Friday, April 17, 2020

Bill Maher and Coronavirus Controversy

It's rare that Bill Maher and I are on the same side of an issue. But Maher recently pointed out something that was previously posted on this blog. The coronavirus apparently started in Wuhan, China. It is not racist to say that.

Maher did not put on yellowface and say that the virus started in China. He didn't pull up the sides of his eyelids, use racial slurs for Chinese, or deliberately affect a bad Chinese accent. Maher didn't start ranting that the pandemic proved that Chinese were inferior and should be repatriated from Western nations or exterminated altogether. 
All Maher said was that the virus started in China and that it would be nice if the Chinese government shut down wet markets, which at this time, are considered to be the most likely culprits. Those are true and accurate statements. But of course some people thought that saying that the virus started in China is proof that one is racist:

How is saying the virus started in China "racist"? That makes no sense. That's saying that if someone of a different race does something wrong to me I can't say that he or she did something wrong.

It goes beyond silly to downright stupid when you consider that in China over the past few weeks Chinese have been insulting, harassing, discriminating against and evicting Africans and African-Americans as well.

The African community in Guangzhou is on edge after widespread accounts were shared on social media of people being left homeless this week, as China's warnings against imported coronavirus cases stoke anti-foreigner sentiment.

In the southern Chinese city, Africans have been evicted from their homes by landlords and turned away from hotels, despite many claiming to have no recent travel history or known contact with Covid-19 patients.

On Thursday, CNN called 12 hotels in Guangzhou, wanting to book a room for an African guest, and was informed by 10 that they would not be "accepting foreign guests anymore."

Meanwhile, multiple Africans CNN spoke to reported being abruptly evicted from their homes. No one had evidence of a government directive asking landlords or hotels to turn away or reject foreigners. Rather, they say, these appeared to be decisions made by private individuals and business owners.

On Saturday, however, the US Consulate in Guangzhou warned African-Americans to avoid travel to the city. Moreover, local officials launched a round of mandatory tests for Covid-19, followed by mandatory self-quarantine, for anyone with 'African contacts,' regardless of recent travel history or previous quarantine completion. "African-Americans have also reported that some businesses and hotels refuse to do business with them."

It doesn't look as if the Chinese got the whole "People of Color" memo.  They certainly don't seem to be behaving as if they see or want any "solidarity" with people of visible African descent living in China. How dumb would a Black American need to be to carry water for a nationality that is currently showing its unvarnished disdain for Black people? 

Chinese are kicking Black people in the a$$ but I'm supposed to be outraged that Maher said that COVID-19 started in China? How does that work exactly??? 

  • Because of a virus that started in China I'm sitting in my home because my governor and employer have decided that it's too dangerous for me to go to work.
  • Because of a virus that started in China my employer eliminated pay raises, cut some employees' pay, and will likely soon start involuntary separations. So my income, retirement, and health care coverage are at risk.
  • Because of a virus that started in China a relative of mine is at Death's door. And other relatives and friends are in danger. And with no vaccine available we could all be in harm's way for a while.
With all that going on, I have no use for anyone who thinks that it is "racist" to say that COVID-19 started in China. I shouldn't have to risk my life by touching a doorknob in Michigan because some weirdo in Wuhan thinks that bats or pangolins are suitable food sources. If you can't correctly say where the danger began you risk falling prey to the danger again.

Now it's true, as with any horrific error, once you're suffering from it, it's initially more important to fix the problem than to assign blame.

That said, if a mid level accounting analyst made a mistake that delayed compensation to the company officers or caused a higher tax liability to the state or federal government, people in charge would be angry. They would want to know that analyst's name and ensure that he could never do such a thing again. And it's no different with China. It's just that the stakes are life and death, not getting scolded or fired.
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