Do Fat Lives Matter? Not to Covid

America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s health protection agency, has declared that obesity significantly worsens Covid-19 outcomes. According to its website, obesity reduces immune function, decreases lung capacity, may make ventilation more difficult, and generally exacerbates the severity of Covid. During the first eight months of the pandemic, the CDC reports, at least three in ten Covid hospitalizations were attributed to obesity. As BMI (body mass index) rises, so do Covid-related risks of hospitalization, intensive care admission, mechanical ventilation, and death. 

These are grim facts, particularly so as the CDC also reports that obesity is on the rise, especially amongst America’s poorest, and has been made worse by lockdowns. The highest prevalence of self-reported obesity is among “non-Hispanic black adults,” at a whopping 39.8 percent percent. Nearly four out of ten black Americans are not just overweight, but obese.   

One might expect that in the name of saving lives, a national conversation about reducing obesity would be underway. The CDC website emphasizes the need for “culturally tailored interventions to address poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and tobacco use.” It advises obese adults to limit calories, choose leaner meats and vegetables, engage in regular activity, and reduce alcohol.

In the Covid red zone.

Yet as Michael Fumento recently pointed out in “Obesity: Covid’s Third Rail,” the average person would hardly know of the link between Covid severity and obesity from mainstream reporting, which has largely either remained completely silent about the connection or even denounced those who point it out. “It seems we’ve seen a backlash to linking Covid-19 to obesity without ever seeing the lash,” he notes wryly. 

Fumento is the author of a book about obesity, The Fat of the Land, that devotes a chapter to the popular myth that one can be fat and healthy at the same time. He deplores the tendency to denounce discussion of obesity as more debilitating than obesity itself, noting that “NBC News devoted a long print story to shaming “fat shamers,” but provided no evidence that they even existed beyond an oblique reference to social media trolls.” 

Thanks in large part to a social justice interdiction against what has come to be called “fat shaming,” it is now unacceptable to address the health effects of obesity. Some health officials even claim that so-called “fat shaming” is worse than being fat. A 2018 article in the peer-reviewed medical journal BMC Medicine targeted weight “stigma” as the main driver of the current obesity epidemic, finding “compelling evidence that weight stigma is harmful to health over and above objective body mass index.” The article’s authors were particularly concerned about anti-fat bias amongst health practitioners. 

Stigma and bias are still acceptable in mainstream discussions, of course—just not against the fat. During a pandemic rife with slogans about being “in this together,” divisive shaming tactics have become standard fare in much reporting. In early April of 2020, the Huffington Post’s Richard Stokoe eagerly fueled evidence-free animus by declaring that “The White Male is the Biggest Risk in Spreading the Virus.” Allegedly, white men’s “privilege” and “toxic masculinity” made them less likely to follow health guidelines or care about the safety of others. 

A year later, the specific issue was different but the scapegoating impulse was the same in an April 5, 2021 New York Times article on “How White Evangelicals’ Vaccine Refusal Could Prolong the Pandemic.” This piece of fear-mongering claimed that due to their alleged anti-science prejudices and other irrational objections—none of which were presented as having even a shred of credibility—evangelical whites posed a threat to American national health. The article skipped quickly over the possibility of vaccine refusal by non-white evangelicals.

Toxicity, thy name is white manhood.

Discussion of coronavirus impacts has often been indistinguishable from invidious identity politics. An April 4, 2020 article in the New York Post, “Why Women are Better than Men at Defeating the Coronavirus” showcased a cartoon image of a Super Woman flexing her muscular body next to a 98-pound male weakling. The article sounded a note of unmistakable crude triumphalism in emphasizing women’s greater ability to fight infection, and lesser chance of dying from Covid, due to their XX chromosome.

The tone was very different just a few days later, on April 7, when the New York Times reported that “Black Americans Face Alarming Rates of Coronavirus Infection in Some States.” The subheading noted that even in the absence of sufficient data to draw firm conclusions, the potential that black people were dying at higher rates than whites was worth discussing with “alarm,” and alleged that black infections and deaths illustrated entrenched social inequalities.

An article on the same day in The Washington Post titled “The Coronavirus is Infecting and Killing Black Americans at an Alarmingly High Rate” quoted Donald Trump calling the statistics “terrible,” Anthony Fauci referring to the racial disparity as “unacceptable,” and Surgeon General Jerome Adams saying it broke his heart to hear about higher death rates in the black community.

