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Shaw: 'Chinese Virus' term is hurtful and dangerous

Jim Shaw

FARGO — Shame on President Trump for calling the current pandemic the “Chinese Virus.” The most commonly used correct terms are COVID-19 and the coronavirus. Not the Chinese Virus. World Health Organization leaders have criticized Trump for using that term. The WHO’s policy is to give viruses a generic name.

Yes, a pandemic from a century ago was called the Spanish flu. That would not be allowed today. As an aside, the Spanish flu originated in Kansas.

Trump’s term is racist and xenophobic. It has provoked attacks and harassment towards Asian Americans across the country. Trump’s calling the pandemic the Chinese virus has caused pain, fear and distress in this area.

“This is terrible,” said Jin Li of Fargo. “I can’t imagine any president or educated person saying this. By calling it a Chinese virus, what kind of impression does it give about Chinese Americans?”

Li was born and raised in China. He is a professor at North Dakota State University and has lived in Fargo for 13 years. He loves it here, and says the people are friendly. Now, he worries about being shunned or discriminated against. “This is dangerous,” Li said. “Chinese Americans in Fargo-Moorhead are definitely nervous. We’re very concerned because the president has singled us out.”

“It hurts,” said Jackie, who is afraid to use her last name. She too was born and raised in China and lives in Fargo. “This encourages hate. The president’s comments are offensive. He shouldn’t say that. We’re a nation of immigrants.”

Jackie is an office administrator, and the mother of two small children. She has lived in Fargo since 2007, and calls it a quiet and friendly city. Now, she worries about the safety of her children. “I worry my kids will get bullied,” she said. “I think the president is saying this to cover for his lack of preparation. I hope he will stop saying it. It’s dangerous.”

“I would call it racist,” said Ashely, who is also afraid to reveal her last name. Like the others, she was born and raised in China and now lives in Fargo. “He’s giving the impression that all Chinese people are bad. It encourages dislike and hatred of Chinese people.”

Ashely is a graduate student at NDSU. She has lived in Fargo since 2013, and enjoys it here. Now, she is frightened. “It makes me scared,” she said. “It’s not fair. We didn’t do anything wrong. I’m afraid to go to the stores. I take pepper spray and alarms when I go out. I’m afraid someone will attack me.”

Trump’s terminology is similar to when he shamefully said some immigrants come from “s***hole countries,” and four women of color in Congress should go back to where they came from. My guess is he says it so people will forget his slow, dishonest and lame early response to the virus, even after government officials warned him of the upcoming pandemic.

Now, in this crisis, we should be unified and all in this together. That definitely includes Li, Jackie, and Ashely.

As a public service, we’ve opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status.

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