The Racism Behind the Covid Lab Leak Theory
And everyone — including President Joe Biden — who are keeping this awful conspiracy alive are taking part in a long tradition of sinophobic orientalism.
Let’s cut to the chase of what is really going on here: The government of the United States of America allowed nearly 600,000 Americans— possibly over 900,000 — to die because the richest nation on Earth couldn’t be bothered to just copy Australia and New Zealand and figure out how to beat Covid-19.
This brutal abdication of responsibility has proven America’s democracy to be a bitter joke, a cruel sham that allows a powerful, wealthy, well-connected few to exploit and destroy people in pursuit of even more wealth, power, and connections.
And America’s leaders cannot stand the fact that anyone who bothers to follow international news can discover the awful truth with ease: America’s leaders don’t care about its people, they don’t care about human rights or freedom, they only care about protecting their power and privilege.
China’s return to global prominence poses an existential threat to the entire myth of America these self-serving money grubbers have relied on for centuries to get away with oppression and murder. The fact that the United States is not the world’s indispensable nation, only paid attention to these days because it spends inordinate sums on a military that can’t figure out how to win wars against insurgents, much less a peer competitor, irks the American power elite on either side of the political divide to their core.
Trouble is they’re mostly racists, as much as they publicly pretend to care about Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate. Anti-Chinese racism is baked deep into the beliefs of America’s governing and chattering classes, especially among the East Coast social elite who have peddled the “model minority” myth for generations.
Orientalism, as Edward Said termed it, is alive and thriving in American intellectual circles. This is a habit, deeply ingrained into the thinking of people who see themselves as part of the mythic “Western” world, of automatically assuming dishonest intent whenever a non-white person communicates.
Scions of the West believe only they are capable of doing true, unbiased science. All other cultures are lacking some critical ingredient and so science done outside the Western paradigm is suspect.
As a result, Asians, Muslims, Black and Indigenous people don’t get to tell their own stories. Their history and beliefs are always viewed through the “Western” lens which itself is actually a narrow philosophical position lacking any true empirical foundation.
And the same holds true for science, with Chinese sources automatically discounted in the United States.
Orientalism is one of the foundation stones holding white supremacy together, and far from being the province of conservative or right-wing pundits it is also at the core of most liberal left thinking too. It gives a subset of humanity — disproportionately white men from a secure financial background — an implied social right to lay claim to science itself.
The truth about science is that no matter how you slice it, there is some degree of subjectivity involved. People who claim science is about discovering objective truth are selling a philosophical and political position that can’t be substantiated using scientific means.
Science is really about developing ever-more reliable explanations about reality according to a set of rules and procedures designed to allow people — not just scientists — to evaluate the evidence and draw their own conclusions. Some people — and especially highly educated wealthy folks in any culture — always see the benefit in trying to claim control of some aspect of the process.
In the United States, many of them have an outsized role in shaping public perceptions of science through the mass media. With politicization becoming so extreme, this means that people believe the science relayed to them by trusted members of their community, however they define that.
Science has become another tool in every American public figure’s political arsenal. That is why the lab-leak hypothesis got started in the first place, and why it is coming back right now, fueled by a minority of scientists like Fauci who are massaging language about Covid-19’s origins and the World Health Organization report on it to lend apparent scientific weight to what is really a naked political ploy.
The hard, physical science that exists points to a single conclusion so obvious and boring it is perfectly normal to have trouble accepting it, given Covid-19’s horrific global impact:
Covid-19 almost certainly jumped from one or more animal species to humans, incubating and evolving in a remote population somewhere in rural South Asia before an infected person brought it to the city of Wuhan.
The lines of evidence supporting this are so incredibly powerful that questioning it is on the level of questioning the reality of the Moon landing — sure, none of us has personal experience enough to verify, but the diversity of signals confirming it almost certainly did is compelling:
- Coronaviruses are common and do this all the time. Covid-19 is basically an evolved form of SARS, which terrified everyone almost 20 years ago but fortunately couldn’t spread as fast. A cousin, MERS, hit the Middle East around 10 years ago. Patterns in nature tend to repeat for a reason: underlying structural processes similar everywhere.
- Covid-19 variants are pretty much all evolving along a continuum where they become more infectious as their spike protein gets better at grabbing onto ACE-2 receptors in the human body. More infectious strains are out-competing less-infectious ones because humans have created exactly the right ecological circumstances — constant low-level spread — to promote this.
- Wuhan is one of the most densely-populated parts of the planet, but also surrounded by rural areas where people are often in contact with animals and keep large numbers of animals in close quarters, which helps respiratory viruses spread. It also happens to be a major international travel node like many rising urban areas that didn’t always have this level of connection with the rest of the planet.
- Covid-19 is a sneaky bugger that doesn’t show symptoms in everyone it infects and can incubate silently for days. These symptoms match that of the common cold or a flu for most people who catch it — until it spreads and begins attacking ACE-2 receptors all over the body, including the brain and other major organs. Worse, you often don’t know it is circulating in the community (unless actively testing) until large numbers of people start showing up in the hospital with “flu-like symptoms.”
