When swine flu swooped down upon us from our southern neighbor, the scapegoat gate swung open. First, pigs were blamed and countries all over the world banned pork. Although scientists reassured us that ham sandwiches were not toxic, grunting politicians needed to reassure their publics that they were taking all (un)necessary means to protect them.
In Egypt, hundreds of thousands of pigs have been targeted for slaughter by the government. Coptic Christians, an Egyptian minority who raise most of the pigs, claim this is an effort to weaken their communities and destroy their livelihoods.
The New York Times reported today that China started rounding up Mexican tourists, calling upon them in the middle of the night, even though these turistas were feeling perfectly well. Some of these folks haven’t been in Mexico for months. Others are now being kept in quarantine. Many countries cancelled all flights from Mexico and have declined to host Mexican athletes. Does this sound like sound health care policy or hysteria?
Scapegoating, if unchecked, leads to discrimination. Mexico and its citizens shouldn’t be blamed for a disease that could have originated anywhere. Let’s see how some of these ‘holier than thou’ countries behave the next time a germ pops up in their capital or a food or medicine is linked to illness.
Our government is riding the white horse on this issue. We’ve cleared the pigs. You won’t hear our health experts calling it swine flu anymore. The new & improved label is influenzaA(H1N1). But Mexicans are still being singled out and piled on. It’s ironic that their most spirited adversary is the country responsible for exporting toys with lead, toxic heparin, contaminated food and many shoddy products. What should our response be to these repeated quality lapses? Perhaps, Americans and others should stop eating Chinese food in our home towns. Does this make sense? Of course not, but we’ll show them.