China Doesn't Deserve Our Judgement
Americans are always "that guy."
Americans are almost celebrating the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in China right now. Experts are predicting the current super-wave of Covid could ultimately kill millions this coming year. Beneath these conservative estimates, some consultants and risk analysts are predicting a far higher causality rate, because they’re taking into account the full picture of hospital collapse. I don’t think even the grimmest doomsayers want to paint this portrait.
It’s still sinking in.
Western media seem to be treating it as some kind of moral victory, a vindication of our own “let it rip” approach, which has cost millions of lives when you include the devastating toll of Long Covid as well as the “mysterious” sudden deaths now plaguing younger demographics. Economists estimate that our failures will “cost America as much as $3.7 trillion.”
So, not a victory.
In some ways, it’s human nature to project your shortcomings onto someone else while looking for distractions. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now with China. Politicians and pundits are all too happy to point at “Zero Covid” as a failure, when the truth is that their own Covid policies have set us up for economic ruin. Plus, it just makes them awful people.
Americans seem to forget that China supplies a huge portion of the world’s raw and finished goods. They manufacture most of our consumer electronics and appliances. They make our drugs. There’s no way China’s suffering doesn’t spill onto the rest of us. I hate to say it, but the western world had this coming.
They asked for it.
A large portion of the public seems blissfully unaware of the fallout we’re about to experience. It probably won’t hit them until they need something and it’s not there. That seems to be the American way.
There’s a lot of arguments circulating right now to somehow justify the current inimical stance toward China.
At best, they’re flawed.
Here they are:
“The lockdowns violated human rights.”
The average white, middle-class American has never suffered human rights abuses, not even at the height of the pandemic. They got irritated at having to wear masks and order takeout. They complained about gaining weight.
Most of these points don’t hold up.
They aren’t human rights abuses.
Americans have greatly exaggerated the impact of our so-called lockdowns. For example, a Harvard study found that only 10 percent of Americans gained more than 12 pounds during the worst part of the pandemic. True, it was rough giving up our gym routines. We found other ways to stay fit.
We rediscovered walking.
We ate healthier.
American institutions and mainstream media have invented a wide range of reasons to detest lockdowns, ranging from “immunity debt” to “learning loss.” Data debunks every single one of these claims.
Americans are violating human rights.
As a rule, Americans are very quick to judge the human rights abuses of other countries, while white-washing our own.
The CDC estimates that 61 million Americans have a disability. Recent studies have shown that we don’t even know exactly how many immunocompromised and immunosuppressed Americans there are. The American Medical Association puts the number at around 3 percent, at least 9 million.
So basically, a lot of Americans shouldn’t be getting exposed to Covid-19 over and over. Every time, it risks their life.
Many of them die.
Roughly a quarter of Americans are still taking significant precautions around Covid. They would be safer with mask policies and better ventilation. Most schools and businesses have neglected or refused these accommodations. Let’s repeat that last part. They’re refusing accommodations.
Those are human rights violations.
Politicians and corporate media have convinced the public that the lives of their vulnerable friends, family, and colleagues don’t matter. If they’re at risk, they’ve been told to stay home indefinitely.
They’ve been dehumanized.
They’re in lockdown.
Everyone tells them it’s their choice to stay home, but is it? Are Americans respecting their rights by making them choose between living and constantly risking their lives, in order to accommodate mask fragility?
What kind of choice is that?
It’s a fair question.
“Lockdowns don’t work.”
China has proven that lockdowns work. You can criticize how the lockdowns were conducted. You can’t deny that they virtually eradicated Covid. Meanwhile, western countries made almost no effort.
If China practiced Zero-Covid, Americans practiced Zero-Effort.
A study by the University of Utah found that 42 percent of Americans largely ignored Covid precautions. Many of them even said they were taking precautions, but they were lying about it to save face.
Here’s a breakdown:
24% overstated the precautions they were taking.
22% broke quarantine rules.
21% didn’t test when they thought they were sick.
20% lied about their infections.
Of those 20 percent who lied about their infections, many of them didn’t even disclose their status when they went to the doctor’s office.
This last point needs to sink in. One out of five Americans lied about having Covid-19, and then infected people.
That’s negligent homicide, at best.
