Letter: ‘Blame game’ invites xenophobia

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Editor,

As a Republican campaigning for Indiana’s 5th District Congressional seat, Carl Brizzi is not dumb. It’s apparent from his March commentary, “Cover-up should not be ignored,” that he recognizes the rising popularity of “China-bashing” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Is it fair to blame China? Probably not. Is it politically expedient for him? Of course.

I am well aware of the Chinese government’s early reaction to the virus, having lived in Beijing until I was evacuated back to Carmel on Jan 29. To his merit, Brizzi is right to say, “the Chinese government suppressed critical information about the virus” during these early months.

It is a well-documented fact that Chinese officials attempted to cover-up the virus, going as far as censoring doctors and nurses who spoke out to warn the public. For a few fleeting moments, Brizzi and I can agree.

What I cannot agree with, however, is his application of these facts to justify discrimination against the Chinese. His commentary lacks any constructive agenda beyond blaming China for the world’s current state, from defending the term “China virus” to broadly claiming China will never become a responsible global actor. At one point, Brizzi turns to a social media debate (your first clue) regarding if now is still an appropriate time to focus on blame. “Yes, it is,” he doubles down.

As the U.S. tops 50,000 coronavirus-related deaths, it’s disappointing to see individuals focused more on assigning blame than working toward solutions. Brizzi’s China-bashing is not only counterproductive, but also a dangerous distraction from the accountability of our own administration in this crisis. Instead, we should be asking what steps China can take to assist in our recovery, both economically and humanitarianly.

I understand my recent time in China is a privilege that allows me to talk from personal experience, but regardless of experience or affiliation, it’s vital to address this virus from an appropriate perspective. Politically expedient “blame games,” like Brizzi’s, will only invite xenophobia to replace simple ignorance. As a community, we must expect more.

Ethan McAndrews, Carmel


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