Reading these latter articles, one would never know that higher rates of obesity in black communities has certainly played a role in the death figures. For when it comes to talking about obesity, nothing that might remotely be seen to cast blame, or even simply to identify concern, is allowed. At a time when being overweight means undeniably greater risk from Coronavirus, it has become near-impossible to talk about the problem. 

Whom we don't don't about when we don't talk about it.

Fumento notes that obesity “has long been politicized.” But the particular ferocity of contemporary reality-denial would have been impossible without the concerted efforts of activist academics, who bear the largest share of responsibility for our present impasse. Thanks to the social sciences’ craze for extreme constructivism, which denies biology and insists that society “constructs” reality, alongside a cultural-Marxist imperative, fat is now considered a category of oppression rather than a medical condition. 

What began in 1978 with Susie Orbach’s bestseller Fat is a Feminist Issue, which argued that a sexist society makes women and girls hate their bodies, is now an entire area of identity studies called Fat Studies, complete with its own social justice terminology and a zealously-held ethical mandate to liberate the “stigmatized” from the prison of body-shaming. 

According to the practitioners of "fat studies," bias against fat people is a human rights issue of equal importance to racism, and is expressed in countless micro-aggressions, including even the kindest and least aggressive of warnings or encouragement about weight-related health.

Fat studies’ shocking divorce from reason was strikingly illuminated in a 2016 article by three North American academics with expertise in psychology and health. “Scientific Weightism: A View of Mainstream Weight Stigma Research Through a Feminist Lens,” co-written by Rachel Calogero, Tracy Tylka, and Janell Mensinger, begins from the now-widespread premise that fat stigma, rather than obesity itself, is the real killer. The authors go so far as to deny that there are any negative health consequences of obesity, insisting that although there are correlations between obesity and disease, correlation is not causation. They also deny that obesity is a condition within an individual’s power to control or modify. 

A social-justice issue, in the flesh.

“Weight stigma is a social justice issue,” the authors assert, “because people who are fat are denied their basic civil rights in every aspect of their lives, including their right to be fat and to live free of unfair treatment.” Merely to allege that obesity is medically harmful or undesirable is an example of “unfair treatment” that the authors believe should be outlawed. “It is absolutely essential,” they conclude “that scholars campaign for formal legislation to protect against weight stigma and discrimination.” Such legislation does not yet exist, but a powerful cultural consensus now denounces those who break the taboo against “fat-shaming.”

Even the CDC, though stating the negative health effects (and causes) of obesity unequivocally, has been affected by fat studies’ social justice cant. The website tends to speak about “having obesity” rather than “being obese,” as if obesity were an illness that one could catch unawares. It also frequently soft-pedals the direct connection between individual behavior and obesity, preferring a narrative of group deprivation, as when it alleges that “racial and ethnic minority groups have historically not had broad opportunities for economic, physical and emotional health, and these inequities have increased the risk of getting sick and dying from Covid-19 for some groups.” Such language reinforces the idea that the morbidity of the obese has more to do with oppression by others than with individual choices. 

But at least the CDC actually names obesity as a problem. Many other outlets have remained silent, deliberately rejecting the opportunity to educate the public on a crucial health problem. At a time when many in our society exhibit a near-hysterical concern for safety at any cost, it is bizarre to see our cultural mandarins refusing to provide basic life-saving information. 

'Environmental Racism.' Is It a Thing?

Rashida Tlaib, a member of the House of Representatives and an integral part of the harridan quartet known as the Squad, has enlightened the world as to why the Wuhan virus has disproportionately affected minorities: racism.  "Environmental racism," to be precise.

Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) Tuesday night on CSPAN blamed “environmental racism” for the higher rates of coronavirus infections and deaths among minorities.

When asked about the disparity, Tlaib said, “Yeah, I mean, look at racial disparities. You look at 40% of the people that have died from COVID in the state of Michigan are African-American even though the African-American population in Michigan is less than 15%. That alone tells you the racial disparities and that they have already been disconnected, maybe coverage of healthcare, maybe they live in what I would call very polluted and very overwhelming community with just corporate polluters all around, so they are already dealing with a lot of these challenges that come into the fact when you have a national pandemic like this, when you have a virus like this, that can really impact someone who has pre-existing conditions.”

