Let’s get a few things straight and for the record. The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 did not originate in a Spanish laboratory as an experimental biological weapon for use against the Germans in World War I. It didn’t even originate in Spain at all. The reason we call it the Spanish Flu is one of calculated perception during wartime and not of any sensible, factual reality.

Spain was a neutral country during WWI. When “la grippe” landed upon Spanish soil near the end of WWI and without any wartime morale to lift, or any military secrets to keep, the Spanish press did what all presses do. Write articles and well, report, widely. When King Alphonso XIII fell gravely ill to the disease, well, the French, English, Belgians and Americans said, “Hey! Don’t look at us! We had nothing to do with it!” But it wasn’t true.

The Allied nations who by this time had been joined by America, all started calling it the “Spanish Lady” or “Spanish Flu”. The Spanish protested vociferously. The headlines of their daily newspapers began shouting out the “French Flu”. But it didn’t take hold. This despite the Spanish Flu was relatively mild, mostly contained and in no reasonable estimation “widespread” throughout the nation. Even after King Alphonso XIII recovered from the virus, it did not change the rest of the world’s commitment to avoid any notoriety or taking reasonable responsibility for their actions, This despite far more incriminating and tangible evidence of their likely culpability
In creating, aiding and abetting the virus. But not Spain.

Our best guess is, as part and parcel of the lack of hygiene and sanitation surrounding the trenches in Western Europe coupled with the general shortages of readily available medicine (and starvation) normally attributable to times of war, the Spanish Flu pandemic probably originated in England (returning soldiers may have brought it with them), France or Belgium. But not Spain.

And then there is America, where the first documented cases (but not reported to the public at the time) of the virus were in a hospital camp in Haskell, Kansas, or possibly, some say, a bit earlier, though in a less well-chronicled outbreak in somewhat nearby but not really Massachusetts. But not Spain.

The Spanish Flu was the first of two deadly pandemics caused by the H1N1 influenza virus. One of the defining characteristics of the H1N1 strain is its ability to be transmitted through birds and pigs. The other H1N1 pandemic? You guessed it. The Swine Flu epidemic of 2009. This time, they blamed the pigs. But not the birds. Strange because you can’t get the disease by eating pork. It was passed mostly through perspiration droplets from humans. At least they didn’t blame Spain. Note: The county of origin was probably Mexico. Why not the Mexican Flu? Probably had a better crisis PR firm.

So, extrapolating out to today’s world of misinformation, disinformation, distraction, gaslighting, infighting and outright lies, there are the 24-hour news cycles whose only mission seems to be making matters worse than they are for higher and ever higher ratings. Are there no government officials who are in fact responsible for protecting us willing to take any responsibility at all (they take none, right?) for their lack of action in the face of an ever-climbing infection and mortality rate? Who I say, who let this contagious cow out of the barn? I was being facetious. DO NOT call it the Cow or Bovian Flu. My money is on the Wuhan or Chinese Flu. COVID-19 just sounds so cold and impersonal. Just like a virus should, you know?

Of course, given my druthers and perchance for historical and social justice, how about the Trumped Up Flu? At the least, a colloquial saying added to the lexicon? “Let them eat Chloroquinine? Anyone? A bit much? Still, it’s a thought.

Did you get your fill of Phil?

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