The health situation in Italy is dire. Tragically, over 8,000 people have died, and around 80,000 people have caught COVID-19, giving it the second highest number of cases outside of China. The question is, what caused this to be the case?
Back in February, Dr Jing Zeng wrote in The Guardian that there was no link whatsoever between COVID-19 and The People’s Republic of China. And those who dared to suggest that there was were guilty of #CoronaRacism.
As such, many in the mainstream media have followed the explanation of Matt Simon in Wired, who argued that there was no intercultural link at all, and that it was simply because Italy has the second-oldest population on Earth. But as Marcus Roberts responded in MercatorNet:
However, this doesn’t fully explain Italy’s predicament. The oldest country in the world is Japan, and it has managed to keep the number of infections and deaths to quite low levels.
So, what did Italy do that Japan didn’t? Well, the blame should probably be laid with progressive politicians who—under the guise of combatting racism—unwittingly facilitated the virus spreading throughout the entire Italian population. As Ellen Whinnett explains in The Daily Telegraph:
The first cases were detected in Italy on January 29 when two Chinese tourists fell ill in Rome. They had flown into Milan on a tour on January 23.
The diagnoses prompted Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to immediately announce a ban on flights from China – the first country to do so – and declare a six-month state of emergency.
But there was squeamishness from some quarters about the tough action, and the Mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, launched a “hug a Chinese’’ day on February 1, calling for “unity in the common battle’’ and decrying racism against Chinese people in Italy.
The move prompted Italians to hug Chinese people in the northern Italian city and post images on social media.
Italy is now suffering one of the worst coronavirus tragedies on the planet, with around 80,000 infections, and 8215 people have died, giving the country a death rate of around 10 per cent. More people have died in Italy than in China.
The mayor of Florence, Italy, @DarioNardella initiated “hug a Chinese” on Twitter on Feb 1, opposing anger toward China amid the #nCoV2019 outbreak, and calling for “Unity in this common battle!” Many Italian netizens responded by posting photos of themselves with Chinese. pic.twitter.com/LutXfPyXc7
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) February 4, 2020
This is sadly what happens when identity politics trumps common sense. There’s never any excuse for abusing people from another country merely because of their ethnicity. What’s more, as can be seen here, there are some incredible examples of courage and faith being demonstrated by Italian people on the front lines of the fight.
But it’s not racist to identify a certain disease as coming from a particular part of the world. (As this piece from The Federalist demonstrates, there are a plethora of diseases named after the places in which they originated). And as we’ve seen, it’s also not racist to protect the borders of one’s country from any potential threat from the outside.
Because as we’re seeing, the alternative is not only irrational, but ultimately, deadly.