Coronavirus Xenophobia

Misnomers of COVID-19 are often xenophic and misinformed.

In the recent month, there has been an outbreak of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, across the world. Friday, I was supposed to be leaving for France for an International Media Seminar with a university-sponsored course. However, last Thursday, I received news from my professor the trip was going to be cancelled due to the worsening numbers of the virus in France. There are a total of 2,281 cases with 48 deaths in the country, according to Worldometer. Museums, including the infamous Louvre, were closed, and France just started banning 1,000+ gatherings to contain the virus.

The spread of the virus is nerve-wracking, especially because the flu is also spreading in the United States and affecting the general population. There are heightened fears as the country just received its first couple of cases in the past week, and now the numbers have risen to 1,109 cases and 31 deaths, also according to Worldometer. In Ohio, there have been three confirmed cases in Cuyahoga County with Gov. Mike DeWine declaring a state of emergency. The Ohio State University also took preventative measures by suspending in-person courses in fear of the coronavirus, and the university took the same precautionary measures for COVID-19. In a month’s time, this disease has been deemed a pandemic, and with the determinate, there is now the pandemic of xenophobia. 

I’m scared — not of contracting the disease — but of being quarantined, especially if I was to be in France, not in the comfort of my own home nor country. Other people are possibly scared, too, understandably, but it does not justify xenophobia towards Asians or Asian-Americans. 

Especially on this campus, it should not be (and will not be, hopefully) tolerated whatsoever. 

I’m tired of hearing about racism and xenophobia, and with the rise of coronavirus, there is rapid growth of tension towards Asians. We don’t call out Europeans for bringing disease over to the Americas, and there’s no hate towards them. Is the spread of disease from Asia any different? No, but xenophobia is growing because people want to deem them “different.” 

Despite all the fears, I’m not keen on the fact the fear put on from the media is fueling the fire of hate. Nor am I happy the social media atmosphere is growing with anti-Asian rhetoric. This language tries to blame Asians for the coronavirus when there are clearly other factors that may be blamed for the outbreak. Globalization, the growth of the human population, unsafe food practices — there are numerous factors. But, Asians are not to turn the blame to, nor the Chinese. 

(I hope this is not an) unpopular opinion, but posting a selfie with an antiviral face mask while traveling is not a trend, it’s discriminatory. It switches on fear and allows the mind to wander, then to shift blame on an individual or individuals. People are acting as if the circumstances are under our control and are seemingly seeking to get likes as the coronavirus spreads. People are starting to blame the media, but I’m also blaming the people posting selfies with a caption on the lines of, “OMG wash your hands! Don’t spread the coronavirus!” It’s creating a social pandemic of anti-Asian rhetoric and false information. 

Stop pointing fingers at others and go look in a mirror first. How would you feel if someone blamed you for spreading the coronavirus? That’s exactly my point, no individual wants to be blamed. Stop the blame game and actually help stop the spread of the virus. 

Last updated on March 11, 2020, 5:00 p.m.

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