behavior.
What will life be like in another year? Impossible to say, but I don’t see any silver lining in this, except for the disgusting rich, who’ll get to enjoy more power, money, and the ability to destroy, even as they slide into oblivion like the rest of us.
Sean, a 52-year-old American who divides his time between North Carolina and Brazil. He’s a blog agency content writer while overseas and alarm technician in the US
My favorite hobby is dancing, and now that’s impossible. Other than that, there hasn't been much change. I’ve been making my way on the fringes of the economy for a long time, so I don't need to adjust my “business model.”
As for the situation in my city, it’s A Tale of Two Cities. I was in Natal, Brazil, until the end of March. Brazilians had seemed vaguely leery of virus for a few weeks until everything started shutting down, and then panic started to set in.
It was a rather creepy transformation. Brazilians are always in each other’s personal space and hug and kiss throughout the day. They can walk past piles of garbage on the street without batting an eye. Once the television started to generate panic, they suddenly became hyper-conscious of germs. Very strange!
They're more superstitious than Americans (Macumba is mainstream), so they began to regard COVID-19 as some sort of an evil spirit. Instead of protecting themselves with a rosary around their neck and holy water, they put a thin cloth mask over their mouths and purify themselves with hand sanitizer. Most of them seem confident that this will protect them.
I was staying at a small middle-class apartment building near the beach. My flat was next door to the building owner, and we shared more than a few drinks together. Usually a very laid-back guy, he became obsessed with fear regarding the virus. I dreaded emerging from my hovel each morning because I knew a lecture on virus prevention awaited me. He’s endowed the virus with so much power that if he were to test positive, I don’t think he would last 72 hours.
I had told him several times that I didn’t believe one word of the virus story, but he could never accept it. He began to drink daily and heavily. Soon everyone on our floor and neighbors from downstairs were eating and drinking all day long right in front of my door. The virus only existed outside our gated castle. Everyone was out of work, and cold beer with loud music seemed the best way to forget their troubles.
Like many of the locals, I suffered from chest congestion. Whether it was from some pollutant, pollen, or just the humidity, I couldn’t say. However, it always got worse after I had been drinking. I was prompted several times each day to have a drink with them. Each time I had to explain that I was trying to catch a flight back home. If I showed up at the airport sneezing or coughing, either they wouldn’t let me on the plane, or I might get sent to a military base once I arrived in America. “Of course.” They said. “Just sit and have one beer.”
That attitude is what I love about Brazil, but the stakes were just too high. I remained a sober stick in the mud for the last ten days I was there.
Since arriving in Asheville, NC, I haven’t found anything surprising. As of yet, I haven't seen anyone wearing a mask in public, but it looks like the CDC will soon be recommending them. Ample personal space was already part of the American culture, so we don’t have to make any adjustments there. Stuck at home most of the time, I don’t have contact with enough people to make any sweeping judgments on the area as a whole.
The “crisis” is nothing more nor less than the first global voodoo spell. Every scientist knows that voodoo works; that’s why they have double-blind placebo studies. No scientist knows how a virus operates. Nobody has ever seen a live virus much less seen them act in a human body. I could go on, but if you want to learn from the best, check out www.nomorefakenews.com
The voodoo spell will continue until they develop a vaccine. However, before that happens, we’ll seamlessly blend into the next crisis. Whether it’s war, another pandemic, or aliens from outer space, I have no idea. The “prudent caution” of our confederate generals have kept us from fighting an enemy that can fight back so far, so let’s hope it stays that way.
A year from now in Asheville, NC? I don’t know. However, Trump promised to bring the jobs back home, so I would expect Asheville to eventually migrate from the micro-brewery and dog-grooming economy back to the textile mills and furniture manufacturing of the 1990s.
As for Natal, Brazil, I expect it to eventually return to what it was like in the 1990s (sleepy state capital with limited tourism). It’s already in a state of decay, so this will only expedite the process.
“When you believe in things
That you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way.”
Javad Arabshirazi, a journalist for the Tasnim News Agency, living in Tehran, Iran
The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is now under full control in Iran as the government has made great advances in the diagnosis and treatment of the viral infection. Over 67 million people have been screened so far. Certainly, the crisis, like in many other countries around the world, has affected our lives but people, by reducing their social interactions, telecommuting, and continuing to stay home, are helping stop the outbreak.
Public transportation is not down across Iran due to the outbreak of the virus. However, Iranians are not using bus, subway, train, etc. The government has introduced social and physical distancing measures. The measures include travel restrictions and school closures. Supermarkets are open and people can easily go and get their stuff. We are facing no shortages here.
You know well that US sanctions in the past years have affected our economy more than anything else. So the situation is not something new to us. The sanctions have taught us how to manage things in the time of crises. So we are managing the situation; we know how to deal with this. I am certain that the situation will get better in the coming months. I keep my fingers crossed for all people around the globe who are suffering from this contagious disease.
Marco Giovenale, a poet, editor and translator, living in Rome
I feel a bit depressed and it’s not so easy to reply about the situation right now, I must confess. I’ve always been fond of staying at home and working online, but I must admit that what has happened with the virus goes way beyond anything I could have imagined.
Life has changed a lot, due to the fear of the disease; due to the limits we of course have (and want) to respect; due to the rhythms of everyday life; due to the constant presence of our family duties, in an apartment of 60 square meters. I work at night, night has been good to me—always—since I was a little boy.
