Tuesday, March 17, 2020


What’s in a name? To keyboard commanders of varying stripes stuck at home, a lot, apparently.

Twitter leftists have objected to any mention of COVID-19’s Chinese origins. Despite the fact that the Spanish Flu, Ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and sundry other ailments are sensibly named from whence they sprung, any mention of the coronavirus’ provenance is deemed by many to be out of bounds — outright racist, according to Rep. Ilhan Omar, among others.

Certain right-wing partisan Twitter users, meanwhile, have gleefully adopted the name “Wuhan Virus” or “Chinese Flu” in a bid to, as the kids say, “own the libs.” President Trump himself — after months of downplaying the virus — has finally gotten serious about it, and for that we are grateful. Naturally, he has also now taken to calling it the “Chinese Virus.”

In a way it’s comforting to see that, even in this time of strife, partisan Americans still enjoy a good social media dust-up. But it’s also, well, just a little pathetic. COVID-19 is deadly serious, and the lives of hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans are at risk from it. The performative battling over what exactly to call the virus feels a bit like a reach for a security blanket, a reminder of a simpler time when partisan fights were fun and less related to matters of life and death.

What’s in a name? Not much. Kill the virus first. Then we can argue about what to call it.

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