It didn’t have to be this way.
The coronavirus pandemic didn’t have to become politicized—or racialized. But last March, President Donald Trump “decided to call coronavirus, which has no ethnicity or zip code or nationality, the China virus,” says Daily Beast columnist Wajahat Ali on the 100th episode of The New Abnormal.
“There was no reason to make coronavirus a racist thing,” co-host Molly Jong-Fast adds.
Now, not only are people of Chinese descent coming under attack across the U.S., but other Asians—because “bigots aren’t nuanced,” adds Ali, who wrote about the wave of anti-Asian hate for The Daily Beast before the Atlanta massage parlor murders.
“As a Muslim, as a son of Pakistani immigrants, we’ve been through this for the past 20 years,” he tells Jong-Fast. “And I realized that that story in America is the original story that gets a remake, and sometimes the villain just gets changed, right? So right now it’s Chinese or the Chinese, whoever looks Chinese. It’s been Muslims. It’s always African Americans, it’s Latinos. We’re all the invaders.”
“It’s a society-wide problem,” he says, “that requires a society-wide solution.”
After Ali tells Jong-Fast why we’ve got to nuke the filibuster, she welcomes freshman Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA) on the podcast to talk about the pandemic and how the vaccine campaign is going.
“The United States is probably in the best position, except maybe for Israel, throughout the world, in terms of vaccinating its population,” Auchincloss says.
Still, he cautions: “Not to be a Debbie Downer, but this problem of cold storage is very much still with us. If you look at countries near the Equator, we are nowhere near herd immunity. And indeed we’re looking at late 2022, early 2023 to hit that tipping point. And there the cold storage supply chain is very much an issue.”
The U.S. needs to develop a Marshall Plan for vaccines, he says, because “we’re in a race right now between vaccinations and variants, and it doesn’t help the United States if we win it domestically and lose it internationally.”
Lastly, Jong-Fast brings on Evan McMullin, former 2016 presidential candidate and former CIA officer, to talk about how the GOP is changing.
The last five years, he says, were not an “anomaly” for the party. “We were headed towards that for decades,” he says. “And I don’t see us getting past the last five years immediately either. I think there is that opportunity, but you know, it, it will take time.”
McMullin says he’s still a registered Republican but is not sure how long he’ll stay that way, given the “current direction” of the party.