World

Europe Wasn’t Ready for Coronavirus. It May Never Fully Recover.

A border police officer wears a protective face mask at the last toll gate entering Spain from France, following an order from the Spanish government to set up controls at its land borders over coronavirus, in La Jonquera, Spain, March 17, 2020. (Nacho Doce/Reuters)
Coronavirus has already weakened the idea of Europe acting in concert to confront challenges.

On November 28th, 2019, the European Union officially and solemnly declared a “climate emergency.” Today, almost four months later, in the midst of a real emergency, the only thing that remains official and solemn in that declaration is its ridiculousness. That, and the no-holds-barred death match between the Union’s partners to seize containers of respirators and face masks destined for other countries in order to save their own. “The European Union either gets this health crisis right, or it will be dead,” I heard the former president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, say the day before yesterday. At the moment, the European Union seems to be MIA, along with the “climate emergency.” Each day that passes, the hope of finding it alive diminishes.

A month ago, while the coronavirus was invading the Old Continent, we Europeans were busy with much more important matters than ‘a little flu.’ In early March, Spain’s Communist government was focused on passing its aberrant “sexual freedom law.” With a name like that, you might think that we Spaniards have been procreating by pollination for 2000 years. Meanwhile, the Swiss press, strangely enough, seemed intent on overthrowing the Spanish monarchy, as if we hadn’t had enough of church-burning and coldblooded murder at the hands of the Second Republic. And a few days earlier, on March 2nd, the big issue in Switzerland was a referendum to pass a law banning any comments or attitudes against gay-friendly policies. It brings to mind the warning that Gómez Dávila, Colombian intellectual, gave us towards the end of the 20th century: “Despite what they teach us today, easy sex isn’t the solution to all our problems.”

In Sweden, Germany, and half of Europe, the front-page news on March 7th was another issue: Greta Thunberg’s statements about the need to impose measures that reward women over men. It was around those days that the Dutch government announced a bill that would allow the euthanasia of any elderly person “tired of living.” It comes as no surprise that the Netherlands doesn’t seem too concerned about this coronavirus business. The last we heard from Holland is that the official channels are telling people: “Don’t bring weak patients and old people to hospital.” Looks like they’re only interested in saving the lives of young people. I guess they’re more photogenic and look better on postcards of tulip fields.

Also during the first week of March, almost the entire European press devoted rivers of ink to discussing whether two transgender athletes should compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as men or women. One of Europe’s many progressive newspapers began this momentous debate thus: “Well into the 21st century, there is still much to be done on issues like racism, sexism and religion. And even on sexual identity.” These are classic phrases for an unserious mind; they never fail. If you want to know if someone is a charlatan, just listen out for the expressions, “Well into the 21st century” and, “There is still much to be done.”

In Germany, at the beginning of March, the controversy that dominated the nation was whether to erect a huge statue of Lenin in a small North Rhineland town. Interesting. Perhaps it was to scare the virus off. But Scotland is definitely my favorite. As the pandemic began to spread dramatically, the main debate in Scotland was the imperative need for a new government law to provide free tampons and sanitary pads. The issue went beyond Scotland and was the subject of some very intellectually dense op-eds in the broader European press. It was clear that the festival of incompetence and unicorn politics was to go on right up until the last minute before cataclysm.

Everyone wanted to drag out that last drink on the Titanic. Nobody wanted to go to sleep. Neither did the U.N. On March 10, with 118,100 diagnosed and 4,262 dead from coronavirus in Europe, the U.N. held a press conference . . . to commit to the political and economic fight against the climate emergency! Yes, it would appear that the plan is to leave the pangolins a beautiful and temperate planet. Thus, secretary-general Antonio Guterres trumpeted a report at us, saying that climate change acceleration will trigger heat and dengue deaths in Africa, and cause drought and flash floods in countries such as Spain, without explaining how it’s possible to die from thirst and drown at the same time. Of course, we can’t really expect any explanations from an ex-president of the Socialist International who praises the policies of the Cuban regime and now hints that China’s response to the coronavirus is the example to follow. Someone should make it clear to him, however, that China will be the example to follow in a health crisis when it ceases to be a Communist dictatorship, and when the Chinese end their unfortunate preference for meat from exotic jungle animals slaughtered in front of them at wet markets.

In the midst of this festival of frivolity, harsh reality landed in Europe. In just ten days, we discovered that neither the tampon issue, nor the participation of transsexuals in the Olympic Games, nor the climate emergency were real problems, nor emergencies, nor anything of the sort. They were just fictitious problems, the pastimes of a generation that hadn’t known tragedy.

The reactions of politicians in Europe reflect the bewilderment of those who were living in the Matrix and have just been awakened. Most governments in Europe have moved from denial to chaos. But probably the most vile reaction has been that of the Social Communist government in Spain, which encouraged Spaniards to participate massively in the March 8 feminist rallies, the next day hiding reports that the coronavirus was already out of control in the country — something they may well have to answer for in court. Vice President Carmen Calvo said at the time that to attend the demonstrations was a moral obligation for all Spaniards: “what is at stake is the life” of many people. She was referring to violence against women, I think. It goes to show that Sanchez’s government only tells the truth by accident. Yes, many people’s lives were at stake, as we have unfortunately found out. Now Calvo is recovering from coronavirus, as are most of the members of government who took part in the demonstrations. Of course, the Spanish do not seem to be worried about the government’s taking a few days holiday: It’s worse when they’re actually on the job. The government is currently returning 650,000 defective coronavirus tests bought a few days ago. The president appeared on TV to show them off last Saturday, saying: “These are approved tests and that is very important, very important.” They don’t work. They weren’t from an approved Chinese supplier. Spain has been ripped off. A joke going around here in Spain says: “I took the government’s coronavirus test and… it’s a girl!”

Something similar happened in France, where president Emmanuel Macron closed bars and discos but refused to suspend the March 15 elections. Even so, until a few days ago, Germany and France both boasted about their good crisis management. However, the truth is that lying does not solve the problem: We now know that neither Germany nor France is counting the deaths from coronavirus that occur outside of hospitals, and that the Germans don’t call it “death from coronavirus” if the patient had a previous illness.

At some point between March 8 and March 15, all European countries unilaterally closed their borders. For 20 days, as nations took the lead, the European Union ceased to exist. Even today, it is  discussing possible economic measures, without any decision being made. The main obstacle to an economic agreement is that the countries that have been frugal for years, in particular the Netherlands and Germany, refuse to bail out the more wasteful Mediterranean countries with their money again. And that’s understandable. However, for those who are now on their own, namely the United Kingdom, things aren’t looking any better. The UK will pay a heavy price for its experimental immune policy. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s infection looks like writing on the wall. To survive in a globalized world, you have to do more than just antagonize everyone else all the time.

Europe, whose nations had staked everything on an all-powerful state that could protect its citizens from all evil, has been cruelly disappointed. The future is uncertain. But what is certain is that death and poverty are two words that will stay with us for a long time. Europeans now miss having competent governments, cohesive civil societies, responsible economic administrations, and citizens capable of giving their lives for others — that is to say, citizens with values. The same values that were deliberately excluded in the European Constitution in order to please the extreme left-wing secularists.

Tajani was right. The coronavirus has reopened the deepest wounds in the European Union.

Editor’s Note: This article has been emended since its initial publication.

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