The Godfather Part II: Covid Edition
Starring Xi Jinping as Michael Corleone and MAGA as Senator Geary
Xi Corleone sits in a stately office in his home overlooking a lake.
Senator MAGA sits opposite him.
The mood is tense.
Senator: “I don’t like your kind of people. I don’t like to see you come out to my clean country and foul it up with your pandemics. I despise your masquerade, the dishonest way you handled the crisis. You’re gonna have to answer for Covid; you’re gonna have to pay.”
Xi: “I’ll give you my answer now: I’ll pay nothing. In fact, you will take the blame for Covid for me, and you’ll do so without even knowing that you’re spouting my propaganda word-for-word.”
Senator MAGA sneers and walks out.
I’m throwing in the towel on the Wuhan lab theory. Not because I’m wrong (I’m not). There’s no proof for the lab theory beyond the coincidence of having a virology lab in the same massive city of 11 million where the first case clusters occurred, and the fact that it’s scientifically possible that the bug could have been genetically modified in a lab. But “coincidence” and “it’s theoretically possible” are not proof. That said, the lab theory has become rightist canon. And I’m too old to be arguing with people who want to believe something so badly, arguing becomes moot.
If I were into that kind of thing, I’d go to Scientology HQ and debate the efficacy of E-meters.
Truth is, the lab theory is the perfect vehicle for Republicans looking to woo MAGAs while not actually doing anything legislatively. Because there’s nothing that can be done legislatively. There’s just bitching. GOPs love that. You bitch about something domestic, eventually someone’s gonna say, “You’re lawmakers. Do something about it.” But screaming “evil China lab” is like howling at the moon. And in MAGA-land, where the performative trumps the substantive and “owning” libs through words beats owning them through actions (this is the most unfortunate aspect of Trump’s legacy), yelling “Wuhan lab!” is a risk-free way for rightist politicos to prove their bona fides without actually having to accomplish something.
It’s like a few weeks ago, when Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Stitt held a steaks ’n’ burgers cookout under a PETA billboard advocating veganism. Rightist Twitter exploded with joy. Boy, did he own those libs! Stitt’s fearless! He’s got balls! MAGA MAGA MAGA!
Meanwhile, Stitt’s been signing Soros-style deincarceration and “progressive prosecution” bills that have already led to innocent Oklahomans being murdered. Just a few months ago, Stitt commuted the 20-year sentence of a black career criminal who celebrated his release by slaughtering his white neighbor, cutting out her heart, feeding it to his family, and then blinding and murdering them.
But hey—Stitt “owned” vegans! All he has to do now is tweet “LAW & ORDER” 300 times while advancing a soft-on-crime “Platinum Plan,” and he’ll truly be the next Trump.
The Covid lab theory is tailor-made for a GOP that’s abandoned its two easiest wins: countering Soros’ pro-criminal policies (“We can’t do that; blacks’ll say we’re racist, and the Democrats are the real racists!”), and keeping mentally ill men in wigs out of women’s sports (“We can’t do that; the NBA, Apple, and Amazon will boycott our state!”). So just shout “Wuhan lab.” MAGAs will be satisfied and you’ll be freed from having to stick your neck out domestically.
Look, I could drone on about the untruths that have been spouted by lab theory proponents just since last week’s column. Like the May 19 Republican House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report advocating the lab theory, which contains shameless lies (the report claims that the Obama Administration ended the ban on gain of function research, when in fact it was the Trump Administration that ended the ban on Dec. 19, 2017) while relying on HuffPost and Politico pieces as sources. Or Devin Nunes on May 20 claiming that the wet market theory is defined as “some Chinese dude ate a bat at a wet market” (a blatant falsehood; no one claims anybody ate a bat. The wet market theory involves a chain: bat source–to–intermediary animal-to-human “spillover”). Or Tucker Carlson on May 21 asserting that the Wuhan “seafood market” didn’t sell “mammals” (an inexcusable untruth) and conflating the China CDC with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (a common deception by lab theory promoters) while also lying about how far the WIV is from the market (he understates the distance by half).
I could also highlight the truths that have been confirmed since my last column, like when New York Times global health correspondent Donald McNeil admitted last week that as partial as he is to the lab theory, the Covid-positive environmental samples taken at the wet market in January 2020 were almost certainly “not (from) coughing humans. It was the blood of a butchered animal being sloshed around as the market was hosed out.”