Saturday, February 08, 2020

Expired Snowflake Says "Wuhan Coronavirus" - Name is WAYCISS!!!

salon |  Some day, I will draw up a visual flowchart to explain how epidemics are named for the public. Specifically, there is a logic employed by both the media and the scientific community, though neither speak it aloud. It starts with the question of where the virus originates: is it currently spreading in the US, or in another Western country? If so, give it its numerical designation (e.g. H1N1), or reference the animal in which we think it started (e.g. Swine Flu, or Mad Cow Disease). 

But if it started in a country that Americans have stereotypes towards, naming it after that region — as with Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Asian Flu, and now, Wuhan Coronavirus — is a great way to play on xenophobic and racist tropes. 

Yes, that means that white supremacy can be a factor even in the way that we name viruses — such as when the language around it, purportedly objective and scientific, stems from a white-centered, xenophobic perspective. Fears over a possible pandemic over the 2019-nCoV coronavirus (tagged by most media outlets, including the New York Times, the "Wuhan Coronavirus") has transmogrified into unchecked xenophobia and racism, with children being barred from music lessons and people running away from any person who looks East Asian. In New York City there have been several reports of assaults on Asian people, an assailant punching and kicking a woman, calling her a "diseased b*tch," and Trump-enabled racists @-ing him on Twitter, suggesting the entire country of China should be "nuked."

Trump's overheated rhetoric on migrants and people of color — and "s**thole countries," as he calls much of the world — are absolutely fanning the flames of the racist response to the Coronavirus. Yet it is important to recognize that this bias against Asians is nothing new; that the engine of white supremacist culture and language continually hums underground until something like 2019-nCoV makes it visible.

The idea that Asians are dirty, eat strange foods, and are vectors of disease has existed for as long as Asians have been in the U.S., and these ideas continue to exist today. In the 1850s, Chinese immigration was first welcomed because of our growing country's dire need for labor, and the Chinese were admired for their reputation as hard, uncomplaining workers.

In subsequent years, when the continued influx of immigration began to threaten the job prospects for white laborers, calls for immigration restrictions began alongside rumors that the Chinese were disease vectors. During an outbreak of smallpox in San Francisco in 1876, a population of 30,000 Chinese living there became medical scapegoats, Chinatown was blamed as a "laboratory of infection," and quarantined amidst renewed calls to halt immigration. The Chinese Exclusion Act, the first immigration law based on race, was enacted in 1882.