As reports of violence perpetrated against Asian-Americans widened in the wake of the Atlanta-area spa murders, Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted doubled down on his declaration that the global pandemic is “the Wuhan virus after all.”
Calling coronavirus the “kung flu,” as former President Donald J. Trump did, was bigoted, according to Washington Post conservative columnist Marc Thiessen, but calling it the “China virus” is not racist. Those who believe otherwise suffer from “wokeness,” he suggested. So, the state of being aware of social problems has become an affliction.
Mr. Husted insisted that his reference to Wuhan, the city in central China that is the focus of research into the origin of the coronavirus, had nothing to do with Chinese people and everything to do with their government. He cited former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield’s belief that the coronavirus originated in a Wuhan laboratory.
Never mind that it was Dr. Redfield’s right-wing credentials that won his appointment to the CDC position by Mr. Trump. His background notably includes association with Americans for a Sound AIDS/HIV Policy, which maintained that AIDS was “God’s judgment” against homosexuals.
Apparently, Mr. Husted is in good company with the likes of Dr. Redfield, Mr. Trump and Mr. Thiessen.
As a 19-year-old sent to Vietnam in 1969, it didn’t take me long to distinguish the difference between the good Vietnamese people whom I came to know and respect and the authoritarian communists who sought to kill freedom-loving people of all races.
Yes, it is unfortunate that hateful people are motivated by the “kung flu,” “Wuhan virus” or “China virus” to impose racist violence upon my fellow Americans of Asian descent. It also is unfortunate that certain people of influence fail to acknowledge the recklessness of their words.
So far, the investigation into the March 16 murders of eight spa employees, including six Asian-American women, has not determined whether it was a hate crime. But don’t tell Asian-Americans they have nothing to fear. According to an analysis by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, hate crimes reported in 16 large U.S. cities actually decreased overall between 2019 and 2020. But hate crimes against people of Asian descent increased by 150 percent from 49 in 2019 to 122 last year. Among the analyzed cities, those hate crimes increased from two to six in Cleveland.
As for Dr. Redfield’s unsupported belief in the Wuhan lab connection, the World Health Organization has been rigorously investigating that possibility. As reported March 29, WHO downplays the possibility of a leak from a lab and says the coronavirus most likely jumped from animals to humans.
The source of the pandemic is still undetermined, according to research scientists, but the closest related viruses were found in bats more than 1,000 miles away from Wuhan.
Defenders of the “Wuhan virus” or “China virus” like Mr. Husted and Mr. Thiessen are prone to connect it with the originations of MERS, the Middle East respiratory syndrome, first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012; Ebola, found near the Ebola River in the Congo in 1976; Zika, discovered in Uganda’s Zika Forest in 1947; and West Nile virus, first isolated in Uganda in 1937.
Ignorance is not bliss, however, when they add to their list the Spanish flu of 1918, which was discovered in Kansas and traced to the Great Plains but was first reported by the untethered World War I-era press of neutral Spain. References to German measles, whose origination is unknown but was first described by a German physician in 1619, must be the epitome of wokeness.
Mr. Lange is the retired editor of the Chagrin Valley Times.