We are in the throes of a worldwide pandemic that threatens our health, our economic stability, and in some cases even our lives. The President has been dangerously passive, even calling the coronavirus pandemic a “hoax” in the early days after the disease’s arrival in the U.S. More recently, he has refused to assume leadership of the government response, among other things allowing an acute shortage of testing kits and protective medical gear to persist.
Trump has tried to distract us from his continuing failure to take effective, medically-warranted action by blaming all our problems on the Chinese government’s initial response to the outbreak. Other Republicans are now taking up this story, even embellishing it. At least two House resolutions would amplify it. A Senator has announced an intention to take up the campaign in the Senate.
Both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control have advised against associating the coronavirus with a particular country, because doing so fuels xenophobia. It subjects people who look like they may be from that country to insult and physical assault. That is happening now in the United States. Since the arrival of the coronavirus, people who appear to be of Asian descent have been the victims of attacks by people who blame China for the outbreak. These assaults have involved the risk of serious physical harm – for example, a schoolchild had to go to the emergency room after being struck by other students, a woman was beaten in a subway station, and a man was hit over the head at a bus stop, in each case by attackers yelling anti-Chinese invective. The assaults have increased in number as more politicians and the media that support them have trumpeted an association between the virus and China. Of course, these victims, all living in the United States, had nothing to do with and no ability to affect the actions of the Chinese government regarding the coronavirus. And of course, this rhetoric is purely diversionary; it does nothing to address the spread of the virus.
Republicans are now escalating their efforts to shift Americans’ attention away from the President’s disastrous performance in the face of the pandemic. Members of the House of Representatives have introduced a resolution demanding an international investigation of the Chinese government’s actions and evidence in support of a potential financial claim against it. A senator endorsed this step. Another House resolution would accuse the Chinese government of mishandling the pandemic in its early stages.
These actions would further promote xenophobia and violence against people of Asian descent in the United States. They would do nothing to advance efforts to combat the coronavirus. They are consistent with the President’s approach to the pandemic from the start: to treat it as a public relations problem for him rather than a threat to the nation’s health. Speak out now against efforts to whip up xenophobia and use it as a political weapon. Call your representatives in Congress.
Here’s a proposed script: I urge you to oppose any action by Congress that would promote xenophobia against Asian-Americans. There are at least two proposed resolutions pending in the House and at least one demand for similar action in the Senate, all of which would promote prejudice and even physical risk to Asian-Americans without helping in any way to reduce the spread of the pandemic.
Contact Representative Don Beyer at https://beyer.house.gov/
Contact Senator Mark Warner at https://www.warner.senate.gov/public/
Contact Senator Tim Kaine at https://www.kaine.senate.gov/