Candidates Refuse To Call Wuhan Coronavirus By Its Name In Democratic Debate

Candidates Refuse To Call Wuhan Coronavirus By Its Name In Democratic Debate

The novel Wuhan coronavirus sweeping the globe took center stage Sunday night in the final Democratic debate between former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The candidates spent the first half of the prime-time event trading barbs on the best way to combat the virus and took aim at the current administration’s response. While each talked a big game on China where the virus first spread, neither referred to the virus with its name, the Wuhan virus. They accused Trump of being soft on China despite implementing a travel ban on the East Asian giant early in the outbreak, which Biden called xenophobic.

“What consequences should China face for its role in this global crisis?” asked CNN’s Dana Bash during the no-audience debate in Washington D.C.

The consequence, Sanders said, is that “we have got to learn that you cannot lie to the American people,” whatever that means. The Vermont senator went on to criticize Trump and said this is not the time for punishment.

“What bothers me very much is you have a president of the United States today, Mr. Trump, who is praising China, for the good work that they are doing, when in fact, as you indicated, they were lying to their own people,” Sanders said.

Biden said he would have demanded the Chinese government allow U.S. experts into the country to monitor the crisis and would have taken action if they refused.

Not at one point however, did either candidate or debate moderator call the virus by its name despite acknowledging malicious Chinese failures at containing the epidemic that began in the major city of Wuhan.

The issue is far more important than simple semantics. China has actively suppressed whistleblowers who raised alarm over the outbreak, arrested those critical of the government’s response, and has downplayed its severity paving the way for the current global pandemic.

Now, China is upset about foreign leaders using the term “Wuhan virus,” to nickname the new lung disease wreaking havoc on daily life and markets worldwide. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of perpetuating racism by having connected Wuhan with the virus by using the phrase.

“We condemn the despicable practice of U.S. politicians eagerly stigmatizing China and Wuhan by association with the novel [Wuhan] coronavirus, disrespecting science and WHO,” Shuang said last week.

Liberals and woke media elites in the United States have complied, buying into Chinese talking points to brand anyone who uses the term “Wuhan virus” as racist and xenophobic after having used the phrase dozens of times themselves.

“The president referred to the coronavirus as a ‘foreign virus,’” CNN’s Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta said after President Donald Trump’s Oval Office address Wednesday night. “It’s going to come across to a lot of Americans as smacking of xenophobia to use that kind of term in this speech.”

On the contrary, it is common practice to associate new diseases with populations or the site of their first major outbreak. Examples include the West Nile Virus, Guinea Worm, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, Ross River Fever, Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Valley Fever, Marburg Virus Disease, Norovirus, Zika Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, German Measles, Spanish Flu, Lassa Fever, and Legionnaire’s Disease, to name a few.

But yes, let’s not stigmatize the Chinese people with the term “Wuhan virus” to accurately reference the site of its first outbreak to appease its government.

Tristan Justice is a staff writer at The Federalist focusing on the 2020 presidential campaigns. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at [email protected]
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