The Overwhelming Racism Of COVID Coverage

Western media cannot write western failure


The NYTimes published a bunch of photos of Thailand doing things right and titled it No One Knows What Thailand Is Doing Right. Because racism.

Thailand worked hard and fought back COVID-19 with public health. Instead of seeing that, however, the NYTimes asked if it was something in their blood. We’re talking about oriental blood magic, in 2020. I’m serious:

Is there a genetic component in which the immune systems of Thais and others in the Mekong River region are more resistant to the coronavirus? Or is it some alchemy of all these factors that has insulated this country of 70 million people? (NYT)

This is literal racism. Instead of looking what Thai people did, they’re asking if it’s something in their veins. Because Thai people couldn’t possibly just be competent, it must be alchemy. This sort of coverage is awful, and it’s endemic. Recently the NYPost (dumpster fire) said: Scientists can’t explain puzzling lack of coronavirus outbreaks in Africa. Well no, they can, it’s bog standard public health. They have excellent scientists in Africa, you know, if you would ever let them get a visa for conferences.

This is just racism, and western coverage is almost all like this. They attribute agency to rich/white nations like Germany or New Zealand but luck to anyone poorer or dark. And it’s just not true. Poorer nations have done better than the rich because they had robust public health responses. Because they worked together. Because they reacted early. These are all lessons worth learning, but the west is unable to learn them because they’re simply too racist to see.

For once this racism isn’t killing us in the Dirty South. We’re living. This time it’s killing you.

The Real World

When the NYTimes or western media talks about the world, they’re not talking about the world. They’re talking about white people or, at a stretch, the rich.

For example, David Leonhardt imagines the world in 2022… and only talks about America. Some more generous writers include Europe in the world, and thus dub Europe’s COVID response excellent. But it’s not. It’s a burning trash can next to a dumpster fire, good only in comparison. The rest of the world is actually eliminating or suppressing this thing, but you can’t see that if you only see white.



Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at, or just email me at