She continued, “So, yes, we have talked about environmental racism, but I don’t think we really understood what that really means. If you look at Michigan, where some of the most polluting corporations from Marathon to AK Steel, U.S. Steel, many of these companies, you look in the shadows, it’s African American families that live there.”

Well, QED, as educated Americans used to say. But, of course, it hasn't been demonstrated at all, simply asserted. Not discussed have been the disparities in underlying conditions between the races, including hypertension and obesity, both of which are major comorbidities that contribute to the different death rates.

People died because they lived in communities that were over-polluted. People died because they don’t have access to quality jobs that offer that kind of healthcare coverage. I think there needs to be a full-blown reflection when we get back because I don’t think we go back to normal.

On the theory that you never let a good crisis go to waste, the Squad and the entire Democrat Left have decided to link "environmentalism" with the coronavirus, apparently on the theory that the demon spawn of Mother Nature and the horseshoe bat somehow select black and brown people for special treatment. In this linkage, we see the modern Marxist left at work, tying all their pet projects into one unified field theory that, amazingly, explains everything in precisely the terms favored by cultural Marxists. Much as, one might observe, classical Marxism did, in an economic-political theory that only a conspiracy-minded horseshoe bat-crazy ideologue  could love.

In any case, Tlaib's contention is absurd on its face. The Great Migration of African-Americans northward after WWII brought millions of black Americans from the Deep South to the industrial areas of the North, among them in particular greater Detroit, which Tlaib represents. In Detroit, they found good, steady, well-paying jobs that allowed them to live a middle-class lifestyle in one of the most beautiful cities of the industrial Midwest. Although race relations had been fraught as early as 1943 Belle Isle riots, one place in America where black people were not "in the shadows" was Detroit. The wreckage of Detroit, which accelerated with the race riots of 1967, came when Detroit had just passed its peak, and from which it has never really recovered.

But don't bother mentioning history to the Squad, whose purpose is only secondarily legislative. Their first job is to act as the Four Horseshoe Bat-Faced Women of the Apocalypse, riding at the head of their resentful army and trying to browbeat their enemies into progressive submission.

"It's not just about dismantling... anyone who's committed to the work of building a more equitable and just world is a member of the Squad." But if they have to destroy the country as founded in order to save it, you can bet they will. By any means necessary.

Back to "normal"? If they have their way, not a chance.

 

 

 

How the Wuhan Virus Stopped Global Warming

Or knocked it off the front burner, at least:

The coronavirus crisis calls for an urgent review of Germany's climate targets under goals set by the European Union, the leader of the economic council of the conservative Christian Democrat party (CDU) said on Saturday. The COVID-19 pandemic is "putting the German economy to the test," and the EU should consider a "deferment of climate policy targets," Wolfgang Steiger said in comments published in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Steiger said the fallout from the pandemic on the economy could amount to a new "de-industrialization" of Germany. Experts are predicting a global recession as a result of the business shutdown and subsequent layoffs.

The EU's ambitious 2030 climate goals include a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels and at least a 32% market share for renewable energy. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has pledged that a large amount of the bloc's budget would go towards achieving the EU Green Deal.

Deferring this ruinous course of action would seem to make sense. Germany is loath to give up its ongoing Wirtschaftswunderwhich has seen it go from wartime ruination to postwar industrial powerhouse. To destroy a 75-year record of achievement in order to attend to an imaginary future crisis when confronted with a real one in the here and now would be crazy. But fear not, Germany still has plenty of crazies:

However, Germany's environment minister, Svenja Schulze, warned against "connecting climate protection and economic prosperity." It may be possible "to use the exit from the corona crisis to promote climate-compatible and sustainable economic structures," she said.

The radicals, of course, want to go farther, faster:

Jennifer Morgan of the environmental activist group Greenpeace is among those who believe the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the weaknesses of the global economic system. "We are being offered the chance to fundamentally change how things work," said Morgan of the shutdown brought about by the health emergency.

In a meeting on March 26, EU leaders invited the commission to start working on a comprehensive coronavirus recovery plan, incorporating green transition.

Never let a crisis go to waste, indeed. As the Western world emerges from its China-induced economic coma, we need to be vigilant lest the patient, in a still-weakened state, fall prey to an even more insidious and destructive disease, cultural and economic Marxism disguised as "environmentalism."