BREAKING NEWS Five new Covid-19 cases reported in Shasta County Saturday Full Story
BREAKING NEWS Mission Fire burns structure in Tehama County Full Story

Trump's malicious use of 'Chinese virus'

Article Image

CNN's John King says President Trump seemed to be "deliberately" singling out China and using a stigmatizing term to refer to the novel coronavirus.

Posted: Mar 19, 2020 1:01 AM
Updated: Mar 19, 2020 1:01 AM

When Donald Trump wants to rally his base and distract from his many screw-ups, he falls back on one thing: xenophobic racism.

It looks like members of his administration have picked up this dirty trick.

Earlier this week, CBS reporter Weijia Jiang (disclosure: she is a friend) tweeted that a member of the Trump administration had called the coronavirus "Kung-Flu" when talking to her. She is Chinese American. "Makes me wonder what they're calling it behind my back," she wrote.

Trump himself sent out a tweet Monday calling Covid-19 "the Chinese virus," and then repeated it Wednesday as he began a televised news conference in which he invoked the Defense Production Act. It's an intentional bit of provocation and racism that evokes the turn-of-the-century "yellow peril," when Americans and Europeans fear-mongered about allegedly dangerous East Asians.

In 1882, the United States passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese immigrants from coming to the country -- not so very different from Trump's own racist and fear-mongering 2017 travel ban that predominantly targets Muslim-majority countries.

Reactionary media, self-interested political figures and racist whites portrayed East Asians as dangerous "others" back then, and blamed Chinese people for taking "white jobs." (Is any of this sounding familiar yet?) The result? Decades of discriminatory immigration policies, discrimination in housing and education and violence against Asian people, including mass atrocities.

Pandemics are frightening because you can't see a virus. Throughout human history, rampaging illnesses have regularly been blamed on some outside force, from God sending down a pestilence, to -- more often -- unfamiliar outsiders or unpopular minorities allegedly bringing in disease, along with other traditions and practices that the dominant group is quick to deem dirty or morally wrong. European Jews were blamed for the Black Death and massacred.

People living in rural areas have blamed city dwellers for polio; HIV was initially blamed on gay men. Scapegoats and new diseases have often gone together, often to lift blame from the people in charge.

When there's a lack of information, you understand why everyday people grasp at the nearest possible explanation. But the President of the United States? There's no excuse. The President's indirection and obfuscation in the face of scientific evidence has put citizens at risk, as he invites them to think of the disease as "Chinese" and not a wholly American crisis sweeping our nation.

This President isn't acting out of ignorance; he's acting out of malice. He has screwed up the coronavirus response royally, downplaying the threat with ludicrous pronouncements in front of TV cameras, while his health care officials issued grave warnings. He said it will pass soon, that warm weather will help and other nonsense. On January 30, he said, "We only have five people. Hopefully, everything's going to be great."

On February 2, he told Sean Hannity of Fox News: "Well, we pretty much shut it down coming in from China. ... We've offered China help, but we can't have thousands of people coming in who may have this problem, the coronavirus."

Americans are sick and dying -- and it's going to get worse, in large part because of the administration has been slow to make testing available. For this, he said in a recent news conference, "I don't take responsibility at all." But he knows someone has to shoulder the blame.

So he blames a "Chinese virus." A reporter asked him Wednesday why he keeps calling it this. He replied, "'Cause it comes from China. It's not racist at all, no, not at all. It comes from China, that's why. I want to be accurate."

He added -- making plain that even in a national emergency, it was revenge, not accuracy or the safety and well-being of citizens that was on his mind -- "I have great love for all of the people from our country, but as you know, China tried to say at one point ... that it was caused by American soldiers. That can't happen, it's not going to happen, not as long as I'm President. It comes from China."

And, of course, China being an authoritarian state hasn't helped. As much as some are trumpeting the ability of the Chinese to quickly lock down millions, the real story is that the Chinese government did as authoritarians do: They misled, withholding information from the public until the crisis was at full tilt. Anyone in the chain of command who thought this was the wrong thing could not, or did not, speak out. (A Chinese official did indeed blame the presence of the virus in Wuhan on the US military.)

It's that strategy that Trump, troublingly, is adopting, as he also falls back on his usual tactic of blaming someone else.

The Trump administration official who allegedly made a racist comment to a reporter isn't an anomaly; he or she is following the contemptuous example of a bigoted boss. That Jiang tweeted it is an act of bravery, transparency and integrity.

In the midst of the crisis, we need more of what Jiang is bringing, and a whole lot less of the presidential fecklessness and Trump Team racism that puts us all at greater risk.

Hunker down; the worst is yet to come.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 318761

Reported Deaths: 7027
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1303943795
Riverside24765537
Orange23901421
San Diego19371422
San Bernardino18912304
Fresno790687
Imperial7827135
Alameda7725148
Kern633997
San Joaquin627968
Santa Clara5983166
Tulare5678152
Sacramento533981
Stanislaus463351
Contra Costa460589
San Francisco442650
Ventura424653
San Mateo3949112
Santa Barbara393131
Marin343430
Kings289839
Monterey254018
Solano207528
Merced188412
Sonoma165014
Placer105511
San Luis Obispo9054
Madera8938
Yolo83928
Santa Cruz5683
Napa4774
Sutter3724
Butte3384
San Benito3362
El Dorado3070
Lassen2750
Shasta1876
Yuba1803
Humboldt1654
Glenn1640
Nevada1631
Colusa1130
Mendocino1130
Lake1081
Tehama1041
Calaveras670
Tuolumne640
Del Norte600
Mono501
Siskiyou410
Amador400
Inyo341
Mariposa311
Plumas170
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
93° wxIcon
Hi: 104° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 93°
Oroville
Clear
93° wxIcon
Hi: 105° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 93°
Paradise
Clear
93° wxIcon
Hi: 97° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 93°
Chester
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 83°
Red Bluff
Clear
97° wxIcon
Hi: 105° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 97°
Willows
Clear
93° wxIcon
Hi: 107° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 93°
There is a Red Flag Warning in Modoc county today and tomorrow with temperatures getting as hot as 110 degrees for some in the Valley by Wednesday.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events