The talking heads in the media are expressing outrage over the term “Wuhan virus,” claiming that the colloquialism is racist.
Following Rep. Paul Gosar and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s references to COVID-19, or the China-borne novel strain of the coronavirus, as the “Wuhan virus,” liberal pundits and journalists like MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and David Gura took to Twitter to scold people for using the term.
“Just astoundingly gross to call it the Wuhan virus,” wrote Hayes, who quoted Rep. Gosar’s announcement that he was self-quarantining after being exposed to the virus during his attendance at CPAC. An attendee has been confirmed to have been carrying the illness.
In a separate post, David Gura said it was simply “racist” to call the disease the Wuhan virus.
Like many other diseases, the Wuhan virus colloquialism was given its name based on its place of origin. Other diseases include Zika virus, Ebola virus, German Measles, Marburg virus, Norovirus, West Nile virus, and so on.
The World Health Organization’s recent guidelines mandated that the names of diseases no longer be referred to by their place of origin, an animal, a group of people, or individual, to prevent stigmatization. This would of course be true if we were calling it the Chinese coronavirus—but calling it the Wuhan virus would fit perfectly into the conventions already set by other disease names, which remain unchanged despite the guidelines.
What’s also worth noting is the fact that Hayes and Gura are simply virtue signaling—having previously expressed no discomfort with calling other diseases by their place of origin. In a tweet dated to 2014, Gura wrote that the Ebola virus was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Media outlets in Asia continue to refer to the disease by its colloquial term, the Wuhan virus. Are they racist, too?
As for myself, I call it the Wuhan virus. I'm Chinese. I must be suffering from a serious case of internalized racism.
The "racist" narrative against calling the Wuhan virus by its colloquial name is also one put forth by the Chinese government to absolve them of any responsibility for letting the outbreak spread.
Just as well, outlets including Politico, the Washington Post, CNN, and the WHO itself (prior to its enforcement of naming guidelines) used the same term before the media dubbed it “racist” to do so after Republicans adopted the term.
As the Wuhan virus continues to claim record numbers of new infections worldwide, the media opts to scold people for calling the COVID-19 novel coronavirus by its colloquial term.
This is the absolute state of the media in 2020. You hate to see it.