Nobody expects a smartphone to work without turning it on, but Americans expected precautions to work without following them. So when they say our strategies failed, they’re ignoring why. Admitting the truth would force them to acknowledge these survey results. Half of them didn’t follow instructions.
It makes them look bad.
Some clever internet trolls like to point out that Covid-19 has found animal reservoirs, which means we’ll never be able to eradicate it.
You know what else has animal reservoirs?
Western civilization managed to eliminate the plague through better sanitation. We also significantly reduced malaria and other diseases by implementing smart strategies, not just vaccine campaigns.
With Covid, we gave up.
Most American states and cities never implemented Chinese-style lockdowns. None of us recommend those. China had to implement them because western countries wouldn’t stop circulating the virus and reintroducing it. Americans never implemented the plans that would allow us to truly live with Covid, and they never gave China a chance to do that, either.
Unlike most countries, China shoulders the unique responsibility of producing almost everything the world needs to keep civilization afloat. When you have zero room for error, you have to take a zero-mistake approach.
Everyone else had the luxury of killing off large portions of their workforce in pursuit of misguided “herd immunity.”
China never did.
It’s a little hypocritical that western countries expect Chinese factories to keep up with rising consumer demand, while also ridiculing the policies they’ve implemented to ensure they can continue delivering our cars, our smartphones, and our flatscreen televisions, all without interruption. It’s Space Karen behavior, and it’s characteristic of how we’ve treated China for decades now.
I imagine they’re getting tired of it.
If we’re going to criticize Chinese lockdowns, Americans have to recognize their complicity. Western behavior forced China’s response, just like it keeps vulnerable Americans trapped at home.
It’s the same.
“Their vaccines don’t work as well.”
True, China’s first-generation vaccines didn’t even match Pfizer’s quality, and those vaccines weren’t nearly as good as we thought.
On the other hand, China has invested far more resources in second-generation vaccines, including nasal ones that halt transmission. Eric Feigl-Ding does a great breakdown on the efforts China has made on this front.
If western countries weren’t constantly lobbing new variants at everyone, they’d have a chance to roll them out. Meanwhile, western governments have settled for leaky mRNA vaccines that don’t do a very good job at stopping transmission or reducing the risks of Long Covid. Researchers in the U.S. have also developed nasal vaccines, but they can’t get funding to run trials.
Most Americans haven’t updated their vaccines.
They haven’t gotten the bivalent booster. Most of them didn’t even get their flu shot. When the CDC approved boosters for children under five, my spouse and I could only find one pharmacy in the entire city that cared. We’re bragging about the quality of our vaccines, but we aren’t even using them.
That’s an American attitude.
America has always been that guy.
I’m a professor.
I know most students hate groupwork, especially the high-achievers. They’re the ones who get stuck with all the responsibility.
A lot of us remember how groupwork used to go back in high school and college. One or two of us did everything. On presentation day, the guy who did nothing talked over us and tried to take credit. He was the “facilitator.”
We would wind up getting a B.
He would complain.
That’s how western countries have acted during this pandemic. China, Japan, South Korea, they all stepped up and did the work. Meanwhile, almost half of Americans ignored precautions and then lied about it.
The pandemic is a group project.
America is that guy.
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If China practiced Zero-Covid, Americans practiced Zero-Effort.
Thank you. Excellent analysis.
It's not just the US it is the whole western world (NA and Europe especially).
And it isn't just Covid, it is climate change too.
Today there is a blizzard where I live. I attempted to go to work, got about 3 miles from home, and pulled into a "Tim's" for a coffee to assess whether I would continue to risk my life or turn around. While sipping my coffee and waiting for it to at least get light outside, I listened to a conversation at another table. Here is what I learned:
--climate change is a hoax being perpetrated by scientists on the take.
--NASA has debunked climate change
--Vaccines are killing people; Covid is not a problem
There have been times where I jumped into the middle of conversations like this and tried to nudge/cadjol/harrangue people into the light. Today I did not. Today I sank under the weight of the despair.
On the plus side, I made it home and participated in a Zoom meeting instead of the in-person meeting. Bigger plus: one of the attendees is Covid+ at the moment and was intending to be there in person.
Bullet dodged. But it is hard not to feel that all the asshats out there are gunning for everyone else.