Thursday, May 21, 2009

Live and Left Die

By Chip Tsao | published May 21, 2009

A global pandemic threatens public safety, but it can also bring about unexpected side effects—for example, it’s cleansing the world of another virus; a virus called political correctness. The term “Mexican Swine Flu,” thanks to the local scare-mongering press, is now a name as popular as “KFC” among Hong Kong children. The Hong Kong SAR government imprisoned more than one hundred protesting tourists, mostly westerners, in the Metropark Hotel, a weird scene reminiscent of a Warsaw ghetto. On the day of his release, a Korean businessman most likely in the final stages of Stockholm Syndrome declared in tears, “Long live Hong Kong!”

American medical experts claimed that it was genetic differences that left the Mexican nation more prone to swine flu. Yet there wasn’t a word of protest from human rights groups condemning this racism.

As Hong Kong and China shiver in the face of this Sars-like end-of-the-world phantasm, the United States treats it as a childish cry-wolf farce with New Yorkers impudently walking the streets mask-free. A request from the Hong Kong SAR government begging the Obama administration to take “responsible measures” was met with a cold shoulder.

This understatement conceals a Darwinian message: We Americans, consisting mostly of what can be referred to as WASPS, are a physically fitter race. We refuse to wear masks over this fuss, just as easily as we can jog comfortably in the streets in only a T-shirt on a breezy winter day of 8 degree Celsius, while a Chinese, Singaporean or Vietnamese person would have to wrap themselves in scarves, jumpers and jackets. It is the United States, not a Chinese woman from Hong Kong appointed the chief of the WHO, who determines how fatal a pandemic is. Like it or not, we don’t give a shit about swine flu.

With more than 4,500 passengers arriving in Hong Kong from the US every day, the Hong Kong Chinese media has angrily accused the Americans of “exporting poison to the world.” Compared with the export of Maoism in the 1970s, which has impoverished or subverted countries such as Cambodia or Peru with diseases like the Khmer Rouge or the Shining Path, one can argue that this swine flu pandemic from the States is relatively benign. What can we do in response anyway?
A boycott of all Hollywood blockbusters this summer?

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