Taking Offense

I’ve received a couple of complaints about my reference to the latest virus as the Chinese Virus.  They said it is offensive to Asians, even though it originated in Wuhan, China (the evidence points to a laboratory there funded in part by American taxpayers).

On a personal note, I lived in a dormitory at National Taiwan University when I was blessed to attend college there over a summer. I still keep in touch with friends there. My character was molded during that time to a great degree. More than once my Asian friends have told me that I have an “Asian” approach to what life throws at me. What that means, you will have to ask them! I hope it means, above all, respect for the other person and politeness always, even in disagreement.

However, I must disagree that referring to the virus in its origination is political or, in fact, is antithetical to how virtually all diseases have been characterized.

Now, I don’t claim to speak for all Caucasians, so I doubt if my critics speak for all Asians. I’m sure there are Asians who do not take offense at the term “Chinese Virus” — just as I have never heard of:

Someone from Germany taking offense at German measles;

Someone from Spain taking offense at Spanish flu;

Someone from the Middle East taking offense at MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome);

Someone from Japan taking offense at Japanese Encephalitis;

Someone from Hong Kong taking offense at the Hong Kong Flu;

Someone from Russia or specifically from Omsk, Russia, taking offense at Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever;

Someone from Guinea taking offense at Guinea Worm;

Someone from Zaire taking offense at Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, named after the river there;

Someone from Marburg, Germany taking offense at Marburg Virus Disease;

Someone from Lassa, Nigeria taking offense at Lassa Fever;

Someone from Lyme, Connecticut taking offense at Lyme Disease;

Someone from the San Joaquin Valley, California taking offense at San Joaquin Fever;

Someone from LaCrosse, Wisconsin taking offense at LaCrosse Encephalitis;

Someone from St. Louis, Missouri taking offense at St. Louis Encephalitis;

Or a member of the American Legion taking offense at Legionnaire’s Disease.

One reader, a Mr. Li, suggested I call it “the Chinese Communist Party Virus,” which is a good idea!

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