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The Italian ‘Ebola Outbreak’ Is Only a Probability for Racists to Be Racist

Doctors working in Guinea to control the Ebola outbreak. (Photo via Flickr user EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection)

On March 21, Guinea’s government declared an outbreak of the Ebola virus. According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) the following day, more than 140 people had already died, with a total of 208 clinical cases of Ebola registered throughout the West African country. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general, described the situation as “one of the most challenging Ebola outbreaks that we have ever faced.”

Despite health officials stressing that Ebola is not an easy virus to catch, Italy—a main point of entry into Europe for African migrants—promptly freaked out. On April 4, an official statement from the Ministry of Health declared “the activation of appropriate measures of surveillance at all international access points to Italy.”

This document highlighted the need to monitor all the “official and non-official” arrivals, especially on the island of Lampedusa, a renowned transit point for immigrants trying to enter Europe, and the location of controversial refugee camps that have been criticized for their mistreatment of migrants. In response to the statement, Pietro Bartolo—the healthcare coordinator in Lampedusa—told Italian press that the latest immigrants to be rescued off the island’s coast were mainly from Libya, and therefore unlikely to be Ebola carriers.

Several reassurances arrived from different parts of the country. The refugee center coordinator in Bolzano, a city in northern Italy, stated: “We took all the necessary precautions. What is more, the migrants coming from nations considered ‘at-risk’ left their countries way before the epidemic outbreak. Ebola has a 20-day incubation period. The refugees [who recently] arrived in Bolzano [had] been travelling for a long period of time before arriving in Lampedusa.”

Authorities in Pisa, Tuscany also reassured their residents that there was no need to be alarmed about an Ebola outbreak in the city, where 40 immigrants arrived on the day the Guinean government released its statement.

This is what’s been happening in the real world. Unsurprisingly, the internet hasn’t taken such a rational approach. A couple of weeks ago, a bunch of conspiracy theory websites reissued the Ministry of Health’s statement, claiming it was meant to be confidential and something the government was trying to hide. Of course, being inherently paranoid, some of these conspiracy theorists started to suggest that Italy was now at the mercy of plague-spreading illegal aliens, the government intentionally keeping quiet to avoid widespread panic.

One solution to prevent this invasion of infected immigrants was offered on the Facebook page of Catena Umana (Human Chain), an anti-Euro, anti-migrant, anti-banker, anti-Islam group that relays bullshit to anyone dumb enough to think that caps lock and exclamation marks are universal symbols of truth. Their illuminating status reads: “STOP ALL ARRIVALS, CLOSE ALL BORDERS OR KEEP [THE MIGRANTS] IN QUARANTINE ON THE SEA. DO YOU WANT TO GIVE THE CITIZENSHIP TO EBOLA AS WELL?”

Even Morocco, they claim, “has closed its borders,” while Italians remain slaves to the “politically correct.”

An anonymous letter from “an Italian Mother” (shared on a bunch of blogs and by thousands of Facebook users) claims that it’s already too late for salvation and that the apocalypse is near. She also explains why Italy is an easy target: “We have an EXCEPTIONALLY EFFICIENT overseas taxi service, and with our DECRIMINALISATION of the crime of illegal immigration we’re the most [attractive] destination for immigrants. We offer food and a place to sleep to whoever brings us adorable presents, like tuberculosis!”

The ideal conditions for a pandemic, explains the presumably fictional mamma, are all here: “While on the boats, the immigrants are crammed one on top of the other for hours and hours, and the exchange of fluids, in those conditions, is at high risk. YOU ONLY NEED ONE INFECTED PERSON to lead us to a catastrophe.” 

(Image via)

While politicians decide to “ignore” this criminal biochemical threat, David Icke’s Italian Twitter followers are standing up for their country. Of course, conspiracy theorists aren’t the only marginal group getting involved; another large contingent is presumably made up of those who just flat-out don’t like immigrants. People like Alba Dorata—Golden Dawn’s Italian counterpart—who tweeted: “All everybody does is talk about useless things the truth is that Ebola is here…and we’re turning into Resident Evil…as they predicted.”

