“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” – William Shakespeare. As said by Cassius to Brutus in Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141), and as said by Edward R. Morrow to America, March 9, 1954.
As much as I’d like to blame the well-fueled white supremacists for everything from the disappearance of Liquid Paper to the snow I probably just drove through this morning in northern Ohio, I cannot blame this one on them. I mean, sure, I could, and I doubt they’re helping any…
In the past two weeks, the drop off in business at Asian restaurants and take-outs across the United States has reached at least as high as 60%. That means that if you owned a nice fusion joint in a shopping strip in a middle-class neighborhood and your rent is due soon, you may be screwed.
I get it. People are worried out of their skulls because of the rapidly-expanding coronavirus plague, and we do wacky stuff when we’re paranoid. We saw similar knee-jerk reactions to 9/11, which ruined Dennis Miller’s relationship with his centrist fans but, nonetheless, gave Joe Biden his all-time best joke: “There’s only three things he (Rudy Giuliani) mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb and 9/11.” Ba-dum-bump. But as the fear subsided, so did the many of the more extreme reactions. Well, maybe not in Miller’s case.
Chinese stocks plunged on the first day back from their extended Lunar New Year holiday. That is slightly more understandable, as stock markets live and die by the rumor-du-jour. The stock markets are not capitalism per se, they’re just a system of mass delusion that trashes our economy, people’s jobs and retirement investments, and makes a ton of cash for those incredibly wealthy people who accomplish nothing while they live in fear of Sanders and Warren. Yeah, your slave labor in China is going to be off-line for a bit. You’ll never notice your financial loss, and your human rentals are going to be out their 39¢ an hour.
The sad fact is, nobody needs to organize this. The Republican Party has devolved into a truly mindless form of fascism that almost makes me miss Mussolini, so, I’m sure they’re exploiting it to what they think is their benefit. They think America is only about western European white people and everybody else should have their children taken away from them and then deported to a place where they will be killed.
This type of bigotry is an all-natural phenomenon based upon the domino-effect of ideas. Coronavirus started in Wuhan, which is in China, and you can’t tell the difference between the Chinese and other Asian people, but what the hell, stay out of all Asian restaurants if you don’t want to die.
There is no greater a likelihood of any person catching coronavirus at or from an Asian restaurant than there is at McDonalds. In fact, I can make a plausible argument that you are far more likely to catch it at McDonalds than at the chop suey slinger at the strip mall.
There’s nothing original about this. Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans have been exploited, enslaved, persecuted and tossed out on their ass at will since the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882. It was renewed and extended numerous times, including during World War II when the Chinese people were perceived as our allies in the war against Japan, another Asian country.
We tend to think our society has grown past this, slowly but surely but not yet completely, ever since the end of the first Civil War. Well, if you’re Irish, Italian, eastern European, African, Hispanic, or Asian, you might not think this at all, particularly if we paid attention to the stories told by our grandparents.
So if you’re local Asian restaurant is still in business and you’re hankering for a meal, get there as soon as you can. If you’re looking for a seat on the bus and you’re near an Asian neighborhood, you shouldn’t have a problem. And when you start seeing separate “white only” and “yellow only” water fountains, leave the premises.
The government can do a lot to exacerbate bigotry, and in recent years certainly has. But the government can only exploit that which is embedded in our hearts, and back in the day, Cassius got it right.
(Written on Monday because of what I said in the first paragraph.)