Jeremy Lin objects to Donald Trump using term ‘Chinese Virus’

Jeremy Lin
Fred Lee/Getty Images

United States President Donald Trump keeps calling the virus sweeping the world – better known as the coronavirus or COVID-19 – the “Chinese virus.”

Former NBA player Jeremy Lin:

I don’t think calling it the “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus” is inherently racist. Many of the same people criticizing Trump previously used those terms.

The virus did originate in China. The Chinese government did respond with a reprehensible focus on public relations rather than public health.

But Trump’s playbook is transparent: He demonizes “foreigners.” He stokes racist resentment. He assigns blame elsewhere.

This fits a pattern.

Trump is going out of his way to call the virus by a less-familiar term. He’s a politician doing branding. This is particularly reprehensible because it sparks fear and bitterness toward Asians.

A common defense of Trump: A previous pandemic was called the Spanish flu. But that is believed to have started in Kansas. It got its name because Spain – neutral in World War I and therefore not facing wartime press censorship – had the most comprehensive reporting on the virus. Besides, explaining how something was done in 1918 might not be the best defense against charges of racism.

Another common defense: The Chinese government, due to its misconduct, should be linked to the virus. But if we’re naming the virus based on government failure, other monikers could work.