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Lessons from COVID-19 V: Xenophobia & Racism

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As COVID-19 continues to ravage the human population of earth, xenophobia and racism are alive and well. For example, an Iranian leader is playing to his base by playing on fears of America and Israel. He is advancing, without evidence, the claim that the virus was created specifically to target Iranians. In addition to conspiracy theories that the Chinese engineered the virus (either to reduce their own population or for use against other nations) there has also been a worldwide rise in xenophobia and racism against Asians. One reason for the xenophobia and racism is that people are looking for a visible enemy upon which to take out their fear and anger. Many people feel helpless and afraid in this crisis and humans are naturally inclined to focus on other humans as threats—thus the rise in xenophobia and racism. People are also naturally inclined to try to explain the causes of things and just as humans were prone to blaming the gods for such woes as floods and earthquakes, they are also prone to seeking an intelligence behind dangers. Since humans suffer from in group bias and bad leaders feed xenophobia and racism, it is no surprise that people are seeking a scapegoat for this crisis: someone must be to blame. Someone must pay. The United States, with a long tradition of racism against Asians, has seen an increase in xenophobia and racism. While most incidents have been limited to verbal hostility, racism in the context of a disease raises serious concerns. The United States does have an established history of weaponizing racism in the context of diseases and we should be on guard against this tactic as leaders endeavor to appeal to their base and divert attention away from their failings. The most obvious example of an American leader’s effort to use xenophobia and racism to their advantage is Donald Trump’s insistence on using the term “Chinese virus” in place of “coronavirus” or “COVID-19.” Trump does have excellent, albeit evil, reasons to use. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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