By Theodore Shoebat
The coronavirus has hit northern Italy. From having just three people infected, the virus now has entered the bodies of over 200 people. Seven people have died so far. The infection began in the Lombardy region which is right in northern Italy, bordering with Switzerland. An area of 50,000 people has been quarantined in what it is known as Italy’s “red zone.” This red zone consists of 11 towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions, and their names are Bertonico, Casalpusterlengo, Castelgerundo, Castiglione d’Adda, Codogno, Fombio, Maleo, San Fiorano, Somaglia, Terranova dei Passerini (these are Lombardy) and Vo’ Euganeo in Padova province, Veneto. These towns are on lockdown and the government has imposed measures that fine people for leaving or entering the red zone. As Time Magazine has noted, “Schools and universities have been closed across the north.”
While viruses are definitely reasons for concern and emergency procedures, what can be more dangerous than the virus itself is people’s reaction to the virus. The presence of the coronavirus in Italy has provided a perfect addition to the currently brewing nationalist storm in Europe. The virus is not just in any part of Italy, but the uppermost parts of northern Italy, in the most nationalistic regions of the country. With this mind, we can see clearly the potential political dangers that the effects of this virus could bring, not just in Italy, but in the whole of Europe.
As a result of the migrant crises of 2015, the far-Right saw a huge victory as once obscure parties that were considered to be on the fringe gained substantial seats in parliaments. We saw this with the rise of the AfD, the Freedom Party in the Netherlands, the Austrian Freedom Party, and recently with the Forum for Democracy in the Netherlands. Brexit also won the vote in 2016 due in large part because people thought that by severing from the EU that they would not have to deal with migrants traveling into Europe. Currently, there is another migrant crises that could very possibly happen again. There has been talk in Western governments about a repetition of what occurred in 2015; they have been pointing out that because of the fighting in Syria’s Idlib province between Turkey and its rebel proxy and Russia and its Syrian regime proxy, millions of civilians living in the midst of the crossfire are wanting to leave, which means they will be heading towards Europe. A senior US administration official said in the recent Munich Security Conference that Turkey already has “3.5 million; they can’t absorb anything like that. They’ll be spewed onto Europe.” A German immigration official, Gerald Knaus, also warned:
We have been hearing for years: “2015 must not be repeated.” But Greece was experiencing a 2015 , and it will probably get worse in 2020 if nothing happens. Even if German cities commendably offer to take in a few thousand people, this alone will not solve the crisis.
Just recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that the fighting in Idlib “has forced the flight of some 900,000 people” in what has been described by Mark Lowcock, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, as “the biggest humanitarian horror story of the 21st century,” and he further went on to explain:
“If this goes on … Idlib will become the world’s biggest pile of rubble, strewn with the corpses of a million children.”
When the migrant crises of 2015 was in its most intense moment, the chaos that came about from it fueled the success of far-Right parties; and this was just because of the presence of migrants alone. Now, imagine the political effects of another migrant crises but this time with the coronavirus in the middle of the whole situation. It will have the fear of migrants, the fear of terrorism, mixed in with the fear of being infected; the political consequences will, in turn, be immensely more intense and chaotic than the 2015 refugee crises.
The political effects of the coronavirus are already being seen in Italy. When Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a radio interview that the speed of the virus’s spread “surprised” him, the far-right League party, which until August was in a coalition government with Conte’s populist Five Star movement, capitalized on the prime minister’s statement and called for him to resign.
Salvini already made the connection between the coronavirus and migrants entering Europe. He shared a video on his social media accounts showing a migrant rescue ship arriving in Pozzallo, on the Italian island of Sicily, and with it he posted the comment: “It is simply insane that the landings continue as if nothing had happened, this government is every day more reckless and deplorable. And Conte has the courage to go and say on TV: ‘I’m surprised.’” Salvini added that Italy ought to “make our borders armor-plated” in response to the coronavirus.
Regardless of the fact that Pozzallo’s mayor told local media there was “no underlying concern” about the ship, Salvini and his ilk have not hesitated to use the fear of the coronavirus to intensify conservation over migrants. Salvini and his party was pushed out of the government in August of 2019 after Salvini left the alliance with the Five Star Movement with the hopes of triggering an early election that he was confident he would win. But, with the prospect of another migrant crises, and on top of that the surge of the coronavirus, the far-Right are not going anywhere and may even have a boom in popularity because of the current situation. Cecilia Emma Sottilotta, a politics professor at the American University of Rome, explains:
“The very nature of the crisis we are witnessing plays into his narrative, because it’s about controlling the movement of people, which is what he’s been arguing for in the first place.”
Although migrants from the Middle East don’t have coronavirus, the fear of the spread of the virus, mixed in with the perception that foreigners bring disease, has created an implicit link and this is all that is needed to commence anti-immigration hysteria and nationalist craze. Anti-foreigner violence in Italy has already been reported. According to Bologna Today a 15 year old Chinese boy was attacked by four boys who “insulted him, then surrounded him and attacked him with kicks and punches in the face, causing him to end up in the hospital with a 15-day prognosis. “What are you doing in Italy? Do you bring us diseases? You must go, you and your virus”, they shouted, before throwing him on the ground and starting to beat him up. The youths continued to beat the boy up until a 40 year old Moroccan man rescued him. The boy went to the hospital, face blooded, where he was given stitches to his face.
