The Gatepost Editorial: Xenophobia will not make you any safer

The recent fear concerning the coronavirus pandemic has raised awareness about washing your hands on a massive scale.

Unfortunately, a more insidious side effect has emerged from conversations about the coronavirus – the uncalled for racism and xenophobia toward Asian communities.

Because the coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan, China, multiple incidents of racism have been directed toward people of Asian descent throughout the United States.

A recent CNN article reported on a Los Angeles man who proclaimed Chinese people are “filthy” and falsely claimed “every disease has come from China.”

The Los Angeles Times also reported people have been avoiding Chinatown in Los Angeles, despite the San Francisco health officials saying there is no reason to avoid social gatherings or restaurants. 

According to NPR, an Asian-American woman in Washington D.C. was confronted by a man on public transit who told her to “Get out of here and go back to China.”

And yes, incidents of Asian prejudice due to the coronavirus have happened in Boston. 

Also reported in the NPR article was a Boston resident who recalled a man yelling “Cover your f****** mouth” at her after she sneezed. She was also called a “diseased Chinese person” by him.

That is simply not acceptable. It’s nothing short of blatant racism. They are all attacks on people for no reason other than the ethnic background.

This is not to forget the more unspoken instances of racism – giving side eye on the bus, frantically grabbing tissues, and crossing the street to avoid contact when in the presence of someone of Asian descent. 

While these instances may not appear to be as serious as other forms of racism, they can leave a harmful impact on those in the Asian community, making them feel ostracized solely because of their heritage.

This isn’t East Asia vs. the rest of the world. It is a rising, global pandemic being used as an opportunity to spread fear and fuel a pandemic of racism in this country.

However, this isn’t an issue exclusive to the United States. There have been violent incidents around the world.

Another article published by CNN reported that a 23-year old Chinese student in London was assaulted and told, “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country.”

The attack resulted in multiple face fractures for the student, who may require reconstructive surgery, according to the student’s doctors.

Some media outlets are also fueling the flame of racism rather than trying to extinguish them.

The New York Post recently published an article covering the first positive coronavirus diagnosis in Manhattan. The article featured a photograph of an Asian-American man, even though the person with the diagnosis was an American woman in her thirties who recently returned from a trip to Iran.

Yes, it is important that we are all washing our hands and coughing into our elbows – but it is even more important that we don’t forget how to be decent human beings.

We are all worried about what coronavirus has in store for the world, but mass panic will not help us combat this virus – and neither will appalling racist behavior.

Don’t let your actions be led by fear – we’re better than this?