Recently at Pharyngula a commentator mentioned something related to a political problem I’ve been thinking about. The political problem is the attempts to call covid 19 by names related to China or Wuhan and probably other versions.
They pointed out how people from one country would name a disease after another country and specifically the “the French disease”, syphilis. After some searching I found this.
Introduction, second paragraph.
From the very beginning, syphilis has been a stigmatized, disgraceful disease; each country whose population was affected by the infection blamed the neighboring (and sometimes enemy) countries for the outbreak. So, the inhabitants of today’s Italy, Germany and United Kingdom named syphilis ‘the French disease’, the French named it ‘the Neapolitan disease’, the Russians assigned the name of ‘Polish disease’, the Polish called it ‘the German disease’, The Danish, the Portuguese and the inhabitants of Northern Africa named it ‘the Spanish/Castilian disease’ and the Turks coined the term ‘Christian disease’. Moreover, in Northern India, the Muslims blamed the Hindu for the outbreak of the affliction. However, the Hindu blamed the Muslims and in the end everyone blamed the Europeans [4–6].
Anyone who wants to name a disease after a country, region, ethnicity, race and similar are bigots. This is social dominance behavior for no good reason. Racism and other bigotries.
Another version could be naming pranks and irresponsible behavior after other races. When I was a kid a prank some kids did involving knocking on someone’s door and running away was called “n%$$#& knocking”. Knocking someone out by pushing on their neck was called a “Chinese knockout”.
It’s unacceptable. It’s a discriminatory irrational insult and for what? I honestly want to know and I’m going to look for the reason so I can do something with it. Racist, nationalist and similar solidarity is one answer. In addition to desire to make a percieved adversary feel insulted.
I seen people insist that it’s acceptable because that’s where it started. That changes nothing. That’s an excuse to keep doing something insulting. I’ll keep calling it racist, bigoted. Coronavirus for the kind of virus and covid 19 for the specific example.
Finally I’ve considered and rejected calling it something like “the Trump virus” (reflect their behavior back on them). I’ve got the same instincts but I want them attached to better things. I may use that as an example of something that is similarly useless and counterproductive dominance behavior in place of relevant personal characteristics to attach negative feelings to.