Bedbugs have been in the news again—a random sample from today's Google News:
SF's Bed Bug Infestation Getting Worse The San Francisco Appeal
Bed bugs enjoying local resurgence, on you Fremont News Messenger
New School Fear: Bedbugs Coming Home in Backpacks Wall Street Journal (blog)
And finally, to my great amusement:
Bedbugs Feared Inside Wall Street Journal Offices NBC New York
But we've been writing about bedbugs for some time—in 2005 I called them the World's Smallest Immigrants. It's pretty clear that bedbugs, the scourge of an earlier, less hygienic society, are coming back. Why? Well, we're importing people from a present-day less hygienic society.
This is admitted by the public health authorities and MainStream Media journalists who report on them:
"In the bedbug resurgence, entomologists and exterminators blame increased immigration from the developing world, the advent of cheap international travel and the recent banning of powerful pesticides." Just Try to Sleep Tight. The Bedbugs Are Back. , By Andrew Jacobs, New York Times, November 27, 2005
But not by the politicians who pander to immigrants:
"Richard Pollack, an entomologist at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston who has studied bed bugs, said the insects disappeared in the latter part of the 20th century but recently made a surging comeback.
"The return, he said, 'has been attributed to a supposed increase in international travel and immigration.' One council member rejected that characterization as unfairly blaming immigrants." [City Takes Aim At Exploding Bed Bugs Problem, Bryan Virasami, Newsday, September 19, 2006]
In fact, the mention of the immigrant/bedbug link has been known to drive Latinos, well, buggy.
"And apparently Mexicans are responsible for — of all things — bedbugs:
'Chapter 3. Coming to America
'High among the [costs of immigration] is the appearance among us of diseases that never before afflicted us and the sudden reappearance of contagious diseases that researchers and doctors had eradicated long ago. Malaria, polio, hepatitis, tuberculosis and such rarities of the Third World as dengue fever, Chagas' Disease and leprosy are surfacing here …. Bedbugs have invaded the United States for the first time in 50 years, with 28 states reporting recent infestations.'"[Links added] [Pat Buchanan warns of Mexican "invasion", VivirLatino.com, August 21, 2006]
Buchanan was right, of course. I know—I helped fact check the Buchanan book.
How do immigrants help boost bedbugs? Two different ways:
The immigrants actually import the bedbugs. Some people come to America by walking over the border, with nothing but a backpack, but others have their furniture shipped from home, home being in the infested Third World. Also, bedbugs and lice can may attach themselves to the clothing or body of the immigrant
Immigrants bring a culture that doesn't know how deal with bedbugs. If you're an American, bedbugs are something that you read about in Lonely Planet's Healthy Travel: Asia & India Guidebook, and maybe experience in on a trip to Thailand. But for the people of Asia and India, that's their whole life.
That culture thing has wider implications. I've repeatedly pointed out that America's foodservice industry and agriculture is now in the hands of people who have never learned the germ theory of disease, and may not believe it when they're told.
But complaints about immigrants and any kind of health problem are scoffed at by Open Borders types like Janet Murguia of La Raza, ("references to Latino immigrants riddled with dangerous diseases are frequent"),The Anti-Defamation League ("painting undocumented immigrants, particularly Hispanic immigrants, as disease carriers "), and Linda Chavez (on NRO) ("They think Latinos are dirty, diseased, indolent, and more prone to criminal behavior. "[Links very much added])
There's an urban legend that a passenger bitten by a bedbug on a railway sleeping car, in the old days when Pullman cars hired American labor, wrote to George Pullman, who owned the company. This version is from a New York Times story in 2003:
"The company had never heard of such a thing, Pullman wrote, and as a result of the passenger's experience, all of the sleeping cars were being pulled off the line and fumigated. The Pullman's Palace Car Company was committed to providing its customers with the highest level of service, Pullman went on, and it would spare no expense in meeting that goal. Thank you for writing, he said, and if you ever have a similar problem — or any problem — do not hesitate to write again.
"Enclosed with this letter, by accident, was the passenger's original letter to Pullman, across the bottom of which the president had written, 'Send this S.O.B. the bedbug letter.' "