So, I guess nuking two Japanese cities isn’t worthy of a lefty historical revisionist meltdown, which truly disappoints me because I think it would’ve been insanely entertaining. Instead, we’ll have to suffer through a new layer of privilege lectures. Barking about white privilege will always be a go-to for liberals to shut down folks who expose them for being total morons. In the COVID era, we have a new line: “immunoprivilege.” No, I’m not kidding. We’re back to making stuff up again. Apparently, this has to do with some German dude, New Orleans, and yellow fever in 19th century America. Of course, Slate, contrarians extraordinaire over there, has more:
Vincent Nolte, 19th-century German immigrant and cotton merchant, made millions after he survived a bout of yellow fever and went on to prosper in New Orleans. As historian Kathryn Olivarius writes, Nolte benefited from “immunoprivilege”: Since he had made it through the sickness, he became credit-worthy and found himself accepted in elite society. His experience did not, however, endow him with much sympathy for his fellow victims of yellow fever. He believed both that God had blessed him and that he had saved himself, having “not at all fe[lt] like dying.”
Olivarius wrote about New Orleans’ 19th-century culture of immunoprivilege in the New York Times way back in April, when we didn’t yet know how complicated the question of coronavirus antibodies was going to be. Back then, some were floating the idea of asking young people to deliberately infect themselves with the coronavirus so they could, brimming in antibodies, spearhead the “reopening” of the economy. Reading Olivarius’ work—an article in the American Historical Review, her dissertation—in the more uncertain month of August, I felt a violent shock of recognition at the social phenomena she chronicles.
In New Orleans, Olivarius finds, elites refused to do anything at all about yellow fever for a hundred years. Theirs was a mindset of fatalism and cruelty that reinforced the society’s many human hierarchies; they saw yellow fever as a dangerous rite of passage that the truly worthy would come through. But poorer people who survived yellow fever were rewarded with the worst, most dangerous jobs; white people used Black people’s supposed “natural” resistance to yellow fever to justify the continuation of slavery. And the wealthy often turned profoundly hypocritical when it was their own families in danger. (That era’s elite fled to their summer houses too.)
Olivarius’ book, Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom, which will be coming out next year, is about the Deep South—Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and eastern Texas. Since the work I was able to read was about 19th-century New Orleans’ culture of yellow fever, that’s what we covered in our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Is there a privilege for making up and peddling bulls**t? Because I think liberals are just getting beyond arrogant now flaunting that in our faces. Oh, and you bet our friends at Twitchywere on this for sure. Get off the crack pipe over there, Slate.
"As historian Kathryn Olivarius writes, Nolte benefited from 'immunoprivilege': Since he had made it through the sickness, he became credit-worthy and found himself accepted in elite society."— Regs (@r3gulations) August 4, 2020
Notle really should've tried harder to perish from the virus.
That really doesn’t make sense.— JDumes (@jdumes98) August 4, 2020
Immunoprivilege? As if yellow fever (are we still allowed to say that?), never killed a single white person or something. I just can’t. This is almost as bad as when The New York Times published a piece naming the USA as one of three societies with the worst caste systems ever created, supposedly. The other two being India and—get this—Nazi Germany. We’re just like the Nazis. We’re being led by historical illiterates, and these people are teaching our kids.
Still, “immunoprivilege” that’s some grade-A creativity, no doubt. It’s still pure crap.