From the plague to SARS, whenever an outbreak spread, racism and xenophobia weren’t far behind.
…”Jewish populations were accused of deliberately poisoning the wells and causing the plague. We know examples of this from many places in Europe,” Varlik says.
As rumors spread, Jews were killed, buried alive and burned at the stake.
…An 1832 cholera outbreak “was very largely blamed on Irish Catholic immigrants,” Kraut says.
“This is in part because this was also the period of the Second Great Awakening, of intense Protestant evangelism, and Catholics were always the target of that,’ he says. “They attributed the presence of the epidemic to the ‘filthiness’ and ‘ignorance’ of Irish Catholic immigrants.”
“Whenever there’s a crisis like an epidemic, people immediately look for who to blame. And groups that have already been stigmatized are natural targets,” Kraut says.
…”During an outbreak of smallpox in San Francisco in 1876, a population of 30,000 Chinese living there became medical scapegoats, Chinatown was blamed as a ‘laboratory of infection,’ and quarantined amidst renewed calls to halt immigration. The Chinese Exclusion Act, the first immigration law based on race, was enacted in 1882,” Lee noted in a recent essay for Salon.
“As soon as the immigration started to increase, that is when the job prospects for white laborers became threatened, and that is when the rumors about Chinese being disease vectors began,” she told CNN.