As if the COVID-19 coronavirus hasn’t been dividing the world enough with intense social distancing, travel bans and unprecedented government intervention, Bill Maher has decided to stoke the fire a bit with a controversial opinion.
The host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher took to Twitter to speak out against China’s wet markets – thought to be the origin of COVID-19 – and to defend associating the virus directly with the country.
In his post, he said:
There are people who would rather die from the virus than call it by the wrong name.
It’s not racist to point out that eating bats is batshit crazy. We should blame China. Not Chinese Americans. If the sun was exploding, Twitter would pile on the first guy who called it a dwarf star.
This has nothing to do with Asian-Americans. We don’t have the luxury of indulging a country whose habits cause problems. Viruses come from China like shortstops come from the Dominican Republic.
If the China military had purposely infected this country with a bioweapon, we’d be at war with them. This one hurt our economy a little more than the currency manipulation.
Calling the novel coronavirus a “Chinese virus” has been extremely controversial since President Trump openly labeled it as such during a news conference in March. The choice to associate the virus with the country has been deemed racist by an overwhelming majority, particularly those with left-leaning beliefs.
That said, Bill Maher is well-known for having divisive opinions. He avoids traditional political labels in favor of calling himself a “practical,” often having strong liberal beliefs alongside starkly-contrasting conservative stances. This really isn’t anything new for the political commentator, but as many have pointed out, associating the virus directly with China in such a manner has emboldened already outspoken racists.
Additionally, Asian Americans have been targeted with varying degrees of racism since the outbreak began, such as refusal of service, vandalism of their cars and homes, and purposeful acts of avoidance based on race. Hopefully, the term doesn’t catch on long-term and lead to further heinous acts against innocent people simply trying to go about their lives in America.
COVID-19 has now infected nearly 1.8 million people worldwide and is responsible for the deaths of over 108,000. Following a devastating month of March for Italy, the United States has now become the epicenter of the virus with over 525,000 cases and 21,000 deaths. The pandemic is crippling hospitals who are in desperate need of additional gear like face shields, masks, and gloves as they await the peak of the outbreak in the coming weeks, and for now, all we can do is stay indoors and hope for things to ease up a bit.