Even though COVID-19 originated in China and became a global pandemic because the Chinese government prioritized containing information about the outbreak rather than the outbreak itself, Richard Engel of NBC condemned the phrase “Chinese Virus,” referring to it as a “scapegoat.”
“It’s easy to scapegoat people and that is what has always happened in pandemics or epidemics. Foreigners are attacked, foreigners sometimes physically attacked,” said Engel on Wednesday.
Engel then invoked the Middle-Ages as an example of people scapegoating outsiders during pandemics, portraying the country of China as a victim of scapegoating.
“If you looked at what happened during the Middle-Ages, there was lots and lots of scapegoating against an ethnic group or religious group whenever there were pandemics that affected the society and frightened a lot of people,” he said.
“China certainly feels like that is what is happening now with people calling it the Wuhan flu or the Wuhan virus or the China virus,” he continued.
As to the origin of the virus, Engel said that people should see it as a “bat virus,” seemingly side-stepping that the Chinese “wet markets” enabled people to come in contact with such an animal.
“This is a virus that came from the territory of China but came from bats,” said Engel. “This is a bat virus, not a China virus. It doesn’t speak Chinese. It doesn’t target Chinese people. It targets human beings who happen to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.”
.@RichardEngel: "This is a virus that came from the territory of China but came from bats. This is a bat virus, not a China virus. It doesn't speak Chinese. It doesn't target Chinese people. It targets human beings who happen to touch their eyes, nose or mouth." pic.twitter.com/ljQeT7UQam
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 18, 2020
Setting aside the fact that the Chinese government aggressively tamped down on whistleblowers trying to raise awareness about the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chinese “wet market” trade deserves a closer look. From Business Insider:
The Wuhan coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is likely to have started in a wet market in Wuhan in the Chinese province of Hubei. The markets are known for selling both live and dead animals, often in poorly regulated conditions.
The Wuhan coronavirus is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it originated in animals. Some experts have suggested the novel coronavirus spread from bats, to snakes, to people, though many others say snakes are a highly unlikely intermediary species (a mammal is more probable). China initially imposed a ban on live animal sales in the city of Wuhan in light of the outbreak.
With that in mind, as Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro rightly pointed out, the use of the term “Chinese Virus” is both accurate and necessary, if Western countries are to rethink their relationship with the authoritarian country.
Richard Engel is also far from the only one to condemn the use of the phrase “Chinese Virus.” On Wednesday, none other than Whoopi Goldberg of “The View” said that people should see the virus as a byproduct of mother nature, not China.
“You know, people as we’ve seen, people start punching people, Asian folks out, you know, will attack,” said Whoopi Goldberg. “So we need to stop calling it or labeling it like it’s they did it to us. Mother Nature really did this to us.”
When asked if his use of the term “Chinese Virus” had any racial connotations, President Donald Trump said on Wednesday, “It’s from China. It’s not racist at all, no. Not at all. It comes from China. That’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate.”