(PU) After years of government indifference to viral epidemics, President Bush today called an emergency press conference to launch a federal campaign against the “Human Altruist Virus,” which threatens to blight the nation.
“Make no mistake,” stated the President, “this is a terrorist microbe. Compared with HIV, which mostly kills people we don’t care about, this virus destroys solid American citizens. Infected mothers, fathers, teachers, soldiers report lurid hallucinations showing them to be part of a vast, interconnected web of life, which they are responsible for preserving. Crazed and helpless, these people sacrifice their jobs, their possessions, and their futures to undermine American policy. Obviously, this is not God’s plan for us.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the Human Altruist Virus — or HAV — appears to have lain dormant in this country for decades, but resurged around February 2003, just before the US invasion of Iraq. Its symptoms include shortness of breath, night sweats, and the recurrent delusion that an American life is no more or less valuable than an Iraqi life.
“We call this disease the Acquired Bleeding Heart Syndrome, or ABHS,” declared Mr. Bush. “That’s pronounced with a long ‘A,’ as in ‘AIDS,’ so we don’t have to pay any more attention to AIDS.”
Traditionally known as the “Old Hippy Disease,” or “Pinko Plague,” ABHS has mainly afflicted progressive and leftist sectors of the population, which have long been considered expendable by the federal government. Now that this scourge has hit the mainstream, however, the White House has been quick to act.
“Except for Cindy Sheehan, we should not stigmatize ABHS victims,” continued the President. “These folks may do disgusting things, but they themselves are not evil; they’re just sick.”
“He’s right,” sobbed bystander Biff Hopewell, graduate of the Harvard Business School and former Conservative blogger. Now a full-time peace activist, Mr. Hopewell took a minute off from his protest schedule to answer some questions.
“I got my disease from hanging out around soup kitchens,” he said. “Sharing ladles. I did it for laughs, you know? I didn’t know it would lead to harder stuff. Pretty soon, I put on a Che t-shirt, just to sleep in, and began hearing voices. ‘Revolutionaries are guided by feelings of great love,’ they said. I woke up drenched in sweat.
“Then somebody handed me a flyer about Iraqis we’ve killed in the last three years. Thousands. Innocent children, old people. I thought, ‘That’s me, they’re killing me.’
“The shortness of breath began. I couldn’t stop gasping. I stopped eating meat. Had my mercury fillings replaced. Nothing helped. So I went to the doctor and discovered I had a full-blown case of Altruism, with a viral load over 5,000. I knew then that I had to stop this war. I don’t care that Merrill Lynch fired me, or that I could go to jail for resisting war taxes — it’s worth it.”
“OK, pervert, let’s go,” ordered a police officer, wrapping his rubber gloves efficiently around Mr. Hopewell’s neck. “We don’t want your disease here.”
The origin of ABHS remains unknown. Some say you can acquire it from kissing the bicycle seats of known pacifists; others insist the disease comes from being spat on by Bill Moyers. The CDC, however, believes the virus was brought to this country in the late 1960s by deranged Buddhist monks, whose colleagues set themselves on fire to align their suffering with that of war-torn Vietnam.
“Those people are totally promiscuous,” declared Adele Getmore, director of the newly established Ayn Rand Free Clinic for the Prevention of Altruism. “They become One with just anything. Muslims, hell — if Bush had any brains, we’d be bombing the hell out of the Dalai Lama.”
Once introduced into the body, the virus appears to spread by wiping out the ME-2 cells, which protect the Ego from deprecating environmental factors. If not checked, say medical experts, it will eventually overwhelm the individualist profit motive, resulting in massive attacks of selflessness and complete wasting of the central banking system. There is as yet no cure.
The fact that the virus is ineradicable is not necessarily bad, say holistic health practitioners, who have little use for Western science. Breezy Aires, radical “Barefoot Doctor” to the Weather Underground in the 60s, advises sufferers to let the disease run its course.
“I used to say, ‘Throw two bombs and call me in the morning,'” remembers Aires, who is herself HAV-positive. “But, for obvious reasons, that doesn’t work now. The important thing is to keep feeling compassion; stay informed; protest. Above all, embrace your disease.”
Alternative treatment methods, however, are at loggerheads with the Bush Administration, which fears an oncoming economic disaster. The President has therefore asked for $200 billion, slated to go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“We will treat this virus like the national security threat it is,” concluded Mr. Bush. “Already, we’re developing a vaccine, embedded in flavorful salty snacks, that will be given to every school child. Victims of this dread disease will be required to make weekly appearances on Survivor and pass a mandatory course on war correspondence, as taught by National Public Radio. We will isolate, detain, and exterminate this virus, so Americans can once again live free, uncontaminated by foreign ethics.”
White House sources were quick to reassure the press that by “isolate, detain, and exterminate” the President was not referring to the FEMA quarantine compounds that have recently popped up in the rumor mill. And if these compounds were to exist, sources added, they would definitely fall well within the guidelines of the Geneva Conventions.
Susie Day lives in New York City where she writes a humor column for feminist and gay publications. She has also written on U.S. political prisoners and labor issues and thinks her girlfriend, Laura Whitehorn, is hot stuff.