Although to be fair, I should have seen this line coming. His old show was called “Politically Incorrect,” after all.
As he does periodically, the generally despicable HBO clown nose on-clown nose off pseudopundit, whom left-wing pundits and politicians grovel to in order to be cheered by his studio audience of ex-Occupy Wall Street campers, Bernie bros and you know, morons, bucked a progressive talking-point by saying, essentially, that it was stupid.
This one was particularly low-hanging fruit for Maher, as it should be for anyone: he said, admittedly in the most vulgar and tasteless way imaginable, that the Virus That Came From China should be called a Chinese virus (or variations thereof, like the Wuhan virus name I use on Ethics Alarms and explained why here) and that saying it is racist to do so is cretinous. In Bill’s words,
“Scientists, who are generally pretty liberal, have been naming diseases after the places they came from for a very long time. Zika is from the Zika Forest, Ebola from the Ebola River, hantavirus the Hantan River.There’s the West Nile virus and Guinea worm and Rocky Mountain spotted fever and, of course, the Spanish flu. MERS stands for Middle East respiratory syndrome. It’s plastered all over airports, and no one blogs about it. So why should China get a pass?”
Then Maher did a nice takedown of a characteristic tweet by Rep. Ted Lieu, who embarrasses the U.S. Congress, his state (California), his party (Democrats) and his district roughly every time he says anything. He had tweeted on this issue,
Calling #COVIDー19 the Wuhan Virus is an example of the myopia that allowed it to spread in the US. The virus is not constrained by country or race. Be just as stupid to call it the Milan Virus.
One would think that one of the few things Lieu could speak authoritatively about is being stupid, but no, not even that. Maher correctly reacted,
No, that would be way stupider because it didn’t come from Milan! And if it did, I guarantee we’d be calling it the Milan virus. Jesus fucking Christ! Can’t we even have a pandemic without getting offended? When they name Lyme Disease after a town in Connecticut the locals didn’t get all ticked off …It scares me that there are people out there who would rather die of the virus than call it by the wrong name.
It scares me that someone like Ted Lieu is in Congress, or, for that matter, walking the streets without a harness and a keeper. Maher continued on his rant,
This isn’t about vilifying a culture. This is about facts. It’s about life and death. We’re barely four months into this pandemic, and the wet markets in China — the ones where exotic animals are sold and consumed — are already starting to reopen.
Sorry, Americans. We’re going to have to ask you to keep two ideas in your head at the same time: This has nothing to do with Asian Americans, and it has everything to do with China .We can’t afford the luxury anymore of nonjudginess towards a country with habits that kill millions of people everywhere because this isn’t the first time. SARS came from China and the bird flu and the Hong Kong flu, the Asian flu. Viruses come from China just like shortstops come from the Dominican Republic. If they were selling nuclear suitcases at these wet markets, would we be so nonjudgmental?”
Naturally, Maher is now being called a racist. The argument that it is racist to call something from China Chinese is itself a miracle, like one of those bacteria that can survive without oxygen or water. There is nothing supporting this argument, yet people still make it, because crying “Racism!” is supposed to stop free expression like holy water stops vampires. Confront someone with a functioning brain with the fact that, as Maher explains, the claim makes no sense whatsoever, you will be told that the real problem is that it gives actual racists an excuse to beat up Asians. With this they are advocating a thug’s veto, or a moron’s veto, or something like that, that just happens to bolster Chinese Communist propaganda.
Even a knee-jerk anti-American like Maher is too smart for be part of that.