How we allowed Covid-19 to divide us – not social distancing

It’s unlikely that I would be visiting the Western countries anytime soon, even after Covid-19 has been fully eradicated.

In fact, way before Covid-19 threw this world into disarray and chaos, I was already holding back on plans to visit the US. That’s after Donald Trump became president and how his protectionism plans – US-China trade and tech wars – indirectly led to an anti-Chinese sentiment within the country.

Even though there wasn’t a real threat to the Chinese population then, I thought there are many places I can explore before revisiting one where a segment of the population probably doesn’t appreciate our presence.

Fast forward to today, Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the xenophobic racist behaviour and given it much fuel to spread like wildfire in the US, as well as in other western parts of the world.

Covid-19 led to Anti-Chinese Sentiments in the West

For instance, one Singaporean in UK was beaten up brutally by teenagers, while a former Singaporean celebrity was told to stay away from a French elderly even though she was standing in her own backyard in France.

Both explained that they were not from China, but it didn’t matter as long as they are Chinese.

“You’re all the same!” said the aggressor. 

Covid-19 Anti-Chinese UK
Source: bbc.com

Even Koreans, Japanese, Thai or anyone who bear oriental features have not escaped such discrimination.

How about the Chinese-Americans who were born and bred in the US? Have they been spared? Apparently not.

Based on published reports, many are living their lives in fear as they have been spat at, coughed at, shamed or insulted in public. Recently, an Asian family, including a two-year old were stabbed in Texas. Yup. The toddler wasn’t spared.

Did Donald Trump’s earlier insistence in calling Covid-19 a “Chinese virus” exacerbate the anti-Chinese sentiment? Probably.

Covid-19 Anti-Chinese US
Source: thedailybeast.com

Hey, we are victims too! 

It’s sad to read about such hatred between human kinds. And especially so amidst this critical period when we should be working together to defeat the bug, regardless of skin colour or political inclination. 

Just like the Americans or Europeans, many of us are victims who are fighting a tough battle against the Covid-19 virus. For instance, the coronavirus in Singapore was first imported from China, which we were able to contain for more than a month. However, a second and much bigger series of waves came through in March 2020, and they were mainly imported from Europe and the US.

Covid-19 Singapore Chart
Number of covid-19 infections in Singapore by day (source: moh.gov.sg)

This massive wave, relative to the first, has caused huge disruptions in Singapore. Malls have restricted human traffic and all non-essential services will close next week. Most workplaces and even schools will be closed. People have lost either their job, their income, or both.

> MUST-READ: How Coronavirus affected life in Singapore

Right at this moment (3 April 2020), Singapore is at a critical phase of the coronavirus battle where unlinked cases have gone up at an increasing rate over the past two weeks. 

With the growing pain and disruption to normal life, should we then start discriminating against Chinese (from China) first and then the Caucasians? Well, if we lower our ethical standard and moral values, and choose to be illogical and intolerant, you would see us spitting and coughing at the local expat communities.

But I’m glad I haven’t noticed such anti-racial behaviours in Singapore. Because blame is of no use to solve any problem.

Since young, Singaporeans have been inculcated to be tolerant of diversity in race, language and religion. Here’s part of our national pledge that we recite daily since we were a kid: 

“…regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.” ~ Part of Singapore’s National Pledge.

singapore multiracial
Source

Even if we may feel uncomfortable due to our own insecurity or biases, we should have the grace and manners to hold back rude and uncivilized behaviours. If we have to avoid some groups of people due to our inner fear, we should do that as subtly as possible.

We can walk away discreetly instead of telling people to get out of the way. It is not anyone or any country’s wish for a pandemic to happen.

Not China. Not the US. And not Europe for sure.

Not All are Racists, but I’ll visit US when Donald Trump is gone

I’m sure many in the western world are gracious and acceptance of diversity. For instance, I do have readers and followers who are Caucasians and whom I appreciate their support. I know they and many others in their countries are not racist. 

However, based on many reports that I’ve read such as this one, it seems like the anti-racial sentiment is not insignificant in Europe and US, at least for now. Hence, I will only resume my travel plans to the western world when the bug is gone and when discrimination is no longer actively reported. As for the US, I would revisit the country when Donald Trump is no longer the president. :)

I normally stay away from talking about race and politics because these are sensitive topics and I don’t like controversial issues on my blog. But I think it’s dangerous for the world to continue to have someone incompetent lead the most powerful nation in the world. One that’s supposed to guide and unite everyone, not make everyone fight within the nation or against others. 

Example of inter-state fighting: “A shortage of life-saving medical gear has pitted states against each other and the federal government as they scramble to try to purchase the medical equipment needed to fight COVID-19.

Governors have been pleading with the Trump administration to take charge and make sure states can access enough equipment, but President Trump has been reluctant to do so, urging states to order their own personal protective equipment.

Experts and governors said the lack of a central coordinating authority has turned the medical supply market into a free-for-all.” ~ Thehill.com

If you have the time, read through some of the earlier statements made by Donald Trump (here, here and here). I’ve extracted a few for your quick reading: 

  • Jan 2020: “…we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s—going to be just fine.”
  • Feb 2020: “The flu, in our country, kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year…And, so far, if you look at what we have with the 15 people and their recovery, one is — one is pretty sick but hopefully will recover, but the others are in great shape.”
  • Feb 2020: “This is a flu. This is like a flu”; “Now, you treat this like a flu”; “It’s a little like the regular flu that we have flu shots for. And we’ll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner.”
  • Feb 2020: “the Democrats are policitizing the coronavirus.”

Hope to Visit the Western World in 2021

While the current news and opinion pieces are pessimistic, gloomy and depressing, I am hopeful that we will win this battle against the invisible enemy.

It may take a few more months, a year or longer. But we will adapt and we will get through. Hopefully by then, the world would be one with less hatred and more tolerance. 

I hope that by year 2021, I would be able to visit the western countries. 

(This post was first published on 3 April 2020)

 

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