Heroes and Villains

As a virus spreads across the globe we are learning some valuable lessons in pandemic science.

Although the COVID-19 virus indisputably originated within Red China, where it has reportedly taken some 3,400 lives,  Italy has been the hardest hit of any country on earth taking 5,400 souls and rising.  What accounts for this?

Italy took many more test samples than we have, but was slow to lockdown the whole country north to south.  Critics can blame Italian politicians and a national character that bends rules, but that’s a dead-end exercise.  When this is finally over, think tanks can spend a decade determining heroes, villains, and mistakes.  But, if the Communist Party of China and the unsanitary treatment of animals in Chinese culture are not on their agenda, we shall be losing a golden opportunity.

Let me say that I have the deepest respect for the ingenuity and accomplishments of the Han Chinese, and their cuisine is one of my favorites.  But when you tally the number of diseases that have emanated from China over the centuries, generally linked to animal-human contagion, our world cannot ignore this wellspring of pandemics.  I realize the racist implications of singling out one people, but China’s culpability is a cultural failing not a racial or genetic one.  How far must humanity descend towards mass death and economic collapse before discarding political correctness?

The China-Italy connection clearly led to Italy’s current catastrophe.  The Lombardy region, the epicenter of Italy’s pandemic, does the most trade with Red China.  Last January, some right-wing opposition politicians urged the current leftist government to quarantine Chinese-Italian children who were just returning from holiday in Red China.  But Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who recently signed on to Red China’s One Belt One Road pan-economic scheme, declined the suggestion as fear-mongering.  That same month, Italians hosted a Chinese delegation in Rome to encourage more exchanges.

However this virus came from Red China, it has taken advantage of Italian social vulnerabilities.  Italy’s huge elderly population has much in common.  Seventy percent of the dead have been men, perhaps because they smoked all their lives – a traditional vice that weakens the lungs.  Another reason may have something to do with the mammoni factor –  adult children still living with their parents, where they can infect the ones that gave them life.  Or, as one Chinese Red Cross official observed, the Italian government just doesn’t enforce lockdowns efficiently – Communist style.

Hindsight now shows that Italian leaders did not lock down the whole nation fast enough, for fear of ruining tourism as well as the fragile economy.  The U.S. and Europe are using Italy as the bad example.  But they too once thought total lockdown unthinkable.  Blaming leftist Prime Minister Conte or rightist President Trump for being ill-prepared, for slow reactions, and for shortages is easy from the sidelines.  Like the medical workers who are on the frontline, political leaders are just as harried and inexperienced in dealing with this frightening new world.

Italian Americans like Dr. Anthony Fauci and NY Governor Andrew Cuomo are making us proud, as they shoulder the burden of leadership.  In the case of Democrat Cuomo, he has put aside all partisan politics to demonstrate national unity.  He has not only made peace with President Trump but has steered him into new initiatives like mobilizing the Army Corps of Engineers to build hospitals and obtaining a Navy hospital ship for Manhattan.

I recently read of Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s Assistant for Homeland Security.  During the transition between Obama and Trump in 2016-17, Ms. Monaco (in photo) prepared a “war game” for the incoming administration based on a pandemic arriving in the U.S.  This was three years ago!  She tried.  But, shall we play the blame game?  Some folks still blame FDR for Pearl Harbor.

Will there be a cure for COVID-19?  It was a team of Italic scientists led by Dr. Robert Gallo who found the inhibitors to control HIV in 1995.  Italian doctor Carlo Urbani was the first to identify the Chinese-born SARS virus in 2003 – he died of it later.

Perhaps, our people will produce a hero to defeat this plague. -JLM

3 thoughts on “Heroes and Villains”

  1. I just finished watching Governor Andrew Cuomo on C-Span at his daily press conference in Albany. Though he lacks his late father’s wit and very public Italian pride, he did inherit Mario’s commanding use of language.

    Similarly, my non-Italian friends keep remarking to me how impressed they are by Dr. Fauci, a model of calm and intelligence (though neither are a surprise to those of us who’ve followed Fauci’s distinguished career). And Speaker Nancy Pelosi did an excellent job on PBS explaining the ramifications of the soon-to-be-passed (we hope) government relief bill to workers. She, too, like Cuomo and Fauci, were raised in nearly 100% Italian American families—the same Italic families, as we know, whom Hollywood continually mocks as mobbed-up or moronic.

    If and when we survive this crisis, it will be thanks to people like them. And, if Hollywood makes a film about the Coronavirus, want to bet that these
    real-life Italian American heroes will have their names changed to another ethnicity?

  2. For those who may not have seen this video, please take a few minutes to do so. It shows how Italians are dealing with the Coronavirus virus and lock-down by engaging in “flash mobs” singing and playing music from their balconies. As one person said “Italians will beat the crisis with their music and culture”, and another talks about how this experience has drawn Italians together. Maybe we can all learn something from them.


  3. I have been exchanging e-mails with friends in Italy about the coronavirus. I asked one, Alessandro Ubiali, a chemist who works in a hospital in Piacenza, as does his doctor wife, why he thought his region, Lombardia, was hit harder than anywhere else.

    His response:

    “We’re also wondering why the virus hit so hard here. According to the experts, which, to be honest, are probably just guessing, there are three possible explanations.

    “The first is linked to the virus being possibly mutated towards a more aggressive behavior. Gene sequencing is in due course to confirm this.

    “The second is that the virus acted on an old, numerous population concentrated in a relatively small area like Pianura Padana.

    “The third is indirectly linked to the second: We’re in one of the most polluted places in the world, and nanoparticles can be a vector amplifying the contagion. More, high pollution means that people get old, but most of our elderly are not in good health; and co-morbidity plays a crucial role in mortality.

    “Of course, it can be a combination of the three factors, and/or there are plenty of asymptomatic positives around, and we didn’t traced them.

    “Maybe I am one of them, working in a hospital where 15% of the medical staff has been verified as positive. But the policy is, if you feel good you have to go to work. That’s why isolating people at home won’t work, unless you test the population more extensively.

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