If we’re at war with the virus, why does President Trump seem so eager to relax his trigger finger? So he can point his finger at something else–like the World Health Organization? China? Or Asian Americans?
Now that he’s finally realized Covid-19 is no hoax, he’s all about playing the “not me” game” and quick to blame others. At least for the time being.
It will change.
It’s typical of Trump’s leadership during this crisis. The U.S had intel in November? Ignored. Memos from a staffer in January warning of a pandemic? Same. Maybe Trump would have seen it if it were on Fox State Television?
Another bit of information dropped Wednesday night to expose how Trump is shooting in the dark. Geneticists from Mount Sinai and NYU Grossman School of Medicine found in two separate studies that the New York coronavirus cases came from Europe, not Asia, according to a report in the New York Times. Fake news? Not when it involves scientific analysis of two different sets of genomes from the coronavirus in the New York area and concludes most of the cases did not come from China.
Another oops for Trump. Surely, when he said “Chinese Virus” in mid-March, that was more oops than lie, right?
Trump greenlighted violence against Asian Americans when he frequently used the term “Chinese Virus.” He stopped using the phrase as a drumbeat on March 23.
The latest numbers now indicate the attacks against Asian Americans from March 19 to April 8, at around the 1,500 mark, according to the Stop-AAPI-Hate website of the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and the Asian American Studies Dept. of San Francisco State University.
The findings actually unite all Asian Americans. More than 60 percent of the victims are non-Chinese.
The Stop-AAPI-Hate website takes in reports from around the country, and the trend is not good.
The rate of the attacks is not growing as wildly, but the hate behind the attacks has exploded, researcher Russell Jeung told me on Wednesday.
Anna Ng, a 51-year-old Asian woman, was accosted on March 28 by four teenage girls in the Bronx, who were yelling about how Ng “caused the coronavirus,” according to news reports. One of the teenagers bashed Ng on the head with an umbrella. Another teenager chided the Asian woman for not wearing a mask. Ng received four stitches for her head injury and was released from the hospital after her brutal attack.
It is our stereotype. A signifier of sorts.
I had hoped that if people realized Asians wearing masks were trying to avoid spreading their germs to others–that it was a matter of respect–then we’d all wear masks and be one happy Covid-19 fighting force.
Instead, people have interpreted the Asian penchant for mask wearing as an invitation to hate on Asians.
So far, Trump has vigorously washed his hands free of the issue and kept social distance.
What he needs to do is repeat the semi-clarifying pro-Asian American statement he made on March 23, the day he stopped using the “Chinese Virus” phrase.
So long as Asian Americans are being attacked and harassed, Trump needs to acknowledge that his casual language has had real negative consequences–not just on Chinese Americans, but our entire Asian American community.
DEATH MARCH ANNIVERSARY
This Holy Week was also supposed to be our “Pearl Harbor” moment, with rising death tolls from the virus. As I write, there are nearly 15,000 dead in the U.S.
Coincidentally, Thursday, April 9 is the Day of Valor commemorating another historical milestone, the 78th year after the Bataan Death March.
It used to be more people knew about Bataan from the John Wayne movie. Now, fewer people know of both Wayne and the significance of Bataan in World War II.
As an example that death counts matter, did you know 10,000 Filipinos died, compared to 650 Americans, during the march?
Maybe that’s why it is often left out of American high school history books. What’s a few thousand Filipinos?
In California, a new initiative has succeeded in getting Bataan back in the 11th grade curriculum.
So while General MacArthur returned, maybe we will see Bataan return to the history books.
Many of the Filipino vets were members of USAFFE, the United States Army Forces in the Far East. They were Filipinos in the Philippines answering President Roosevelt’s call to serve. They made up most of the Bataan veterans. They also made up the bulk of the Filipino WWII vets who fought for benefits denied by the Rescission Act.
The Filipino vets from the Philippines were different from those Filipinos already in the U.S., who arrived as “American nationals.” Bataan affected them differently. It inspired them to prove their loyalty to America and join the war effort.
On my podcast recorded in 2017, I spoke to Daniel Phil Gonzales, Asian American Studies professor at San Francisco State University, to help put Bataan into context (go to around 9:25 in the podcast).
We may yet see the heartbreak of an overwhelming virus death count. But Sunday is still a holy day, and a reminder of hope. My family can still do Easter dinner (our vegan ham) on Zoom.