- A small outbreak in October or November of 2019 coincides with the onset of the normal flu and cold season. A new virus spreading undetected in certain neighborhoods would allow a few people — including scientists at the Wuhan Virology Institute — to get sick before anyone realized anything was wrong. The Chinese government was reluctant to admit the problem until it was obvious a new virus was loose — but so were governments in Europe and America whose own populations were spreading the virus by early January.
The bottom line is that there is just too much mutually-supporting evidence indicating a typical cause for this Coronavirus pandemic to be anything but deeply skeptical of the lab-leak hypothesis. As authoritarian as China’s government is, even a hint of a laboratory breach would have generated a much faster response. The simple fact Beijing didn’t begin moving hard to contain Covid-19 by shutting down virtually the entire economy — at great cost and risk — is a further piece of evidence against the lab-leak nonsense.
But science is never 100% certain, so if you want to see a devious Chinese government’s hand in Covid-19, you can. And there will always be scientists who for reasons of career, money, or ideology who will say the right words to lend credence to your bullshit.
So why is this racist theory being peddled again? Check the source that sparked the newest round of conspiracy-mongering: the Wall Street Journal, citing sources in the United States Intelligence community.
Now where have I heard that one before?
Oh yeah — 2002, in the run-up to the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq. There were WMDs, the Intel reports cried, mobile biological weapons labs and secret sarin factories and even yellowcake uranium!
About that, if you aren’t old enough to remember… they lied. Because George W. Bush wanted a big beautiful war and the head of Saddam Hussein after failing to get Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. An event that remains the fount from which so much of America’s present unending political crisis flowed.
America’s leaders lie a lot. About their motives, their beliefs, their plans — and when it is necessary to go to war.
They get away with it because a great many people in the American media — the institution supposedly responsible for checking abuses of power — is owned by members of a social class that likes the way things are and values its connections to the halls of power.
Joe Biden is playing a ruthless and ultimately self-destructive political game, pandering to conspiracy-mongers to bolster his credentials as a “tough” leader.
Democrats of a certain age are as obsessed with being seen as tough. They remain wounded by the success of the “soft-on-communism” slanders that made the 1980s Ronald Reagan’s decade, more worried about that than the fact they’ve spent a generation or more promising to help Black and Latino Americans but utterly failing to do anything meaningful.
They are also uniquely incapable of honest self-reflection, which is why 70-somethings who were alive before the internet are able to believe they will make the best leaders in a world defined by the internet.
Joe Biden, facing the complete collapse of global respect for the United States that resulted from Trump’s term and near-unity among Republicans who are all-but certain to retake the House in the midterms and then block any legacy-making moves he tries to make, is leaning into racist anti-China Orientalism. A cheap ploy to look bipartisan by bashing China is right up the alley of a political hack like Biden who adores playing the used car salesman scam on everyone he can.
No serious, sane person trusts intelligence from American sources anymore. And the best scientific explanation for the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic is, as is typically the case, the simplest.
But desperate to maintain the media-backed myth of Biden being FDR 2.0, his boosters are jumping on this newest sad gambit. Anxious to deflect attention from the fact he isn’t doing anything meaningful to honor the memory of George Floyd by pushing back against police violence, committed to portraying a dangerously bifurcated, K-shaped economic recovery and looming inflation pressures, incapable of stopping Putin from annihilating Ukraine or whenever he chooses, Biden is jumping on the anti-China bandwagon.
Another cowardly, racist trick from an old con-man who is only President because he and his backers deliberately went after Kamala Harris when she dared to violate the most critical of liberal taboos:
Never, ever imply that an old white person is racist, even if they are. Especially a liberal. The allegation is kryptonite, and they will make you pay for it, even if a large number actually are bigots.
Hence Harris being assaulted from all sides back in 2019 and forced to leave the Democratic Primary before a single vote was cast. She broke the cardinal rule of Democrats, and even now is still being made to pay, given crappy roles within the administration and forced to build a relationship based on being Biden’s loyal subordinate.
It’s a good reminder of who Joe Biden truly is — his finger-wagging lecture of Rashida Tlaib when she dared to question his Israel policy is another excellent reminder. The media reported mostly on his later remarks — but it you look closely, it was clear he was “telling her the business.”
That’s what white men of his age do when you question them. They praise you in public, but they make sure to let you know not to cross them again.
Racism runs deep among American liberals, whose inability to come to grips with it is a big part of what is steadily driving the nation into a second civil war, why Trump improved his standing among Black and Latino voters despite all the Democratic party’s rhetoric and their lip-service to Progressives.
The Covid-19 lab leak hypothesis is a racist smear against China deployed for the most banal political reasons. And it is part and parcel of the despicable anti-Asian hate rising in America.