I regret to inform you that Bill Maher is at it again.
On Friday night, after a softball interview with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and a few other chummy chats, the Real Time host aired his latest “New Rule” segment. And it was focused on how Americans should be able to call COVID-19 the “Chinese virus.”
“Scientists, who are generally pretty liberal, have been naming diseases after the places they came from for a very long time,” he said. “Zika is from the Zika Forest. Ebola is from the Ebola River. Hantavirus? The Hantan River. There’s the West Nile Virus, and Guinea Worm, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and of course the Spanish Flu.” (Yes, Maher does not even know that the Spanish Flu did not originate in Spain. Also, it occurred over a century ago and was not named such at a time when its people were being targeted in racist attacks, but more on that later.)
“So why should China get a pass?” Maher continued. “Congressman Ted Lieu tweeted, ‘The virus is not constrained by country or race. Be just as stupid to call it the Milan Virus.’ No, that would be way stupider because it did not come from Milan, and if it did, I guarantee it would be called the ‘Milan Virus.’ Jesus fuckin’ Christ, can’t we even have a pandemic without getting offended?” (Note: Milan is not a country.)
He added, “Seriously, it scares me that there are people out there who would rather die by the virus than call it by the wrong name. This isn’t about vilifying a culture; this is about facts. This is about life and death.” Who out there would “rather die by the virus than call it by the wrong name?” What the hell is he talking about?
Oh, he also invoked the “PC Police” for good measure, saying, “The PC Police say it’s racist to attack any cultural practice that’s different than our own. I say liberalism lost its way when it started thinking like that.”
There was more of course, like comparing the animals sold at China’s wet markets to nuclear bombs, and various other dog-whistles that would be more at home on Fox News.
Maher conveniently failed to mention the reason(s) why many politicians are advising against calling it the “Chinese virus,” naming it after an entire country: the numerous hate crimes that have been reported against Asian-Americans in the wake of COVID-19. Storefront windows of Asian-owned business have been smashed and vandalized. People have been regularly taunted with racist “go back to China” heckles. The FBI has warned of a surge in hate crimes against Asian-Americans. Racially-motivated attacks on Asian-Americans have risen to 100 a day in the midst of the pandemic.
To all that, Maher concluded: “The answer is: We should blame China. Not Chinese-Americans, but we can’t stop telling the truth because racists get the wrong idea. There are always going to be idiots out there who want to indulge their prejudices, but this is an emergency.”
Yes, Bill Maher, there will always be idiots out there who want to indulge their prejudices. And tonight, that idiot was you.
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