The ongoing COVID19 viral epidemic reflects attention to the vast epidemic of viral ideologies and memetic worms that have resulted in “no rights zones” and re-education camps.  These unfreedoms are intended for the collective punishment of those who have fallen prey to the conviction, that it is not virtuous to solve the mysteries of faith, but to revel in their insolubility. But we are no strangers to this. The Capuchin friars quarantined the First Peoples in an en­comien­da system of re-education camps.  Their resistance in Arena in 1699 triggered their mass mutilation in St. Joseph. Immunologically defenceless, they were further victimised by viral infections from arriving Europeans. There is nothing original to the COVID19 cases in St. Barths. That is our history.

The mass arbitrary detention of people for forced political indoctrination and compulsory flag-raising ceremonies, heightened religious restrictions, curtailment on movement and communications, torture, ubiquitous controls on daily life, mistreatment, and mass surveillance using QR codes, biometrics, artificial intelligence and big data are symptoms of a world that has not yet discovered how to define itself in term of what it is, but only in terms of what it has just-now-ceased to be.

The mass confinement of eleven million people in Wuhan also found a contemporary echo in the ideological pressure to quarantine enemies that pose a threat to our identity along with others who, like the Devil’s Chaplain, have crossed the line. Last year, Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status was axed along with phone lines and internet connection.  Everyday internet-deprived Kashmiri people frantic to pay a utility bill or send an email outside the stricken zone were forced to take a seething train dubbed the “Internet Express” to Banihal. Banihal became Kashmir’s remote cyber oasis. Scores of students queued to connect to the internet. One alternative was to journey to Jammu — an eight-hour trek from Srinagar.

In January 2020, internet was restored to parts of Jammu. Hotels, hospitals, banks and government offices were given access but only on white-listed websites. Internet service providers were permitted to offer broadband services with Mac binding, meaning that a client’s computers must work from a precise Internet Protocol address. In neighbouring Dong Tam village in Vietnam, villagers had been resisting attempts by the military, to build an airfield on their land. They claimed that 124 acres of land was unfairly taken away from them and offered to the Viettel Group.

A martial raid of Dong Tam resulted in the unexplained death of Le Dinh Kinh. Twenty people are being investigated on murder charges. Posts of the foray on social media were drowned by annotations of the establishment. The state demanded that videos, articles and comments critical of the sortie be taken down. Amnesty International stated that some users on Facebook had received warnings that their access was restricted “due to legal requirements in your country.” Radio Free Asia was also briefly blocked from uploading videos to its Vietnamese YouTube channel after being accused of violating “community guidelines”.

In September 2018, Human Rights Watch reported a series of bizarre events in Xinjiang, China. In 2016, Party Secretary Chen Quanguo moved from Tibet to assume leadership of Xinjiang. The root of all evil in Xinjiang was the “problematic ideas” of Turkic Muslims including extreme religious dogma which needed to be “corrected” or “eradicated”. The objective of quarantined re-education “vocational schooling” in secretive locations was to stamp out those viruses of mind linked to religious extremism and violent terrorism.

In Lalish, the ground is hallowed. No one wears shoes. Lalish is perched at the top of a petit valley, in the panting hills of northern Iraq. It is a magical cluster of shrines revered by Yazidis. Their esoteric beliefs – range from taboos on wearing blue clothing to a belief in a fallen “peacock angel”. In Lalish, a pool of water is sheltered inside a grotto shaded by mulberry trees and guarded by a dervish in a red turban. This “holy white spring” is where babies are baptised and the waters mixed with the Lalish soil for the rites of birth, matrimony and death.

In August 2014, Isis fighters flush with weapons, cash and confidence from their inexplicable seizure of Mosul alighted in Sinjar, the homeland of the Yazidis. Isis faith-sufferers dubbed them “devil worshippers”. The Isis pietist confined the unclothed Yazidi women of unearthly beauty and violated them repeatedly.  Their internet technology whizzes built an App for a virtual slave market on which Yazidi girls were sold. With each successive sale the value of the girls plummeted.  Mothers wanted to kill themselves but lived only to cry for their daughters. Some kept themselves dishevelled to sicken the Islamic invaders.

Columbus and his brothers did the same. A report by Francisco de Bobadilla based on evidence from Columbus’ enemies and supporters describe his barbarism including the parading of women naked and selling them into slavery. Isabella became worried by growing rumours of Columbus’ savagery. Bobadilla collected the testimonies of 23 witnesses about the treatment meted out by Columbus and his brothers. Even those who loved Columbus admitted to the atrocities. Columbus voyaged back to Spain in chains.