To Bill Maher, white privilege is the fine cocaine he snorts off the @ss of a high-class call girl. To the rest of the world, it's what he spews out his pursed-up, sneering lips in this final "New Rule" defending to the death the right to call COVID-19 the "Chinese" or "Wuhan" virus.
Maher spent the final five minutes of his show moaning about liberal PC police, slamming Rep. Ted Lieu — Ted Lieu! — for recognizing the outsized impact language plays in Trump's America, and whining about how other viruses are named after regions from whence they came without any problems.
Sorry, Americans. We're going to have to ask you to keep two ideas in your head at the same time: This has nothing to do with Asian Americans, and it has everything to do with China. We can't afford the luxury anymore of nonjudginess towards a country with habits that kill millions of people everywhere because this isn't the first time. SARS came from China and the bird flu and the Hong Kong flu, the Asian flu. Viruses come from China just like shortstops come from the Dominican Republic.
Oh, he does love him some Latinx stereotyping mixed in with his Asian-bashing, don't he? He's so clever.
Except in that first part, didn't Maher just list a bunch of viruses that didn't come from China? Zika and West Nile viruses came from Uganda, Ebola came from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Hantavirus originated in South Korea, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in America. So how did he go from that, to "viruses come from China just like shortstops come from the Dominican Republic?" (Also, Cal Ripken would like a word with you...)
Furthermore, let's talk about the specious comparison between these virus names Maher is trying to make. Can we pinpoint folks from the Zika forest running around in Manhattan? How many Ebolans are there in Texas? Is it easy to identify someone who was born near the Hantan River? Do white supremacists seek out people with this kind of specificity? Would they even be able to tell you that Zika was a Forest, Ebola was a river, let alone the nations through which they flowed and flowered? And how many racists are going to go after people who live in the Rocky Mountains? Do I have to even SAY the next sentence???
For the 3.8 million people in America who are Chinese, or of Chinese descent, it is a different story. Add to that people of myriad Asian-countries' descent who might be mistaken for Chinese, and the number is much larger. Throw out the term "Chinese virus," and even the least imaginative moron can think they've found a worthy scapegoat in a neighbor, classmate, or fellow grocery store shopper. The FBI agrees. But Maher? Nah. He knows better than the FBI.
How is it NOT telling the truth to NOT call it the "Chinese virus?" Is it a lie to call it COVID-19? CO = Corona, VI = Virus, D = Disease, -19 = 2019. Can't get much more truthy than that. Maher is just pissy that he is being asked to give a sh*t about the feelings of someone with less power than he — a cis white dude — has. For the love of mediocre white men, you would think he were being asked to amputate his own leg.
One thing on which we can agree — this IS an emergency — we are facing a pandemic while a narcissistic authoritarian preens for praise in the White House, firing every person who serves as a guard rail to his taking this train full throttle off the mountainside. Trump also happens to get off on nativism and thinks neo-nazis are super people. He gets giggly seeing the weak get beat up, and gives full permission to his MAGAt followers to roam the streets doing it in his name.
Personally, I don't think we need to add to it by giving racists "the wrong idea" in today's United States. Maher, on the other hand, thinks calling it COVID-19 instead of the "Chinese virus" is the same thing as putting a stop to telling the truth. Now, seriously. Which of us is taking the larger dose of truth and reality into account?
Oh, and check out the background he had in place for his segment. Is that a statue of Chairman Mao I spot? How subliminal of him.