It was inevitable. For weeks President Trump had been criticized by leftists for allegedly bungling America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. He was charged with not taking the pandemic seriously enough, for saying it would likely go away by itself, and for failing to take steps to adequately prepare America for its coming ordeal. He was given little credit for promptly limiting entry into the United States for travelers from other countries, especially China. And just as he’s beginning to win some degree of praise for his change of tone, for his abandonment of happy talk in favor of the blunt expression of hard facts, and for his decisiveness in directing federal aid to state and local governments—his actions have won the approval of no less than New York’s Democratic Governor, Andrew Cuomo, and California’s Democratic Governor, Gavin Newsom—he’s hit with a new charge: Racism, for calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus.”
On the face of it, President Trump’s reason for calling the coronavirus the Chinese virus would seem reasonable enough: As he put it, “It comes from China.” Moreover, he evidently believes it important to refute one of the nastier lies being slobbered about by the Chinese government: According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the coronavirus was produced and released by the United States Army. No doubt the Chinese government would love to call the virus the “American virus” if it could get away with doing so.
Yet President Trump’s critics say that by calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” he’s inducing racist outrage against Americans of Chinese descent, as well as against Americans descended from other oriental nationalities as well. They cite instances of assaults by racist bigots against American citizens who, whatever their ethnicity, are absolutely blameless for the plague unleashed on us. This, of course, is standard operating procedure for the President’s critics, who do their best to trace any act of racism anywhere in the world—for example, the mass murder of New Zealand Muslims by the disciple of a Norwegian mass murderer—to the President’s words and deeds. No evidence that the bigots who are praying on Americans of oriental descent are actually motivated by the President is necessary.
Nonetheless, President Trump should follow the advice of several more even-tempered conservative critics and link the virus not to “the Chinese” per se, but to the Chinese Communist Party. One suggested the term “CCP virus.” I personally like “ChiCom virus.”
Adopting a new name for the coronavirus will probably not diminish the degree with which the President’s critics try to attach the “racist” label to him, but it may help focus more attention—and blame—on the true villain of the piece. After all, it is the Chinese Communist Party which has created a brutal totalitarian dictatorship. Like other totalitarian regimes, the chief goal of the CCP’s dictatorship is to maintain complete control over the people it rules, and major tactics are to permit no dissent and admit no error. The first scientist to try to alert the world to the dangers of the coronavirus was arrested, taken into custody, and silenced until he conveniently died–standard operating procedure in a totalitarian regime.
Of course, America’s top priorities must be to slow the spread of the coronavirus; to provide more facilities, equipment, and medicines to treat its victims; and ultimately to find and implement a cure. But given the Chinese government’s negligence, bungling incompetence, and overall mendacity—too put it as charitably as I can–in its initial reaction to the onset of this virus, a full accounting of its actions must someday be made. After all, as someone once said of the coronavirus, “It comes from China.”
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.