Repeatedly Calling It A Chinese Virus Is Racist And A Deflection Of Blame

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The US has had a long history of racism against Chinese, beginning with the 1871 Chinese massacre in Los Angeles, 1882 Chinese exclusion laws, 1921 and 1924 immigration laws establishing a national origins formula to further exclude Asians and others, yellow peril stories beginning in the early 1900s epitomized by the Fu Manchu character in the 1930s, and jingoistic mistrust of Chinese during the Cold War and now under a Trump administration at war with the Chinese over trade and which nation will lead in the 21st century.

Against this background, Mr. Trump is aggressively inflaming Americans against persons of East Asian origin in the country by repeatedly calling the novel coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” while another in his administration just referred to it as the “Kung flu.” Inflammation appears to be working even in a city as diverse and ethnically tolerant as New York as seen even in this law firm’s anecdotal experience of one of our Chinese-American staff member’s two incidents within the past week, one that she witnessed of a man on the New York subway threatening Asians wearing face masks when one coughed, and the other this morning of another man cursing her when she lightly coughed (right outside Penn Station) with her mask on.

This constant emphasis on blaming the Chinese has escalated tensions across the country and highlighted Asian businesses to such a negative degree that business owners have faced colossal losses even though just about all Chinese-American citizens, permanent residents originating from China, and visitors from China are virus free due to the China travel ban, and the riskiest populations are from Europe and the Middle East with Italy and Iran leading in current contagious spread. In New York City, much of the infection was spread by a Jewish attorney from New Rochelle.

While saying the term once or twice serves as a denial to the China made rumor that the new coronavirus was brought to China by the US military (obviously someone in China read about the origins of the Spanish flu of 1918), the world at large is already cognizant of its origins. Yet Mr. Trump is using a megaphone consistently to assign blame to a known fact.

To what end the blame? The answer is diversion from the horrible job that the president has done from the very beginning to contain the virus. From abolishing the National Security Council Directorate for Global Health and Security and Bio Defense to believing that he could “wall” off the coronavirus to saying that it was a “hoax” and not taking it seriously to not having a plan in place and failing miserably to listen to public health experts and coordinate government response early in the crisis, his handling of the situation has been haphazard and dumbfounding. While Hong Kong and Singapore have solved the coronaviruses in their countries through huge amounts of testing and contact tracing, the US has fallen so far behind that it appears the only viable strategy is social distancing and lockdowns.

Mr. Trump is clearly not an advocate of Harry Truman’s famous desk sign, “The Buck Stops Here,” but an advocate of buckpassing. Repeated and continual use of the “Chinese virus” term is an attempt to deflect blame. Yet we do not need a president in this crisis to throw off blame and in so doing put the lives and property of Asians in this country at peril, but a president who accepts the blame without caring whether he is reelected or not, and moves the country forward to solve the predicament.


About The Author

Alan Lee, Esq. Alan Lee, Esq. is an exclusive practitioner of immigration law based in New York City with an AV preeminent rating in the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory for 20+ years, registered in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, on the New York Super Lawyers list (2011-12, 2013-14, 2014-2015, 2015-2019), and recognized as a New York Area Top Rated Lawyer. He has written extensively on immigration over the past years for Interpreter Releases, Immigration Daily, and the ethnic newspapers, World Journal, Sing Tao, Epoch Times, Pakistan Calling, Muhasba and OCS; testified as an expert on immigration in civil court proceedings; and is a regular contributor to Martindale-Hubbell’s Ask-a-Lawyer program. His article, "The Bush Temporary Worker Proposal and Comparative Pending Legislation: an Analysis" was Interpreter Releases' cover display article at the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in 2004; his 2004 case in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Firstland International v. INS, successfully challenged Legacy INS' policy of over 40 years of revoking approved immigrant visa petitions under a nebulous standard of proof, although its central holding that the government had to notify approved immigrant petition holders of the revocation prior to the their departure to the U. S. for the petition to be able to be revoked was short-lived as it was specifically targeted in the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 (which in response changed the language of the revocation statute itself). Yet Firstland lives on as precedent that the government must comply with nondiscretionary duties established in law, and such failure is reviewable in federal courts. His 2015 case, Matter of Leacheng International, Inc., with the Administrative Appeals Office of USCIS (AAO) set nation-wide standards on the definition of “doing business” for multinational executives and managers to gain immigration benefits.


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