Americans listening to Donald Trump know exactly who to blame for coronavirus: China (even though that’s not even definitively true). It shouldn’t be a surprise. He continually called it “Kung Flu” during his last campaign event in Tulsa (even though coronavirus isn’t a strain of flu. It seems there’s more than enough blatant racism to go around, though, because anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise as well.
This is especially true in India.
And it’s nothing new. The Washington Post noted that “the desire to blame calamity on those who are different” is seemingly in our blood. There is a Muslim minority in India, where the blame for spreading the dangerous coronavirus has been laid squarely at their feet. The African minority in China has been blamed for helping to spread the virus as well. (How ironic that must be in the eyes of Americans!) The Hazara is a minority in Pakistan. It too has been blamed.
Charlie Campbell has studied prejudice for a long time. He said, “It’s just a lot easier if you can whip up hatred against someone else. It’s the idea of the bad apple rather than the forgotten barrel.”
One Indian soldier with an Islamic background was targeted and physically assaulted after being blamed. His son, Akib Hussain, said, “You spend 26 years serving the country, and then you get treated like this just for being a Muslim.”
In the United States, the irony of this prejudice is even more impactful. It seems that one person will place blame on an outsider, while another will deny the very existence of the virus in the first place, only to then invoke the name of God to avoid wearing a mask to save others. Jesus would probably be wearing a mask — but then again, he’d probably avoid casting out entire groups of people for their ethnic backgrounds.
Coincidentally, most of those Americans responsible for these prejudices are firmly in the conservative Christian camp.