Belle’s Rambling #7: Coronavirus is a Fact, Not a Debate

Hey everyone, it’s Belle. I really hope you are reading this from home, because right now, home is the safest place to be. I know everyone is saying this, but it’s really necessary.

I don’t need to give you all a recap about the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s been all over the news lately, and most places in the world are literally on lockdown. The Summer Olympics got postponed, malls and restaurants are closed, and even celebrities are getting quarantined. Graduations and proms are cancelled, movie release dates are getting pushed back, and basically the whole world’s been turned on its head.

But the thing that’s most puzzling to me is how some people actually think the coronavirus is an issue for political debate.

It would probably help if President Trump and his friends in Congress weren’t using it as an opportunity to start a catfight with China while people are dying.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a classmate who comes from a conservative background. She was complaining that everyone was overreacting and it wasn’t fair that everything was getting shut down. When I brought up that people were dying, she dropped the line I’ve heard way too many times: “It’s just like a regular flu. People die from the flu too and no one shuts everything down. Everyone’s just freaking out because it’s some weird strand from China.”

Thankfully, another of my classmates quickly diffused the situation by bringing up video games, but it was a very uncomfortable experience for me. People can argue about opinions, but you can’t deny facts. The coronavirus is killing thousands of people worldwide, yet some folk still want to sit there and say it’s not a big deal.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that majority of Democrats supported an immediate response when the outbreak started while majority of Republicans took minimal action. The coronavirus has revealed the flaws in the Republican-built healthcare system. And the Republicans in government knew about it. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be trying to sweep a whole pandemic under the rug.

It’s bad enough that they’re trying to cover up their inadequate healthcare program, but it’s even worse to see the distraction they’ve devised: blaming the Chinese.

Look, I know the virus started in China. I know that their government didn’t contain it as quickly as they could have, which allowed it to spread faster. But fueling the notion that the Chinese are strictly to blame for the coronavirus brings out some blatant racism, and the US government isn’t helping. Even if China had the greatest government in the world, they would not have been able to shut down the virus before anyone died. They could not have contained it within their borders because not all infected people are aware they are carrying the virus, and the US government would’ve had a fit if China started detaining American citizens who seemed perfectly healthy and wanted to fly back to the States.

That’s why it is never okay to call COVID-19 the “Chinese virus”. At first glance, it doesn’t sound that offensive – after all, it originated in China. However, “Chinese virus” places the blame on Chinese people as a whole, not the Chinese government. It reinforces the concept that all Chinese people are carriers and enables racism. Let’s face it: not all Americans are smart. If some bumpkin who’s never seen an Asian person before hears that the Chinese are bringing a virus to America, he’s going to be scared for his life when he sees anyone who looks even remotely close to Chinese. And since that bumpkin probably can’t tell the difference between a Chinese person and a Thai or Korean person, that breeds prejudice against all Asians and Asian Americans. I’ve heard quite awful stories about Asians facing an increase in discrimination since the coronavirus outbreak began. Being half Asian, it makes me very uncomfortable to know that some people might perceive me as a threat simply because my mother was born in a country that shares a border with China.

While we’re at it, if we’re naming the virus after a country that had an incompetent response to the outbreak, we could easily call it the American virus. Judging from the death tolls, Trump isn’t doing any better at containing COVID-19 than the Chinese government.

That said, I am trying to have patience with people, because I understand this is a frightening time for all of us. In times of crisis, it’s natural to panic. But it’s not natural for your panic to include racism.

And yes, there are some people who are overreacting, but 9 times out of 10, it’s out of fear rather than malice towards others. Stockpiling pallets of hand sanitizer isn’t going to protect you from the coronavirus. But once again, it’s a national emergency – we need to address this situation with compassion and a willingness to help. Right now, our president isn’t exactly inspiring confidence in his ability to handle the situation…which is basically his job.

We can’t fix the President. He’s on his own. But we can each do our part to keep the nation on track. Stay home. Support Asian businesses. Don’t hoard supplies. And consider voting blue in November.

Yours truly,

Belle

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