By Harvey Dzodin，a senior research fellow at the Center for China and Globalization(CCG).
A famous general, William Tecumseh Sherman said that "war is hell" and while he was speaking of the American Civil War, his words aptly apply to the epic battle we are currently fighting against COVID-19.
Wars bring out the best in people and the worst, and our war against an unseen enemy is no different. There is an abundance of heroic, selfless fighters on the front lines, notably in Hubei province working to save lives, not infrequently at the cost of their own. But on the flip side, as in most wars, the environment has been poisoned with racial prejudice and hatred.
Online retailers continue to do a brisk business profiting from flogging coffee mugs and t-shirts emblazoned with "Coronavirus Made in China" despite angry protests to stop demonizing China and profiting from its misfortunes. Some designs add insult to injury by defacing what looks like a red Chinese flag but with the yellow stars replaced by the images of the virus itself.
With the advent of the virus, prejudice against China, specifically, and Asians, generally, have sprung up like weeds during a rainy spring. A French newspaper proclaims a "yellow alert" in response to COVID-19. An Austrian-Chinese woman coughs on a Vienna subway and all other passengers flee. Extreme-right ideologue Rush Limbaugh asked his 27 million followers: "Is our government doing anything to stop the ChiCom virus?" He later went on to claim that the virus was nothing more than the common cold and was being weaponized against U.S. President Donald Trump.
Perhaps the unkindest cut of all was the now infamous Wall Street Journal headline "China is the Real Sick Man of Asia." It was a double punch in the gut, not only alluding to China's Century of Humiliation at the hands of Western powers but also referencing its author's view of the crippling impact of the COVID-19 on China and its economy. The Journal's editors knew or should have known both the negatively charged origin of the headline about the demise of the once-powerful Ottoman Empire but also seen its two daggers targeted at China's heart.