Why Words Matter in Times of the Covid-19 Outbreak

History has shown us countless times that fear leads to hatred. The first case of the deadly virus Covid-19 originated in Wuhan, China which has now affected most of the world: with millions in quarantine and countries in complete lockdown, the disease has spread rapidly and internationally.

When people are scared, they start to panic. We’ve seen this in grocery stores: shelves completely empty, panicked shoppers hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and canned goods.

However, when people start to panic, it also turns to a dangerous form of hatred. Since the beginning of the outbreak, hate crimes against Asians have surfaced. People who aren’t even Chinese are called racial slurs and brutally beaten in the streets, having people yell at them “Coronavirus, get out of our country!” Asians have become the scapegoat for this deadly virus. And it definitely isn’t helpful when powerful politicians like Donald Trump says stuff like this: "The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!"

Associating the virus with Chinese people fuels misinformation and hatred. It creates a division between Chinese people and everybody else, labelling Asia as the enemy. In reality, the only enemy is the virus itself.

Especially in times like these, we must be kind to one another. We cannot turn on each other. Not to mention that it is downright racist and cruel to point fingers to an entire ethnic community. It is 2020 yet racism remains prevalent in everyday life.

Even further, Jesse Watters became infamous on Fox News for demanding an apology from China for starting the virus, claiming that “Chinese people are hungry and eating bats and snakes.” For starters, nobody should have to apologize for anything. If Covid-19 began in the U.S, no other country would be expecting an apology, so a great deal of hypocrisy is evident here. Look at the H1N1 outbreak back in 2009: nobody called it the “American Flu.”

Secondly, China had absolutely no intention of starting this virus. Watters is acting as if China wanted thousands of their own people dead and sick. Third, Watters is not a minority, so he doesn’t understand the impact that his words have on the Asian community. Asians are already getting a bad rep, but now parents have to add the fear of their children being harassed or bullied by their peers. Will classmates go up to them and ask, “Hey do you guys actually eat bats?” on top of the already conceived notion that Asians eat dogs and cats.

We should be coming together as a community. We should be empathetic now more than ever. Racism is not the answer, and it definitely won’t cure us.