This is a bad look, and a testament to how poor her political instincts are.
1. Bleating about terminology sounds impossibly trivial at a moment when the administration is scrambling to manage a looming disaster in New York and beyond.
2. The virus did in fact originate in China and there’s virtue in reminding people of that at a moment when the scumbag Chinese government is trying to hide its own culpability in the spread of the disease by blaming it on the U.S. Army.
3. The American public is in no mood to sympathize with China’s regime, and so attacking Trump on this point is apt to backfire by generating sympathy for him.
4. There are many valid reasons to criticize the president and his deputies for their performance lately, starting with the CDC’s catastrophic failure on testing and Trump’s own Orwellian attempts to pretend he recognized a major crisis brewing from early on. “It’s racist to remind people that the virus started in China” is the weakest possible play.
This clip isn’t going to hurt him, rest assured…
When asked why he continues to call it the “Chinese virus” the President’s response is “because it comes from China, it’s not racist at all” pic.twitter.com/P20TgRdXbY
— Acyn (@Acyn) March 18, 2020
…no matter how much Hillary wishes it did:
The president is turning to racist rhetoric to distract from his failures to take the coronavirus seriously early on, make tests widely available, and adequately prepare the country for a period of crisis.
Don't fall for it. Don't let your friends and family fall for it.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 18, 2020
Why is this person, one of least popular major politicians in America, still inserting herself into public debates? Who does she think she’s helping? Democrats have a new nominee who’s far more likable than she is. If someone’s going to run interference for the Chinese government, you’d think Democrats would at least want to leave it to him.
Here’s a report from the Times of London, published two weeks ago, that’s making the rounds on political Twitter today. Headline: “Chinese scientists destroyed proof of virus in December.”
Chinese laboratories identified a mystery virus as a highly infectious new pathogen by late December last year, but they were ordered to stop tests, destroy samples and suppress the news, a Chinese media outlet has revealed.
A regional health official in Wuhan, centre of the outbreak, demanded the destruction of the lab samples that established the cause of unexplained viral pneumonia on January 1. China did not acknowledge there was human-to-human transmission until more than three weeks later.
The WHO was pushing Chinese disinformation about the disease weeks later, in mid-January:
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China🇨🇳. pic.twitter.com/Fnl5P877VG
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 14, 2020
Jim Geraghty wrote about the Chinese government’s culpability two days ago. They allowed Chinese New Year celebrations to proceed after transmission had begun and then allowed some five million people to leave Wuhan province without screening before the lockdown, when they already had reason to suspect person-to-person transmission. Calling it the “Chinese virus” now is defensible not just because that’s the nation where the virus originated, it’s because that’s the nation where the virus was enabled.
Terrible. We desperately need accurate reporting from China. The pandemic originated in Wuhan & was initially covered up by Chinese authorities. University of Southampton study found there would have been a 95% REDUCTION in cases & less spread if Beijing intervened 3 wks sooner. https://t.co/YJRCxYH5Sa
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) March 18, 2020
They expelled American journalists just yesterday, probably because they know the virus will begin spreading again as the Wuhan lockdown eases and they want to try to cover it up when it does to the greatest extent possible. (“Chinese totalitarianism has beaten the disease!” is good propaganda at a moment when the west is drowning in contagion.) To whine about terminology at a moment when the Chinese government is trying to whitewash its mistakes by convincing people that this is really “the American virus” is itself an Orwellian act.
The best argument for dialing back the “Chinese virus” nomenclature is that tensions with China right now can only retard our own efforts to limit the virus here. We do, alas, still depend heavily on Chinese supply chains; if Chinese scientists develop an effective treatment for the disease, we’ll obviously want to avail ourselves of their knowledge. It’s in everyone’s interest to play nice. For now.
But the day is coming when that interest will change, not just for us but for lots of countries. And Beijing knows it.
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