Trump Is Inciting a Coronavirus Culture War to Save HimselfBreaking News
tags: racism, China, culture war, Donald Trump, coronavirus
Even before Trump’s adoption of Chinese virus, Asian Americans had been facing a wave of discrimination, harassment, and violence in response to the epidemic. The president’s rhetoric did not start this backlash, but the decision to embrace the term Chinese virus reinforced the association between a worldwide pandemic and people of a particular national origin. Legitimizing that link with all the authority of the office of the president of the United States is not just morally abhorrent, but dangerous.
The president’s now-constant use of Chinese virus is the latest example of a conservative phenomenon you might call the racism rope-a-dope (with apologies to the late boxer Muhammad Ali, who coined the latter half of the term to describe his strategy of luring an opponent into wearing himself out). Trump and his acolytes are never more comfortable than when they are defending expressions of bigotry as plain common sense, and accusing their liberal critics of being oversensitive snowflakes who care more about protecting “those people” than they do about you. They seek to reduce any political dispute to this simple equation whenever possible. “I want them to talk about racism every day,” the former Trump adviser Steve Bannon told The American Prospect in 2017. “If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”
In this instance, though, the gambit served two additional purposes: distracting the public from Trump’s catastrophic mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, and disguising the fact that Trump’s failures stemmed from his selfishness and fondness for authoritarian leaders, which in turn made him an easy mark for the Chinese government’s disinformation.
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