I was watching a news report on the Swine Influenza a couple nights ago. The news anchor—or personality (I guess)—Rachel Maddow gave China, Russia and Australia the “missing-the-point award” for placing a hold on the sale and import of pork products. She smirked and announced that, of course, sausage and bacon weren’t the culprit, and you’d only be at risk if you cuddled up with an infected pig. 

Hey you medieval communists in Russia and China—hain’tchu ever heard of dem dere scientifix?

….or maybe their leaders aren’t the fools she hopes they are.

First, the ban isn’t a wholesale one—Just on pork from certain US states and Mexico. Even so, you might ask, wouldn’t it simply promote fear and ignorance, as US officials proclaim?

In this information-pumped society, I don’t know if Americans can truly appreciate what it must be like to live in Russia or China. In China, for example, you are only permitted to read state-approved literature. In other words, a Google search turns up far less than an American one does. I am sure there are many Chinese who know you can’t get swine flu from eating pork, but I am also sure there are many millions of Chinese who don’t know that. 

Before we label the bans as commie balderdash, let’s examine if there is a strategy. Now, I haven’t spoken with their heads of state, so I could be totally talking out of my ass. But I suspect the ban has everything to do with preventing mass hysteria among their citizenry. It’s the same reasoning behind the Mexican government handing out surgeon masks, which will do little, if anything, to prevent the spread of the disease.

Imagine: You just went through the SARS debacle a few years ago. You know there is this potential pandemic. You have heard the disease is called “swine flu,” but you don’t know how its communicated. And you just ate princess pork at Fei Long’s Barbecue. Shit balls.

Wouldn’t you want to keep that fear from arising in people?

Of course, the US wants to discourage such policies in these countries, because the bans could “trigger serious trade disputes.” 

I guess that would just be one more thing out of the US’s hands. (Funny how we hate to feel like we can’t control it all.)

I think this Rachel Maddow is missing the point. She should read Montaigne’s essay, “On the Force of Imagination.”