The southwest of Rome where I live (Monteverde) is one of the safest in the city, some say. It seems like my family have gotten used to staying locked in, but several friends I see or read online, here and in other cities, just can’t stand the very idea of isolation. They obsessively talk and write about that. Nevertheless, they seem to follow the rules. For now.
The government has made many mistakes, of course. But on top of my worries about the disease is how it will affect Italy’s fragile economy. I try not to think about the simple fact that Italy mostly lives on culture and tourism. People have quickly run away from here, and I’m sure they will avoid this country for months and months.
I can’t (or don’t dare) figure out the permanent effects of this complex crisis. I think it will last many months, if a vaccine or cure won’t soon be found.
I can’t imagine my country a year from now, but I’m sure we will see many shipwrecks, when the pitch-black sea recedes.
Juan Rodriguez, a 27-year-old aspiring farmer living in rural Nayarit, Mexico
My life has not been affected by this crisis too much. Prices have gone up but not enough to push anyone into poverty, the government has suspended a lot of services, people can’t get or renew their voter ID (the main form of ID in Mexico). My village gets a lot of diaspora returnees for holy week, but since the border is closed they are not coming back, even people who live in Mexico’s big cities are not returning to their home villages. If I was catholic there would be no more church services, instead mass is now broadcasted on the radio. If I worked in the tourism industry things would be bad. If I worked in a business that continues to receive a lot of U. S dollars, things would be good. The dollar has risen considerably. In January it was 18 pesos for a dollar and now it is 24 pesos for a dollar. No shortages to report of here. If I was a student or a teacher, I would not be going to school or on the job (for all schools).
Things here in rural Nayarit are pretty normal. But I have heard that things are pretty quiet and slow in the cities. I live in a small rural pacific tropical state. So I suspect the disease will not have much of an impact here. But Mexico is a very mountainous country so maybe other parts are struggling. The government puts out public service announcements about coronavirus (wash your hands, cough into your elbow, no more greeting through hugging or kisses etc.), but it seems unnecessary for here in Nayarit. But maybe cooler, densely populated places with bad air quality such as Mexico City need it. The government has also dedicated military hospitals and staff to tackle this disease.
Some background on my village: It is about 2000 people large. The only communication is by cellphones, and cell coverage is sparse. The village is a typical migrant home village, that is to say many people born here have left (about 80% of my parent’s and my own generation with no sign of it stopping with future generations) and some here are only here because of deportation. Even those who live here often work seasonally as agricultural workers in the U.S with work visas (they are called ‘contratados’). Well, the contratados are usually in the U.S or Canada for 6 to 9 months, the ones I know work in tobacco.
Despite the village being rural, the people are well traveled, even the older generation. Older folks typically have taken trips to see their children in the U.S. and have some experience working as migrant laborers.
The impact coronavirus has had here is minimal. The contratados had already left and don’t return for months. Coronavirus isn’t even discussed. Although popular restaurants in the towns have shutdown and now do only delivery, people are more annoyed or skeptical than worried. On a recent trip to the supermarket (in a town about 30km away), the PA system would announce every 10 minutes that we should keep our distance and use hand sanitizer. While this was happening, an employee stocking shelves decided to share his opinion that coronavirus doesn't exist.
Chatting with a woman in her 70’s, I asked if her contratado son had been affected and she said no, but she did say she heard coronavirus was a bioweapon and that explains why I it is so strong. I have no clue where she could have gotten that idea. She has no internet and all the mainstream media here doesn’t say such things.
The largest disruption has been to education. Children like my nieces and nephews in Tijuana are doing online classes, but such solutions are not feasible for rural students. Some schools did give out schoolwork packets but others have not. There is also no hoarding or runs on banks here.
Coronavirus just isn’t impacting us rural folks, with the exception of preventing visits from family who have moved away. Coronavirus news does dominate the national news programs, but locally it is not on people's minds. Here most work is agricultural and informal (paid in cash and no benefits), so no sudden spike of unemployment. Bad weather leading to crop failures would be devastating but so far there has been none of that. Hopefully the world recovers soon; many grandparents want to see their grandchildren.
Which segues into what worries me about the crisis and its future impact. First my worry is that the U.S might start a war against China (hyper-idiotic) or, what seems to be setting up, a war against Venezuela (idiotic but follows from the logic that a war can boost government legitimacy and pull the economy out of the corona gutter, plus the unstated assumptions that soldiers are pawns, Venezuela has no sovereignty and the suffering incurred by war will only affect pawns and recalcitrant brown people).
I was pretty disappointed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador giving into the coronavirus hype, he was dismissive at first. My preferred approach would have been the herd immunity method.
I have no clue how long the effects of coronavirus will last. It is as easy to imagine the governments of the world lifting all quarantines by mid April as it is to imagine an extended quarantine that will for sure end in a peacetime or wartime economic depression.
The Chinese have sent Mexico aid, which is great. I am a huge fan of China and hope for better China-Mexico relations.
A year from now, if the government is smart it will try to move away from the U.S sphere of influence into another, maybe even head a Latin American attempt at regional autonomy. The future is really unpredictable but I suspect life here in the village will remain the same.
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
As published at Veterans Today and Unz Review, 4/10/20:
- Linh Dinh
- Born in Vietnam in 1963, I lived mostly in the US from 1975 until 2018, but have returned to Vietnam. I've also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), a novel, Love Like Hate (2010), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), and six collections of poems, with a Collected Poems apparently cancelled by Chax Press from external pressure. I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in Tokyo, London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.