If You Won’t Say ‘Chinese Virus,’ You’re Just Not Serious About Stopping This Pandemic!
When the economy's in the toilet during an election year, voters usually pick a Democrat to clean up the mess and deliver some sweet, sweet socialist-adjacent domestic policy. That happened in 1992 and 2008. Donald Trump had hoped enough money would rain from the sky to make voters forget he was impeached for extorting a foreign country to smear Joe Biden, his now certain Democratic opponent. Yes, that does seem like a billion years ago, but the only reason it's no longer at the top of our minds is because Trump's incompetence unleashed a plague on all our houses.
Republicans probably realize they're going to have their asses handed to them unless they can pull a 2004 and make Trump a “wartime president." (No really, he called himself that yesterday.) You can't replace a president when we're at war -- even if he tanks the stock market whenever he speaks publicly. It's important to Trump's re-election that voters believe the reason they're all broke and under house arrest has absolutely nothing to do with how he bungled the response to coronavirus. No, fault lies with the Chinese, who deliberately infected us and took away baseball. In the real world, China is as much a victim of the coronavirus as the American people, but Trump -- who's never liked the Chinese -- believes they're a good scapegoat for his obvious failings. He calls the coronavirus “the Chinese virus," and he doesn't think the Chinese mind at all!! (He's wrong.) This is like the “freedom fries" debacle, but with an extra heaping of racism added to the xenophobia.
Trump wasn't the only one to put on the white hood. Other conservative thinkers have started using the term “Chinese virus." When Democrats and the “liberal media" pointed out the blatant racism, his defenders argued again that this would only inspire Trump to even greater victory because Americans always rally behind someone accused of repulsive bigotry.
Ben Shapiro, who people named Ben Shapiro think is very smart, claimed China “unleashed coronavirus on an unsuspecting world." I'm not sure how “unsuspecting" the world was of the coronavirus considering China kindly broadcasted its devastating effects as it ravaged their own people first. I guess we're supposed to think the Chinese are simultaneously callous and stupid enough to workshop a biological weapon on themselves first before sending it on a worldwide tour. That seems needlessly complicated.
Someone at the White House reportedly referred to the coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu" -- while talking to CBS reporter Weijia Jiang. Almost 9,000 people have died in China from the coronavirus. That's three 9/11s. I think Americans might've been touchy about officials in foreign governments coming up with “funny" names for the terrorist attacks just a few weeks later.
Kellyanne Conway, one of the worst people ever, played the husband card Wednesday when confronted about the “Kung-Flu" remark. She demanded reporters tell her who the racist was at the White House -- specifically the racist who said “Kung-Flu" because you can't speak in generalities when discussing racists at the White House.
CONWAY: I'd like to know who it is. I'm not going to engage in hypotheticals. I'm married to an Asian.
CONWAY: My kids are ... partly.
George Conway, who has terrible taste in human mates, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He's the kind of “no identity politics" conservative who'd make that distinction. His mother was born in the Philippines, which is not China. They wouldn't know what the fuck a "Kung-Flu" is.
Racial slurs and othering is also useful when you're planning to wage war against a country recovering from a viral outbreak. Conservatives are now openly blaming China with the likely hope that Americans won't blame Trump at the ballot box.
“Producing" the coronavirus implies scientists in secret labs creating a weapon. Last week, Senator Tom Cotton said America will hold China “accountable" for “inflicting" the coronavirus on the land of the free. Conservatives are even borrowing from the “radical Islam" playbook and suggesting that overly PC liberals who make a fuss about the “Chinese virus" are soft on pandemics.
It really does feel like we're building up to a war. Conservatives need something to shoot and a virus is too small. The good news is that no annoying liberals can protest the war. They'll all be sheltering in place.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).