This is from Al Jazeera: (March 23) US President Donald Trump has defended repeatedly calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus” during a news conference, ignoring criticism that it is racist. “It’s not racist at all,” Trump said, explaining his reasoning after a reporter told him many consider it racist. “It comes from China, that’s why.” China experts argue that labeling the virus this way will only increase tensions between the two countries and encourage xenophobia. Asian-Americans have reported incidents of racial slurs and physical abuse over the perception that China caused COVID-19.
On March 23, the United States had 43,000 cases of COVID-19 (of course, one could argue that we had a hundred thousand more lurking uncounted due to lack of testing). But China still led the world in confirmed cases. What a difference three weeks makes. America now has three times the number of cases as the next highest country, COVID-19 is now, unequivocally the American Virus.
That’s it. That’s all I wanted to write. I’ve had this sentiment in my head for a couple of weeks. Thinking back to Trump smugly pointing fingers vaguely across the ocean, explaining to the American people how Italy and Iran screwed up their virus containment.
I hoped to turn this into a story, but I couldn’t get beyond my first paragraph. Short. Maybe this is better suited for Facebook. I told a blogging friend I planned to write this—maybe that’s why I’m trying. She’s Chinese. She wrote about the dramatic increase of racism against Asians.
Al Jazeera: “And do you think, using the term ‘Chinese virus’, that puts Asian-Americans at risk, that people might target them?” A reporter asked at the news conference. “No, not at all,” Trump reiterated. “I think they probably would agree with it one-hundred percent. (The virus) comes from China.”
Maybe yes, maybe no. Things aren’t always what they seem. The Spanish Flu didn’t come from Spain. In fact, that one might have started right here in the United States. But clearly, by calling it the Chinese virus, Trump aims to foster an us versus them dynamic. Us against the Muslims. Us against the Mexicans. Us against the Chinese. Canada, Germany, England, Greenland, France. While researching Trump quotes to write my original essay plan, I thought about Trump’s America First mindset. It’s easy for him to put America first. He doesn’t like anyone else.
I keep reading advice columns that say I shouldn’t squander all of the extra time I have right now. People are exploring their creative side. My kids cook a new dessert almost every day. Eli made a really cool spear, one hundred percent lethal, but clever and beautiful too. This afternoon, Sophie cut Eli’s hair. She just started knitting. They’re actualizing. Me, I have less time than I ever did.
Work is still an eight-hour day. But now that everyone works from home, the email conversation continues after quitting time. When I knock off for the night, my kids pounce. “Hey, let’s do something,” they say. My big artistic achievement of four weeks in quarantine is the mustache I grew.
Sometimes I believe the United States’ exponential, rampant, unbridled growth of COVID-19 is punishment for the way we as a country have behaved for the past three years. We’ve mistreated the world. Karma? I imagine small snickers from out-of-the-way corners. People shaking their heads, sarcastically thinking “it couldn’t have happened to a nicer group.”
Every day, I read the peak is near. Things will start to settle down. The country is almost ready to reopen. I’ll believe it when I see it. For now, what I see is the American virus engulf country after country. I wonder when, how, if it will stop.