Mr. President, this is not a 'Chinese virus'

On Wednesday afternoon, President Trump defended referring to COVID-19 as a “Chinese virus” as “not racist” and “accurate.” The media quickly condemned his statements as putting Asian Americans at risk for racist retaliation.

As a Chinese American, I doubt Trump’s words will increase xenophobic incidents, as those happened and will continue to happen irrespective of the president’s statements. Nonetheless, referring to COVID-19 as “Chinese” conflates corruptness of the Chinese government with the lives of Chinese individuals, playing into President Xi Jinping’s hands.

The Chinese Communist Party has always misconstrued critiques of its authoritarian practices as anti-Chinese xenophobia. From its crackdowns on democratic movements in Hong Kong to its placement of Uighur minority within concentration camps, the Chinese government has used perceived or real anti-Chinese sentiment to deflect from legitimate criticism.

Half-rate puns like “kung-flu” only bolster the Chinese government’s deflective measures. Many have pointed to the Chinese government’s suppression of information regarding the virus, from the punishment of whistleblowers to expulsion of American journalists, as justification for a Chinese label on the coronavirus. The president himself noted a Chinese official’s conspiracy theory pinning the disease’s origin on the U.S. military.

But calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” is distinct from directly criticizing the Chinese government’s misinformation. Trump should criticize specific instances of communist malfeasance, rather than assigning a nationality to a disease.

ISAAC LIU

Lynchburg

A giant has left us

We were very saddened to learn about the passing of J.P. Vaughan last week. What a tremendous loss for the Lynchburg area. Nobody loved our city more than J.P. He was a tireless and devoted promoter and supporter of our city, its schools and especially its area high school sports. I cannot imagine an E.C. Glass sporting event without J.P. What he did for young people and for bringing folks together was just incredible.

Keeping J.P.’s bride, Kay, and the rest of his family in thoughts and prayers.

ALEX WINSTEAD

Lynchburg

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