According to Vox News, the contamination has already crossed the Alps. This prompted a member of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (known for its racist farmyard promotional material) to ask to control the border between Italy and Switzerland to protect the health of his population. The article’s closing statement couldn’t be more clear: “If we carry on with the Mare Nostrum operation [the initiative launched to save the lives of migrants whose boats have capsized while trying to reach Italy], it won’t be long before other European countries—the mentally healthy ones—put us in quarantine.”

The peak of this hysteria was reached a few days ago, when broke the news of Lampedusa’s first Ebola case, claiming that police had quarantined the island. After receiving over 20,000 Facebook likes in a number of hours, the article was removed at “the insistence of the national security.”

The website now states: “In the island of Lampedusa, there is no sign of contagion,” which more than likely has been the case all along, but is bound to have all those chemtrail theorists salivating for the next couple of weeks.

The CorriereSalute story claiming that there had been an Ebola case at a Lampedusa refugee camp

This week, another website—VNews24—alerted readers to the “curious case of San Rossore,” a first aid center in Pisa that “completely locked down due to 40 immigrants showing strange symptoms.” They’re the same 40 migrants I mentioned earlier, and the “strange symptoms” were actually just caused by fever. You can generally expect that kind of thing when you haven’t slept or eaten for days, which—according to a local council member—was exactly what the 40 migrants had gone through before arriving in Pisa.

The news of the virus making its way into Italy has also been reported by foreign websites. “With the likely arrival of Ebola in Pisa, Italy,” says one, “the European continent is now at severe risk.” Apparently not even Americans are immune, with one report warning that “the virus could make its way to US shores via hundreds of international flights.”

Obviously, this is all complete bullshit. The only thing being spread within all this is fear—fear of immigrants and fear of the “other.” Ebola, unfortunately, does lend itself well to the situation; there’s no known cure, stirring up maximum alarm, and it’s seen as an “exotic” disease—one that can easily be pegged to other “exotic” stuff, like foreign people who speak a different language than you do. 

If there’s anything to take away from this weird outbreak of pseudo-science paranoia (other than “continue to ignore conspiracy nuts”), I suppose it’s to google something that scares you before sharing your reaction. Because—as is evident from the social media updates concerning the non-existent Italian Ebola pandemic —make that mistake, and chances are you’ll look like a tool.


sixteen Issues Your Mother Says When She Joins Fb

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Someone just poked me! What is that?

Disney / Pixar / Via

I want to tell (insert gal pal’s name) something, but I don’t want the world to see it. Is there some sort of way I can send them something privately?

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NBC / Via

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Why do people keep posting pictures of sad dogs and then writing a long story about it?


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I thought the status bar was the search bar...


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Time Has No Remark About Not Together with Laverne Cox On Its one hundred Most Influential Individuals Listing

The actress and activist got the fifth highest number of votes in the online vote, much more than many people included on the annual list.

This week Time released its annual list of the year’s “100 most influential people.”

This week Time released its annual list of the year's "100 most influential people."

Beyonce, Rand Paul, and Carl Icahn were among this year’s honorees.

Absent from this year’s list was transgender activist and actress Laverne Cox, who was the fifth highest vote getter in Time‘s online poll.

Absent from this year's list was transgender activist and actress Laverne Cox, who was the fifth highest vote getter in Time 's online poll.

Jeaneen Lund for BuzzFeed

Fans rallied behind Cox and got her over 88,000 votes, with less than 10% of voters saying that she shouldn’t make the list.

Fans rallied behind Cox and got her over 88,000 votes, with less than 10% of voters saying that she shouldn't make the list.


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It Takes Expertise To Grow to be A Prime Recruiter

Job seekers these days have few advantages when applying for jobs if they don’t have an inside contact to smooth the path. In-house recruiters can be difficult to connect with and almost impossible to forge a working relationship with. A recruiters job is to find top talent, yes, but a [...]

eleven Wedding ceremony Traditions You Can Completely Ditch

You know, if you want.

