San Francisco Goes Viral: Coronavirus and Chaos

Nature abhors the vacuous idea that it cannot strike when and where it wants, that it cannot spread its wealth of power among the rich and powerful, that it cannot eradicate income inequality by destroying people of all incomes.

We may soon see the worst of human nature if an American city succumbs to the fury of Mother Nature, if a city like San Francisco becomes a forbidden city, if an export from China starts a class war in Chinatown, Fillmore, Mission Bay, Nob Hill, and Corona Heights.

We may soon see the coronavirus consume the City by the Bay.

If the virus strikes the city we may soon see the soft fascism of fear, of liberals rending their garments without mourning their loss, of residents saying good riddance rather than goodbye to the city’s homeless.

Gone will be any sense of common sense, as residents mistake the disappearance of the sick with the death of sickness itself. Not unlike the false argument that because San Francisco has no cemeteries (save two), and because no burials happen in San Francisco, no one who lives in San Francisco dies. Not unlike all other falsehoods people tell themselves in order to live.

Listen, then, to the cries amid the noise.

Listen to the chaos of the poor and dispossessed, as trucks sweep the roads and spray the streets, as workers clean the ground and clear the air.

Look for these things to happen in the light of night, beneath clamshells and cobra heads of steel, where light poles shake and buzz.

See what happens next, in the daylight, when parks reopen and panic reappears. Because even if residents were to collect every sheet of plastic and remove every scrap of paper, even if they were to burn every blanket and destroy every piece of garbage, they would not be safe.

Nothing can inoculate residents from paranoia.

Far from loving one another, far from honoring their Father who art in heaven, residents may soon fortify their city and stick closer to Big Brother. 

They may soon revert to type, reviving racist policies and policing the descendants of an ancient race, reducing many races—the Malays, the Mongols, the Bengalis, the Bhutanese—into one race of Chinese Americans.

Should these things happen, should the most liberal city in America act like the most hypocritical city in the world, should the champions of tolerance prove to be tribunes of intolerance, we will hear a chorus of excuses.

We will not, however, hear a single apology.

We may soon see what San Francisco values most.

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About Bill Asher

Bill Asher is a writer and retired executive. He lives with his family in Massachusetts.

Photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

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