Anti-China craze has been a part of American politics since the 19th century’s “Yellow scare,” and the coronavirus just added an extra oomph to this sentiment. Steve Bannon has been heavily active in promoting the idea that coronavirus was created by China, and this propaganda is most definitely in line with the finances backing Bannon. This view on the coronavirus has been pushed by Guo Media, a project funded by Chinese billionaire real estate investor, Guo Wengui. The propaganda has been promulgated for weeks through Guo Media’s G News which reportedly paid Steve Bannon $1 million and offered him a senior editorial position. On February 21 of 2020, Bannon had Guo on his radio show in which the Chinese billionaire affirmed that there is “no doubt” the coronavirus is “man-made” and that it’s “ridiculous” for people to say otherwise.
Guo goes by the name Miles Kwok and lives in the US where he lives as a fugitive from China where he is wanted for money-laundering, bribery and rape. Guo denies these allegations and claims that the Chinese Communist Party is just angry with him because of his outspoken criticism of the Chinese government. According to a report from Axios, Guo Media made the deal with Bannon so that Bannon could act as a bridge between G News and “media personalities” who were connected with the former Trump campaign advisor.
According to Daniel Podhaskie, a spokesman for Guo, Bannon and Guo first met in October of 2017 after the Chinese billionaire’s appearance at the Hudson Institute, a major conservative think-tank, was cancelled. Podhaskie recounts that Guo then introduced Bannon to his media apparatus. “We both naturally despise the Chinese Communist Party,” Mr. Guo said in an interview, referring to Mr. Bannon. “That’s why we’ve become partners.”
Its very interesting that it was Bannon who told Salvini to attack the Pope and call him “the enemy” over his views on immigration. Now Salvini is linking the migrants with the coronavirus at the same time that Bannon is working with a Chinese billionaire to spread the idea that the coronavirus is an invention of the Chinese. It would not be surprising that Bannon advised Salvini to connect the migrant situation with the virus.
But, here is what we do know: We do know that hundreds of thousands (close to a million) Syrians are working to leave Idlib and cross the Turkish border; we know that Turkey already has 3.5 million migrants within its country and will have difficulty holding another wave of migrants; we do know that Western intelligence from both the US and Germany has been recently warning about another migrant crises in Europe, with one US official forewarning about millions coming into Europe; we know that the nationalists in Italy, like Salvini, are using the coronavius to spark nationalist and anti-migrant rage. We also know that the 2015 migrant crises brought much success to the far-Right, such as the big election wins of the Dutch Freedom Party, the Forum for Democracy, the Austrian Freedom Party and the AfD, and also the accomplishment of Brexit was due to immigration hysteria. So, if the migrant crises of 2015 — which had no real disease scare — brought so much substantial success to the far-Right, then another migrant crises with disease will bring even more success to the far-Right. The coronavirus could be the one thing that will give the ultimate edge for the tribalists.
What we see coming upon Europe, with nationalism and racialism, is the spirit of Levi. You probably think that something called ‘the spirit of Levi’ must be a good thing because Levi was one of the sons of Jacob and numerous American Evangelicals get ecstatic about the idea of having ‘Levite genes.’ But let us explain what we mean. The Book of Genesis recounts how the prince of the Hivites, Shechem, had intercourse with the daughter of Jacob, Dina. This angered the sons of Jacob, but the prince and his father actually sought out peace with the Hebrews and agreed to convert and to have their whole city convert to the worship of the God of Jacob. Once the Hivites got circumcised they were overtaken with the pain that that operation entails, Simeon and Levi, filled with bloodlust and rage, took advantage of their pain and slaughtered them:
Now it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males. And they killed Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went out. (Genesis 34:25-26)
Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me stink to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. My numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.” (Genesis 34:31) And how did Simeon and Levi reply to their father? They said: “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?” (Genesis 34:32) The rage that is reflected in these words is the same form of rage that you see in the people who, in the name of ‘protecting our women’ will support hardline nationalist organizations. The spirit of Levi is full of cruelty and rage. It is this cruelty that Jacob spoke of on his death bed when he proclaimed:
“Simeon and Levi are brothers;
weapons of violence are their swords.
Let my soul come not into their council;
O my glory, be not joined to their company.
For in their anger they killed men,
and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.
Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,
and their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
and scatter them in Israel.” (Genesis 49:6-7)
The Levites would eventually become the priestly class, and it was the successors of this priestly class who would, in their bloodlust and cruelty, murder Christ. Christ is not of the order of Levi, but a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Psalm 110:4) Melchizedek was, to reference Josephus, a Canaanite chief. The Hivites who were murdered by Simeon and Levi were Canaanites. Christ is not of the order Levi, who was a murderer, but of Melchizedek whose people were murdered by Levi. Christ did not choose the order of the tribalist, nationalist, the violent egoist, but of the Canaanite priest whose descendants would be conquered by the Hebrews, but whose order would triumph forever. Let us throw away this spirit of Levi, and embrace that spirit of universality that is the Christian faith, and have an awareness of the wiles of the devil, how he uses cunning and reality to spark within us that force of ruthless destruction. A torrent of bloodshed is going to rip through the earth, let not that turbulence come from us, who uphold the embracing Cross of Christ.