Singapore (3/3). In light of the mass hysteria that grips the general population we decided to respond to the coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak. First, governments in the region reacted proactively to the virus. US media entered the anti-Chinese, anti-Hong Kong narrative, rapidly descending into a blame it all.
Airline and business went in overdrive and cancelled all flights despite the World Health Organization (WHO) did not see any need for drastic measures. The media amplified the narratives of a global crisis and people in the region made a run on shops. Walk on Singapore streets the once bustling city went into zombie like stand still. Talk to anyone on the airport staff expects to be laid off soon.
In Europe reports emerged to make societies “virus-proof” likely hitting soon hitting similar panic reactions. The political leaders routinely ignore the media outcries of panic and doom. Or is the political leadership correct?
In the fast moving news environment the global media outlets shape the public narrative. Terrorism, what to buy, what environmental disaster is facing us, or we need to have a life without plastic straws, which is ridiculous if you ever tried to drink a soft drink in a moving car without a straw. The planet is dying from forest fires, pollution, overfishing, underfishing, the people are all to blame.
Fears triggered by the media trigger age-old biases, during the cold war it was the Russians, in the 1970s it was the Japanese, now the North Koreans, the Iranians or the Chinese. The fake news industry and fear-mongering narratives are driving our day. Reason and logic has been replaced with rashness and semi-panic.
A staff was asking me, “if we are all ok?”. Taken the fact he lives in one of the most polluted cities in Asia, Jakarta, the floods likely will result in water-borne diseases, the flu likely will kill more in 2020 than the coronavirus, the administration does little to fix the trash, the water quality, the traffic jams, the living conditions for its citizens, the question shows the fears local residents hold standing in stark contrast to reality.
After the run on face-mask it emerged that the masks are neither preventing the spread of virus nor are recommended by doctors. In the Hong Kong riots the manuals for the black bloc rioters were recommending to use face mask to conceal the identity and “fake illness” as a tactic.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN CHINA: China’s total population is 1.4 billion with 78,824 coronavirus cases which is less than 1 percent of the population. There have been 2,700 deaths from coronavirus in China and that is 34 deaths per thousand cases of coronavirus.
FLU CASES IN THE UNITED STATES DURING 2017-2018 WINTER FLU SEASON: The United States’ total population is 330 million with 45 million Flu cases which is 14 percent of the population. There was 61,000 deaths from the flu that year and that is 1.4 deaths per thousand.
A commentator wrote, “I did hear a guy from the CDC say that the coronavirus was 20 times more deadly than the average flu because of the respiratory complications. The deaths per thousand comparison show that. It does seem that coronavirus is not as contagious as the flu, but China has taken extraordinary efforts to control the spread of the disease.”
“I understand why countries are trying so hard to contain the spread. It is a numbers game for the CDC. They have 330 million people in America to protect. If only 2 percent get coronavirus, that is 6.6 million people infected and maybe 200,000 deaths. This does not mean if it comes to the U.S. that we are going to die. I don’t want coronavirus or a flu epidemic. We should not be fearful, but I understand the CDC’s concerns and the quarantine efforts being made.”
So far the data…..
During the Nuremberg trials the Nazi leader Hermann Göring explains how people can be made fearful and to support a war they otherwise would oppose:
“The people don’t want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
Are we entering a new fear-mongering political narrative or is this a sign if societies are ill-equipped to differentiate between what is a real threat to society or the imaginary threat created for political purposes. Water-borne diseases, floods, the common flu are so far more deadlier than Corona.
The Politics of Fear.
Made famous by Bill Durodie and Frank Furedi expert academics argued for a long time that fear is a political weapon. The fear of the mad cow disease, mobile phones, fear of our fellow men and now the Coronavirus. In Hong Kong and now in the United States the corona virus is used for political reasons.
Furedi says that “we need a grown-up discussion about our post-September 11 world, based on a reasoned evaluation of all the available evidence rather than on irrational fears for the future. The links between fears of crime and media output are well examined and the coronavirus is no exception.
In Hong Kong the so-called democratic forces demand from the government to exclude the sick to be given medical aid. The facility earmarked to treat coronavirus suspects was set on fire (!), and the government was threatened with bombings if the administration does not shut down the borders. Lets stop and digest this for a second.
This is a group who uses the extremists dress code from the Black Bloc, fire and arson bombings the freshly renovated Poly U into the ground, built TATP bombs and IEDs to ambush police and plotted to shot up crowds of protesters and blame it on the police. This is the same crowd who has doctors and nurses in the ranks who deny the ill and the sick proper medical treatment committing breaching the hippocratic oath of every medical professional. The threat of denying help to the ill is neither democratic nor humanitarian.
In the United States a similar political gambit is afoot. Whereas the flu gets hardly any attention the fears serve the political discourse against the Trump administration. The narrative suggests the administration is incompetent dealing with the virus and the threat is “underestimated”.