Wash Your Hands of Hate Amid Pandemic

As we meticulously wash our hands to prevent contracting the novel coronavirus, let’s also make sure to cleanse away hatred, blame, stereotyping, harassment and discrimination.

Unfortunately, turbulent times of national crisis bring out the worst in some people. That’s why citizens of goodwill should counteract racial bias, ethnic bigotry and hate speech with acts of kindness, compassion, and empathy. Let’s remember that all Americans are in this crisis together.

It’s troubling that some bigoted bullies have openly threatened Asian Americans by persistently branding the coronavirus as the “Chinese Virus” or “Wuhan Virus” and “Kung Flu” – and then acting out with violence.

Such blatantly racist rhetoric is repugnant, whether unintentional or by design. Nevertheless, bad actors among us have launched targeted tirades at innocent Asians, according to numerous news reports nationwide (see below). This has resulted is Asian Americans being stigmatized, verbally harassed and physically assaulted.

This is not the American way.

Such heinous actions are reprehensible, unseemly, unpatriotic and un-American, whether during times of tragedy or any other time. The demonization of groups related to the coronavirus cannot be tolerated.

  • We must all show more kindness to our fellow Americans.
  • We must all be more mindful that everyone is experiencing some level of uncertainty, anxiety, disruption, despair, and even death.

Fear mongering and blame-shifting are always unacceptable — regardless of race, color, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or other discriminatory factors. Let’s remember that callous attacks and targeting specific groups are acts of cowardice, which speak more about the perpetrators than the victims.

American morals and values should be consistent with truth, facts and reality, rather than paranoia and xenophobia.

Disease Naming

Sinister sentiments about Asians and the coronavirus were previously attributed to African immigrants during the time of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2014–2016. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) made it clear that such retrograde, primitive and tribal language serves no purpose other than to cast blame and fuel hate.

In 2015, the WHO stated the following in guidance on “best practices for naming new infectious diseases”:

  • “This may seem like a trivial issue to some, but disease names really do matter to the people who are directly affected.”
  • “We’ve seen certain disease names provoke a backlash against members of particular religious or ethnic communities and create unjustified barriers to travel, commerce and trade.”
  • “This can have serious consequences for peoples’ lives and livelihoods.”

It’s another stark reminder of how Muslim Americans have too often been demonized as evil, callous, primitive and undesirable in the aftermath of 9/11. Yet any American with a modicum of common sense is more likely to acknowledge that an overwhelming majority of Asian and Muslim citizens — like individuals of all cultures and religions — are decent, peaceful and law-abiding people.

Final Thoughts

Stereotyping and discrimination against any group is sad and sanctimonious, particularly during these challenging times. Demonizing any group only fuels hate without solving real problems — in this instance, related to our collective health and safety. To the contrary, blame-shifting only creates new problems by heightening tensions and remorse.

That’s why it’s imperative for all decent people to unequivocally denounce narrow-minded and dangerous racial or ethnic viewpoints aimed at Asian Americans or any American. We must make every earnest effort to eradicate stereotypes, dispel discrimination, harassment and all forms of hate which are voiced implicitly or explicitly against any group.

Let’s make it a priority to be extra vigilant in recognizing and calling out those misguided souls who engage in retrograde stereotyping, harassment and discrimination.

Let’s remember that while people may discriminate, the coronavirus does not. We are all susceptible to contracting the deadly disease regardless of who we are, where we live, where we come from, what we do, or how much money we make.

Thus let’s be more mindful that we are all facing the same invisible enemy.

And let’s remember, again, that we are all in this together.

Note: Similar versions of this article were also published on LinkedIn and Medium

Author’s Recommended Reading:


David B. Grinberg
David B. Grinberg
David is a strategic communications consultant, ghostwriter, and literary PR agent on issues of workforce diversity, equal employment opportunity, race and gender equity, and other social justice causes. He is a former career spokesman for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), where he managed media relations for agency headquarters and 50 field offices nationwide for over a decade. Prior to his public service at the EEOC, David was a young political appointee for President Bill Clinton in the White House: Office of Presidential Personnel, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A native New Yorker and University of Maryland graduate, David began his career in journalism. You can find David online via LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, Good Men Project, Thrive Global, BIZCATALYST 360°, and American Diversity Report.

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  1. Navigating uncertainty and fear is tough to do.

    It requires forgiveness and self care simply to keep going forward in hard times.

    I suspect what happens is grabbing certainty and control by attacking.

    As in hurting others to push away whatever that person is unwilling to cope with, within themself.

    Bullies who have hurt me did not seem to be able to cope with their own life… and instead targeted me.

    Not sure how society can approach this.

    Respectful words from bystanders in the momentcan be a start.

    Thanks for your reflection David. This is important.


  2. David, I am so glad you gave voice to this issue. Many “citizens of goodwill” are concerned about the racial naming happening at all levels of society. You expressed our concern in a fact-driven way. I am grateful for your ability to put it into words.

    • Thank you, Kate, for your kind words and positive comments. I’m pleased you and others liked this article and found the message of importance.

  3. David, as always, you tackle a complicated topic with such simplicity. In times like these when people are scared and feeling vulnerable, the number of hate crimes finds a way to climb.

    “Let’s remember that while people may discriminate, the coronavirus does not. We are all susceptible to contracting the deadly disease regardless of who we are, where we live, where we come from, what we do, or how much money we make.”

    We are, indeed, in this together. Thank you for sharing this important message!

    • Melissa: Your kind words and valuable insights are always most appreciated. Thanks for your continued meaningful engagement, support and encouragement. We will get through this.

    • Melissa: I appreciate your valuable feedback, as always. Thanks for all of your continued meaningful engagement, encouragement and support. I’m grateful for all you do!

  4. David – Agree with you completely – unfortunately, there will always be those who take any opportunity to spread hate – what is important is how good people react. If you hear bigotry, call it out – be polite – be respectful – but call it out. Bigots are like weeds – they only thrive if you ignore them – pull they out and they wilt in no time. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Len: Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. I agree with your wise words. Let’s keep pulling out those weeds!

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