Long ago, there was a time when nobody knew what caused diseases. So when plague broke out (and particularly when the plague struck some people harder and other not as hard, it was simple for a species of fallen predators like ours to seize on one of our oldest and darkest impulses–scapegoating–to unleash our fury on helpless victims we decided were the source of the problem.
Different dominant groups pick different scapegoats depending on the circumstance of the society. For Spartans, the goat of choice was the Helot. For the Egyptians, the Hebrews. For Nero, Christians. And for Christians, it was often Jews.
When the Black Death, caused by the Yersinia Pestis bacterium and spread by flea-bearing rats and people, began marching across Europe in the late 1340s, Jews (whose purity laws tended to protect them from the lack of sanitation in medieval Europe that facilitated the spread of disease) quickly became the scapegoats for the Plague. Beginning in April 1348 in Toulon, Provence, Jews were subject to massacre and looting repeatedly in Spain, Erfurt, Basel, Aragon, Flanders, Speyer, and Cologne. On Valentine’s Day 1349 two thousand Jews were slaughtered in Strasbourg, where the plague had not yet even struck. In Mainz, three thousand were butchered. In the end, 510 Jewish communities were destroyed. And this does not count the pogroms which spread to the Baltic Coast and Eastern Europe.
Interestingly, Pope Clement VI tried to protect Jewish communities, issuing two bulls declaring that those blaming the Jews for the plague were “seduced by that liar, the Devil” and insisting that “It cannot be true that the Jews, by such a heinous crime, are the cause or occasion of the plague, because through many parts of the world the same plague, by the hidden judgment of God, has afflicted and afflicts the Jews themselves and many other races who have never lived alongside them.” He urged clergy to protect Jews and offered them his protection in Avignon. Relying on the science of the day, he was guided by his personal physician Guy de Chauliac, who likewise argued that Jews were not to blame.
In a strange echo of our own time, Clement’s efforts were in part undone by politics as the newly elected Charles IV made the Holy Roman Empire Great Again by grabbing at Jewish property and giving local authorities a financial incentive to turn a blind eye.
Fast forward to February 17, 2022, when Eric Sammons, Editor of CRISIS, chose to do the Christian mobs of the 14th century one better by blaming the COVID Pandemic, not on a virus, nor on Donald’s Trump’s spiteful destruction of the Pandemic Response team President Obama had organized after the Ebola epidemic, nor on the selfish MAGA morons fighting tooth and nail (with the warm approval of Eric Sammons) to spread disease in the name of Freedumb and to battle vaccination tooth and nail.
Nope. Sammons fixed his let the great machine of his intellect swing into gear and place the blame for the Pandemic on defenseless brown Amazonian Catholics. Yes, the true responsibility for the Pandemic lay with a little wooden statue he and the rest of the Reactionary cult of superstitious bigot dubbed “Pachamama” (though the brother and sister Catholics he recklessly chooses to scapegoat honor her as Our Lady of the Amazon).
For those of unfamiliar with this massively stupid controversy, some Amazonian Catholics came to Rome a while back seeking the sacraments, because they are Catholics, not pagans. But the bigots in white racist Reactionary Catholic circles who, confine the entire Faith into a particular Euro aesthetic and declare all those outside that aesthetic to be godless pagans decided this little statue
…which the makers themselves venerate as a Marian image was an “idol” and the Pope welcoming these desperately poor Amazonian brother and sisters to be an “idolator” and a “heretic”. So like the bigots they are, they stole the image and hucked it in the Tiber to make sure their brothers and sisters were properly humiliated and shamed on a global stage. Because that is what Reactionaries do: humiliate and shame those weaker than themselves.
Eventually, the image was recovered (wood has an admirably buoyant quality) and is now back in a place of honor, thanks to the Holy Father these bigots hate more than they hate poor, brown Amazonian Catholics.
And that, according to Eric Sammons, is what caused the Pandemic.
Now, in the 14th century, nobody knew what caused the Black Death or any other disease (though that was no excuse to scapegoat Jews, as the Pope pointed out at the time). But how much massively dumber, more bigoted, and wicked do you have to be to live in the 21st century–when we know exactly what causes COVID, know how to reduce transmission of COVID, and know how to create extremely effective vaccines against COVID–to do battle with all this scientific knowledge, fight the Church to spread disease, and superstitiously labor to gin up a pogrom against defenseless Amazonian Catholics in your towering bigotry, superstition, and black satanic pride?
This BS is straight from hell.