In 2010, the incomparable Charles Krauthammer expertly explained the absurdity behind the extensive security measures introduced at airports across the country, stating that “everyone knows that the entire apparatus of the security line is a national homage to political correctness.” Titled “Don’t Touch My Junk,” his piece described “the point at which a docile public declares that it will tolerate only so much idiocy.”
“The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling — when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.”
As an anxious flyer, I do not share Krauthammer’s aversion to airport security. However, the point he made is (unsurprisingly) valid. It is clear that we, as a society, continually accept some level of personal inconvenience in exchange for avoiding targeted profiling which may offend the feelings of those labeled as “higher risk,” often because of unavoidable inherent characteristics. Some would argue, myself included, that this is an acceptable trade and are happy to endure mild inconveniences in the pursuit of empathy.
However, as Krauthammer suggested, there clearly exists a line which, if crossed, would render such a trade unacceptable. While we will quickly recover from the slightly heightened blood pressure caused by arguably unnecessarily-broad airport security checks, should our willingness to accept the demands of political correctness excuse deeper and more damaging effects?
Unfortunately, this is the very situation we find ourselves facing as we battle to turn the tide against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Unlike the many previous faux-catastrophes and manufactured calamities of recent times, the threat we face is unimaginably real. Our very society faces enormous dangers of an economic, political, and (most importantly) physical nature. The notion of political correctness should fade into laughable insignificance, and yet many are acting as if we are still merely defending the need to remove our shoes and belts at airport security checkpoints.
President Donald Trump is no stranger to controversy. During his time in office, he has faced both valid and invalid accusations of bigotry. In the eyes of the media and his political opponents, each “scandal” is worse than its predecessor. His refusal to cease dubbing the coronavirus a “Chinese virus” is no different, with cries of racism and xenophobia somehow ringing above the battle against a growing pandemic.
The debate here is not whether or not Trump’s description of the coronavirus as a “Chinese virus” is politically correct. After all, using our modern metric of political correctness, associating any human characteristic or group with anything negative is almost always condemned as politically incorrect. However, the political correctness of Trump’s rhetoric in this case is, quite frankly, irrelevant.
Our society is guilty of accepting the premise that what is politically correct is correct, and what is politically incorrect is incorrect. Political correctness is not synonymous with correctness, and it is a crime of denial and intentional ignorance that we have allowed it to become so.
Donald Trump’s use of the term “Chinese virus” or “Chinese coronavirus” is a matter of geographic fact (a fact that was echoed by the mainstream media until recently). German measles was first discovered in Germany; the Ebola virus was first discovered near the Ebola river, and Chinese coronavirus was discovered in China. While Whoopi Goldberg blames “Mother Nature,” the virus is stamped with the recognizable letters “Made in China.”
Not only was the Chinese coronavirus discovered in China, its global delivery was guaranteed by the Chinese government. The Chinese communist regime actively and repeatedly prevented the spread of information regarding the coronavirus, simultaneously permitting the real spread of the virus itself. China’s government is directly responsible for the global spread of their coronavirus, meaning that Trump’s implication of a possessive is entirely justified.
Two things can be true at once.
1.) Calling coronavirus a “Chinese virus” is not racist. It’s a statement of fact.
2.) Those who are using this fact as an excuse to discriminate against or attack Chinese or Asian individuals are ignorant, racist, and morally abhorrent.
Those who are ignoring the former point in order to argue the latter point are rejecting reality. If we are willing to intentionally blind ourselves in order to pursue and protect political correctness, then we are agreeing to value not only feelings over facts, but feelings over lives. How can we hope to beat the coronavirus if we don’t acknowledge its origin?
This is not a matter of begrudgingly removing our shoes at airport security in a choice between mild inconvenience and the protection of political correctness. This is a matter of survival.
Our priority must be to survive. Specifically, to survive the Chinese coronavirus.