Christina Lu / Via BuzzFeed

1. Having the bride’s family pay for everything.

Weddings are really expensive — like, absurdly so — and for better or worse, they can be stretched out to include about a million events. So if a parent or a grandparent or a wacky aunt wants to help ease that financial burden, then by all means take them up on it and thank them profusely. Just don’t expect it. Tradition dictates that the father of the bride is responsible for the engagement party, the invitations, the wedding dress, and the wedding reception (so, basically everything), but this, like many other wedding traditions, is uncomfortably reminiscent of the idea that brides are being “gifted” to grooms. And what happens when there are two wives? Pay for the wedding you can afford, accept help where you can, and take comfort in the fact that if you’re paying the bills, you’re in charge.

2. Including people out of a sense of obligation.

This is your wedding and, as previously established, it isn’t exactly a cheap affair. There is no reason you should feel obligated to populate it in any specific way. You don’t have to include someone in your wedding party just because they included you in yours, and, conversely, you don’t have to exclude someone for something so arbitrary as gender. If you’re a woman, and your best friend is a dude, and you want him standing up there next to you while you’re signing off on the rest of your life, then, by all means, include him. And if you’re the groom and you want your sister as a grooms[wo]man, who would dare stop you?

3. Accepting a position in a wedding party just because you were asked.

Being in someone’s wedding party isn’t just a big expense; it’s also a huge time and energy drain. Which isn’t to say it can’t be a very worthwhile albeit expensive time and energy drain! It’s an honor to be included, and, in the case of you’re closest friends and family, it’s exciting to be that much closer to the celebration(s). But if you genuinely feel like you can’t commit to the time and money, you’re better off saying so upfront. Have a frank conversation with the bride- or groom-to-be and explain how truly touched you are by the consideration, but that you know you couldn’t do the position justice.

4. Buying gifts off the registry.

The gift registry is practical and convenient, and technically, yes, it’s more of a recommendation than a direction. You, as the gift-giver, are free to spend your money as you’d like. Just be considerate and realistic. It’s rare that people so specifically spell out exactly what they want and how to get it (usually from the comfort of your own couch!) so it’s probably best not to stray from the registry unless you’re confident you’ve found the most beautiful/miraculous thing that the couple never even knew they needed.

Christina Lu / Via BuzzFeed

5. Considering cash gifts tacky.

Money doesn’t have to be tacky. It can actually be the most meaningful and practical gift of all! It’s basically the gift of an experience. The recipients can put it toward a new home, their future child’s trust fund, their honeymoon, or, more realistically, repaying the debt that their wedding has placed them in. It’s total freedom for both parties. Just, you know, put the money in a thoughtful card, and maybe don’t make it a PayPal transaction.

6. Keeping your partner from seeing your (WHITE) dress.

There have long been an awful lot of rules attached to an item of clothings you’ll likely wear just once in your life: it has to be white (to help prove your purity), it has to be expensive (watch Say Yes to the Dress enough and $3000 starts to seem low-end), and the person you’re marrying CAN’T see it before you walk down the aisle (or else it’ll … burst into flames? It’s unclear!). First, a wedding dress doesn’t need to be ANY color (or obscenely expensive)—we only started wearing white because Queen Victoria did, and she has been dead for so long now! White dresses are pretty, but it’s most important to feel happy. And if you want your partner to shop with you for it, that’s great too.

7. Making your bridesmaids match to a T.

Can we just acknowledge openly, in the year 2014, the future, that rarely (and maybe never) is it the case that a group of 3-10 (ahhh, are you sure you want 10 bridesmaids?) women are all going to feel happy with how they look in the same cut and color of dress? Why are so many of them olive. It’s always olive and yellow and lavender with you people. We’re not saying brides need to let bridesmaids wear LITERALLY whatever they want, but allowing variations on a theme (whether color or cut) can go a long way in making it easier on your pals.

8. Being walked down the aisle by your father.

Being walked down the aisle by one’s father, and “transferred” to one’s groom, may feel symbolically … icky, for some people, and forgoing that practice in lieu of walking yourself (or walking with both parents, or a friend, or whomever you’d like) is a totally legitimate decision. Of course, who says you even need the aisle in the first place? Maybe you would like to drop in from the ceiling in a harness-pulley system, like in the film Mission Impossible. I will check the “Attending” box on that Save the Date card, thank you.

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