Disease and prejudice have long gone hand in hand. We can do better in 2020.
By The Editorial Board
We’ve been down this road before, too many times. In the 14th century the Black Death provoked mass violence against Jews, Catalans, clerics and beggars; when syphilis spread in the 15th century, it was called variously the Neapolitan, French, Polish and German disease, depending on who was pointing the blame; when the plague struck Honolulu in 1899, officials burned down Chinatown. And so on, down to our times, when epidemics like Ebola, SARS and Zika fueled animus toward specific regions or peoples.
Here we are in 2020, with Asians being assailed across the United States and around the world as purported sources of the “Chinese flu,” the “Wuhan coronavirus” or simply the “foreign virus.” Once again, a mysterious, fast-spreading and sometimes lethal disease is exacerbating racism and hatred — only now with the help of the potent megaphone of social media.
As the coronavirus has spread from its beachhead in Wuhan, China, old anti-Asian prejudices have spread with it, from the “Yellow Peril” canard that led to the lynching of Chinese in the 1870s to stereotypes of Chinese as dirty and decrepit.
As The Times reported on Monday, Chinese-Americans and other Asians lumped together with them by racists are being beaten, spat on, yelled at and insulted from coast to coast, driving some members of the maligned minority to purchase firearms in the fear of worse to come as the pandemic deepens.
Read the full article here.