By Liu Yang
The novel coronavirus pandemic has put every country’s government to test. Leaders have to act, society has to mobilize, but before that the public needs to have confidence in their leaders. True, there will be fear, but as Martin Luther King Jr. said, fear motivates us. Fear could also drive people to think, prepare, and to act. But to do that, people need correct information.
However, some countries’ politicians have been playing the blame game over the pandemic and, in the process, distorting facts. For example, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly called the novel coronavirus the “Wuhan virus” and tried to write the term into the joint statement of the recent G7 foreign ministers’ meeting.
And although US President Donald Trump stopped referring to the novel coronavirus using a racist term last week, all this naming and blaming has undermined the global fight against the pandemic.
Many in the United States still have a vivid memory of the H1N1 swine flu outbreak in 2009-the first influenza outbreak to be declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Since the first two H1N1 flu cases were reported from California, some tended to pin the blame for the outbreak on the US. On the other hand, Michael Savage, a radio host, claimed it was “brought” to the US by illegal immigrants from Mexico.
The origin of a virus is important for virologists and epidemiologists, because it helps them to design a better control and prevention system. However, associating a virus with a specific place or a particular ethnic group is offensive. And given the experience of the H1N1 flu, the American people should know that better than anyone else.
Combining speculation with discrimination, some also used labeling in a bid to name and shame an ethnic group or place after the severe acute respiratory syndrome, Ebola and H1N1 flue epidemics broke out.
Despite this being a global war against the novel coronavirus, Tom Cotton, a US senator, has insisted to “hold China accountable”.
For those whose minds are attuned to power rivalry, they are capable of only replicating this mental exercise during every crisis. And in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, such people get some form of comfort by targeting China.
As the Italian theorist Georgio Agamben said, securitization, which leads to the state of exception, ruins the role of democracy as the organizing principle of political life. Those who tend to ride on manipulated hatred suffer a deep sense of loss, as they tend to believe they are losing a power competition. Which is symbolic of admitted decline.
The novel coronavirus respects no borders, nor does it have any affinity to any ideology. In a bizarre way, it has created a dialectical global binding. Whereas the globe has no choice but to be a whole, individual states have been put to test to determine which can better protect its people. So it is natural for people to have their own opinion on which state is more capable.
Notwithstanding the different opinions, however, the novel coronavirus has brought humans to a Kantian cosmopolitan moment: You don’t necessarily like others, but you have to live with them. So you’d better work together to protect all or bring upon universal misery by creating divisions.
–The Daily Mail-China Daily news exchange item