During a recent press conference held at the White House, a reporter from PBS News—Yamiche Alcindor—asked the president if he believed it was appropriate for one of his aides to use the term “Kung Flu” in reference to the coronavirus.
Alcindor asked, “There is at least one White House official who used the term ‘Kung Flu’ referring to the fact that this virus started in China. Is that acceptable? Is it wrong? Are you worried that having this virus being talked about as a ‘Chinese virus’ might—”
“I wonder who said that?” President Trump interrupted and challenged—rightfully so.
Alcindor could not answer his question. She did not know who used this term. Instead, she pressed her point. “My question is, do you think that’s wrong? And do you think using the term ‘Chinese virus’, that puts Asian Americans at risk, that people might target them?” You can watch the full clip here.
The president asked Alcindor to say the term again. When she instead attempted to restate her question, this time emphasizing the implied racist implications of the term, he repeated “Kung flu” for her. “Kung flu” was then tossed a few times between them at the president’s prodding, which helped highlight Trump’s real point.
“Kung flu” is funny. Period.
You might be asking, what do you meme? Allow me to elaborate. Americans have an affection for memes. We will turn just about any situation or saying we can think of into a funny image and clever caption designed for the internet. This is the kind of “going viral” that everyone hopes for, and now that the entire world has begun to go a very different kind of viral, there is an emerging need for levity. Who doesn’t want to find opportunities for laughter during these surreal and very scary times? When memes about toilet paper hoarders and accidentally stress-eating a weeks’ worth of food supplies circulates around Facebook, are you telling me you don’t chuckle and share what made you smile with all of your friends? Memes like these offer a form of solidarity and provide a place to find relief in an otherwise horrific pandemic.
But Alcindor wasn’t interested in humor. She also wasn’t interested in presenting facts. We know this because she had no clue who among Trump’s staff had used the term “Kung Flu”. Make no mistake, no one among his staff had. However, with regard to Alcindor’s question, that isn’t the point. The point is that our president is an egomaniacal racist hellbent on infecting the minds and attitudes of the American people to ensure unflinching racism as a means to incite violence and place the safety of minority groups in everlasting peril. She is leading the morality brigade and we should thank her for asking our president the hard-hitting questions, right?
While Alcindor is among a majority of reporters who have chosen to argue that terms like “Chinese coronavirus” and “Wuhan virus” are inherently racist, it was precisely this majority who themselves first used the very terms she is now objecting to—terms that most major media outlets with vested interests in demonizing the president are uniformly objecting to.
In January of this year, when cases of the virus’ spread in China first hit the news, broadcasters at CNN, NBC, ABC, and others referred to the virus as the “Chinese” virus and “Wuhan” virus, keeping in step with other historical pandemics wherein diseases were named after the location from which they originated. The West Nile virus originated from the West Nile river, likewise the Ebola virus from the Ebola river in Africa. MERS is an acronym that stands for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome. It’s impossible not to know where the Spanish Flu came from thanks to its name, and that’s important because accuracy matters. News reports as recent as late-February were using the same names for the virus. For an excellent montage of media hypocrisy, I highly recommend this clip from the Michael Knowles Show on The Daily Wire.
What media outlets and newspapers like Alcindor’s are really doing when they attack the president for using terms that they decided are racist goes beyond hypocrisy. Their goal is to redirect our attention away from the president’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus—and his daily accomplishments—in favor of printing headlines meant to characterize him as racist and therefore bad for our country. It’s ludicrous. The same reporters who criticized Trump as “fearmongering” for his January ban of all flights from China—reporters who took their talking points from democratic frontrunner Joe Bidden, don’t get me started on him—are now criticizing Trump for not acting faster and not doing more to slow the spread sooner. So, which is it?
You know your opponent isn’t fighting fair if they keep moving the goalposts time and again, which is precisely what the majority of major news outlets continue to do in their commentaries on and responses to President Trump’s wartime efforts to combat this pandemic. Why do the goalposts keep moving? Because the goal isn’t to save at-risk Americans from reaching a fatal outcome if they contract the coronavirus. It’s to convince all Americans to reach the conclusion that our president shouldn’t be in office.
Their underlying goal is deranged. I fear to imagine what the state of the nation would look like if any other presidential candidate from 2016 was at the helm of fighting this pandemic on a national scale. I’m reminded of the H1N1 pandemic of 2009, in fact. If you don’t clearly recall it, that’s because Obama didn’t address it until over 1,000 Americans had died, and when he did, his “no-big-deal” attitude influenced the press to pass along the same laissez faire attitude to the American people. The spread of H1N1 was underreported and the fatality rates weren’t broadcasted with the kind of regularity and intensity that would stick in the average American mind.
While the infection rate of our current coronavirus pandemic is fundamentally different than 2009’s H1N1, it isn’t incomparable when it comes to the political, federal response. Trump has been doing an excellent job in my opinion. This isn’t to say that the country isn’t going to suffer severe hardships, but it is to say that our president has been consistently acting swiftly, decisively, and also intuitively. So, let’s stop moving the goalposts and let’s take time to find what humor we can on Facebook and share those topical memes. We’re going to be here for a while.