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Commentary: U.S. politicians' virus stigmatization must stop

(Xinhua)    08:27, June 28, 2020

A traffic policeman is seen on Times Square in New York City, the United States, May 29, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

The recent reference to coronavirus as "kung flu" by some U.S. politicians reflects outright bigotry and is totally outrageous to any decent mind, as the slur bears clear racist implications and causes serious offence to Asian people.

NEW YORK, June 27 (Xinhua) -- When the World Health Organization announced the official name for the novel coronavirus in February, the UN agency made it clear that the designation did not stigmatize any geographical location, animal, individual or group of people.

Since then, the name of COVID-19, which refers to a deadly infectious disease sweeping across the globe, has been widely used and accepted by the international community.

The recent reference to coronavirus as "kung flu" by some U.S. politicians, on the other hand, reflects outright bigotry and is totally outrageous to any decent mind, as the slur bears clear racist implications and causes serious offence to Asian people.

About three months ago when COVID-19 started its wild spread across the United States after weeks-long inertia from the federal government, some senior U.S. officials referred to the coronavirus as the "China virus" or "Wuhan virus" in an effort to shift the blame on their poor handling of the outbreak.

They were forced to withdraw their remarks in the face of immediate condemnation from both domestic and international audiences.

The ulterior intention underlying the racist slur this time is buck-passing, again, as was three months ago, in the face of a new surge of COVID-19 cases throughout the country since early June.

Friday saw more than 40,000 new cases reported in a single day, and was the third consecutive day with a record total, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University.

But racist language is a hard sell.

As said by Congresswoman Judy Chu, head of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the deliberate use of the racial slur "kung flu" for political gain is "sickening and completely unacceptable," because the stigmatization builds xenophobic anger toward Asian Americans when the country is already witnessing an alarming uptick in anti-Asian bigotry, even putting the lives of Asian Americans at risk.

This derogatory racial term also came about amid the sweeping social disturbance ignited by the brutal murder of an African American by Minneapolis police, for which the combative stance of the White House has angered African American and other ethnic groups.

Instead of reflecting on how to alleviate the deep-seated racial discrimination against minorities in the country, some U.S. politicians, unfortunately, have chosen to stoke the turmoil with further racist and divisive language, which will unavoidably deepen social separation. This is not what a responsible government should do.

From the very beginning of the pandemic, politicians in Washington have been walking down the wrong path. They have covered up science with politics and have passed the buck to others after their misjudgment and disastrous handling of the country's COVID-19 outbreak, the result of which is the loss of more than 125,000 lives so far.

COVID-19 kills regardless of color or ethnicity. When health experts' worst predictions happen one after another, it's time for U.S. politicians to wake up to their wrongdoings and take new steps -- stopping stigmatizing others would be a good start. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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