“These people are bat-crap crazy!”
So charges an emailer who regularly buzzes my inbox with litanies against the antics of liberals. I’ve cleaned up the phrase, as the emailer typically opts for the more popular invective form of feces. My friend is agitated at liberals who seem eager to politicize our president’s response to the coronavirus situation. I understand the frustration. Frankly, it strikes me as grossly unfair to target Donald Trump as he deals with a no-win situation. I find it quite laudable that this president long running for reelection on the strength of the economy is greenlighting an effective shutdown of the economy at the worst time politically. The man is clearly seeking to do what’s best for the literal health of the nation. And certain critics are politicizing the issue at a time when people need to unite.
My friend’s “bat-crap” assessment was ironic given that I just happened to be reading about the relationship between bats and the coronavirus. Dear readers of The American Spectator wouldn’t know this about yours truly, but I’m a nerd for this kind of thing. In the late 1980s, I was pre-med at the University of Pittsburgh, where I worked for the organ transplant team of Dr. Thomas Starzl. That team does the vast majority of the world’s organ transplants and trains those who opened their own transplant centers around the world, including in China. I majored in microbiology and biochemistry/biophysics. I spent too much time in labs replicating bacteria in petri dishes. I wrote for health and biology journals.
I mention those facts because it explains why I was geeking out seeking knowledge on the relationship between bats and the coronavirus. I was digging because I dig this stuff. And because I’m weird.
Anyway, scientists believe bats had a role in the virus’s generation, perhaps as the starting point from one beast to another and, ultimately, to humans. More controversial, many people are asking if the virus was transmitted directly to humans from Chinese people who consumed bats. My search unavoidably veered me into that heated exchange, which, sadly, I likewise found to be politically charged, with liberals again lashing out at a conservative they don’t like.
Specifically, I encountered the backlash to a statement by Jesse Watters of The Five on Fox News Channel. Watters alleged the possibility of coronavirus originating from Chinese people eating bats and snakes:
Let me tell you why it started in China. Because they have these markets where they are eating raw bats and snakes. They are a very hungry people. The Chinese communist government cannot feed the people, and they are desperate. This food is uncooked, it is unsafe, and that is why scientists believe that’s where it originated from. And according to the New York Times … the Chinese government has been very deceitful and deceptive in the communicating the extent of the infections to the world.
Rather than condemn the communist Chinese, liberals, as is their tendency, focused their howitzers on the anti-communist. Mediaite flagged Watters’ remarks, as did his enemies at the Huffington Post, who run a special Watters section chronicling his indiscretions (congrats, Jesse).
For the record, Watters is almost certainly wrong if he’s asserting that coronavirus was spawned by a Chinese dude munching a raw bat or slurping a slimy snake on a stick at the infamous Wuhan market. But let’s all be honest here: what Watters likely meant to convey, in a live forum, not reading from a script, is that communist China is notorious for unacceptably unclean live-animal markets and so-called “wet markets.” The Wuhan market sells all sorts of exotic and inadvisable birds and animals that really shouldn’t be sold.
A video that went viral (posted by, among others, the Daily Mail) purported to show a Chinese woman delighting in a brown bowl of bat soup. The provenance of the video seems to have been debunked by an irate writer for Foreign Policy magazine who was fit to be tied, discerning nothing but insipid racism. Of course, there could be no other explanation, eh? After all, the Chinese are not “white.” Ipso facto, bat-soup charge is racist.
People not driven by dark visions of Klansmen under every bed, however, realize that lots of nasty creatures are devoured in that part of the world (sometimes by oddball Westerners looking to shock on TV food-and-travel channels). Here’s a link to a piece in Business Insider on Chinese “wet markets.” Note the picture of bats being sold at a market in Indonesia — that is, bats to put on a plate as food, not on a kite-string as pets. Here’s a link to a photo gallery of Chinese “live animal markets,” published by the Guardian, a left-wing British publication not race-crazed like American liberals. Here’s a piece from Time magazine on the matter of bats eaten in Asia.
I don’t point out these things to claim I’m better. I had an aunt in the mountains of Cameron County, Pennsylvania, who ate possum. My cousins and I always ran away when she tried to kiss us. Personally, I hunt deer. My favorite part of the deer is the heart (cooked). I always gobble up the “giblets” from the Thanksgiving turkey. Truthfully, I’d eat just about anything, but I do confess to having no desire whatsoever to chomp on a bat. (I imagine the bony part of a bat could double as a convenient toothpick when the wingy part gets stuck between one’s teeth.)
But I digress. Most importantly, people worldwide need to know they shouldn’t eat bats. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let wimpy PC-racked liberals bully me from telling some gal in China that she shouldn’t snack on bats.
That brings me back to Jesse Watters.
To these liberals, Watters’ sin isn’t merely that he might have been factually incorrect, but that he’s a conservative with Fox News and, more so, that his comment, in their narrow university-infected minds, denigrated a non-Western culture. Hence, his xenophobia was a product of his own disease: his toxic white-maleness. That being one of the most pernicious contagions in the Book of Liberalism’s Guide to Infectious Diseases.
A writer at Yahoo News ripped Watters for his “dangerous” “raw bats” theory. A columnist at the Daily Beast blasted the “culturally insensitive” Watters for “lashing out at China” by “pushing unproven rumors.” Naturally, these liberals found an eager ally in the communist Chinese. Red China’s foreign ministry slammed Watters for his “ignorance,” his “arrogance,” and his “prejudice.”
Incidentally, that China’s foreign ministry would call out Watters should no doubt flatter him. But it also signals a notable development I’ve seen increasingly with the communist Chinese: with remarkable frequency, they’re going out of their way to play the race card against American critics, reflexively slinging accusations of “racism” when it serves their interests. I noted that curiosity here last May, when they accused Dr. Kiron Skinner of the Trump State Department (an African American woman) of racism. Beijing’s commies are shrewd propagandists; they’re ringing the race bell because they know it will set off silly liberals to join the peanut gallery. They know how to push the buttons of the moonbat-element of the American Left.
Actually, this is nothing new. In my book Dupes, I gave examples of the Soviets and American liberals jointly leveling charges of bigotry. I highlighted Ronald Reagan denouncing the USSR as an “evil empire” only to have liberals accuse him of “intolerance” and “bigotry” (Richard Cohen in the Washington Post), of being “primitive” and “terribly dangerous” (Anthony Lewis in the New York Times), of a “gross appeal to religious prejudice” (Columbia University historian Henry Steele Commager), of a “deeply divisive” “orgy of cheap shots” (The New Republic).
And for what grievous offense? Reagan rightly described the USSR, a country responsible for more deaths than any nation in history other than communist China, as an evil empire.
The American Left has always preferred to denounce American conservatives rather than denounce communist regimes guilty of the worst crimes. A liberal will do backflips to avoid condemning communism while engaging in the most creative gymnastics to find racism under every rock. Their behavior is downright batty, and the coronavirus apparently offers them another chance to sling arrows as we earnestly try to figure out which rock (or cave) this virus crawled from.
Alas, let’s all put a pause on the ideological weaponization of coronavirus. This is a nasty virus that seems to have roots in bats. I refer readers to the good work of a Chinese scientist known as the “bat woman” for her groundbreaking work in tracking these viruses. Shi Zhengli and her team ominously estimate there are as many as 5,000 coronavirus strains yet to be discovered in bats globally. “Bat-borne coronaviruses will cause more outbreaks,” she grimly assures in an excellent article in Scientific American. “We must find them before they find us.”
That’s what we need to be attacking right now, not each other.