In the Response to Coronavirus, Echoes of Pandemics Past

A sign at the Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia warning of the spread of the “Spanish Influenza,” Oct. 19, 1918 (U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command photo via AP Images).
A sign at the Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia warning of the spread of the “Spanish Influenza,” Oct. 19, 1918 (U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command photo via AP Images).
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Crises, whatever their nature, have a way of putting a mirror up to the face of societies. They throw our angels and our demons into sharp relief, and pandemics are no different. All across the world, throughout history, outbreaks of new and mysterious diseases have spurred the creation of narratives that cast blame on a foreign source of the epidemic by persecuting and stigmatizing immigrants, minorities and other vulnerable groups. So it is with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which President Donald Trump and his supporters gleefully refer to as the “Chinese virus.” Given the scale of the current […]

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