Perhaps your postman, as mine did, brought to your mailbox an unexpected publication—The Epoch Times. From its front page it was obvious the special edition of this 20-year-old newspaper was devoted to China bashing, specifically attacking the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for its malevolent actions, particularly as they now relate to the spread of the pandemic COVID-19.
A quick check of Wikipedia revealed the paper is printed in eight languages. It was founded by John Tang and a group of Chinese Americans “associated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement” that China has attacked. It is a staunch supporter of Donald Trump and other far-right politicians. Indeed, Wikipedia says a 2019 report found that only the Trump campaign funded more pro-Trump Facebook advertising. The Epoch Media Group also is big into conspiracy theories, being among the disseminators of stories on QAnon and anti-vaccination propaganda.
Well, we can’t expect every publication to be The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times or The Washington Post. That said, I was intrigued by one particular representation that might be a more accurate count of the dead in China from the coronavirus, or what The Epoch Times calls the “CCP virus” (it prefers to tag the China Communist Party with the identification rather than place any stigma on the innocent people of China or Wuhan where the virus originated).
Instead of the absurdly hard to believe statistic supplied by the CCP that only a little more than 3,000 deaths occurred in China from the virus, The Epoch Times says many more perished as seven cremation centers in Wuhan were operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, open air pits in some villages burned bodies and 40 mobile furnaces were shipped to Wuhan. Such descriptions are reminiscent of Nazi Holocaust measures.
The Epoch Times says its sources suggest CCP virus deaths have exceeded one million. But then the paper teases the total could be catastrophically greater. As everyone in China by law must have a cell phone, records released by China’s three cellphone carriers reveal that over the last three months the number of cellphone users dropped by 21 million!
Now that I’ve possibly shocked the bejeezus out of you, some provisos: First, I have no way of validating or corroborating anything in The Epoch Times. Second, even the newspaper hedges its bet by stating that since China allows each person to have up to five cellphone accounts, many of the dropped users could be workers who were laid off and chose to disconnect one or more of their lines to save money.
There’s a world of difference between 3,000 and 1,000,000 and 21,000,000. Based on our country’s experience, the actual mortality in China probably is higher than the government figure. But then, even our government cannot supply a true figure as it has been reported that many deaths during the time of the pandemic, at home or in nursing homes, have not been attributed to coronavirus because authorities lacked the manpower or facility to autopsy them all to determine if the deceased were infected (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/05/us/coronavirus-deaths-undercount.html?referringSource=articleShare).
One of the more troubling aspects of the national spread of the plague has been some of the comments coming from our elected politicians. I won’t bore you with repeating Trump’s blindness to the pending disaster. He has the excuse, however flimsy it be, that his initial reluctance to believe in the intensity of the danger was because he wanted to give confidence to the public and it was still not clear how bad it would be. What’s more, he hailed his decision to close travel with China. Yet, according to The NY Times, 40,000 entered the U.S. from China in the two months after Trump imposed the ban, including thousands who flew directly from Wuhan (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/04/us/coronavirus-china-travel-restrictions.html?referringSource=articleShare).
More troubling, perhaps, are the comments from governors and mayors late in commanding shelter-in-place directives for their jurisdictions. The mayor of New Orleans said Mardi Gras was allowed to go on unfettered because the city never received any warnings from the federal government. Georgia’s governor claimed he didn’t know until a few days ago the widely distributed news that people without symptoms could spread the pandemic. Florida’s governor waited until pressure from the Trump administration forced him to act. In each of those cases officials put the health of their area’s tourism economy ahead of the public’s health. Ain’t capitalism grand?
The U.S. Surgeon General has compared the pandemic to the attacks on Pearl Harbor and on September 11, but with higher casualties. He’s right, but probably not for the reasons he wants us to acknowledge. Pearl Harbor and September 11 were thought to be surprise attacks. But warnings were known before they occurred. Known and ignored, or at least downplayed.
The same is true for the new coronavirus invasion. The Trump administration ignored advice on how to deal with a pandemic and how critical supplies needed to be stockpiled. It also at first refused to believe how vulnerable we were.
Unlike Pearl Harbor and September 11 we do not have a physical enemy on which to launch a counterattack. Our “wartime” president has nobody to blame but himself and his cronies for how unprepared we have been for this deadly assault.