IT’S A CHINESE VIRUS!!!!! Or, Yes, Words Have Meaning(s)

Most by now are familiar with Donald Trump’s insistence that COVID-19 be referred to as the ‘Chinese‘ or ‘Wuhan virus.’

In one sense, pointing out gaps in Trump’s logic is, in effect, to gaslight one’s self. After all, he tweeted that COVID-19 was less harmful than the flu as late as March 9th, then swiftly moved to accept its growing impact on March 11th. By March 16th, he had switched from calling it coronavirus to the ‘Chinese virus.’ More recently, Trump declared that the economy must be back on track by Easter, despite warnings from experts that COVID-19 will likely be peaking in much of the US at that time. On March 29th, that date was pushed back from Easter until April 30th. I could go on …

If we view Trump as a strategic actor who is utterly shameless in defending his interests, then his ‘logic’ does indeed make sense. Consistency and accuracy regarding the science of COVID-19 (or any topic, for that matter) are tools to be used or discarded as it suits his advantage. Considered in this light, the term ‘Chinese virus’ can be seen as a rhetorical device that aims to divert attention from the Trump administration’s many failings throughout this affair by reducing culpability for the spread of COVID-19 to one main variable — China. Continue reading “IT’S A CHINESE VIRUS!!!!! Or, Yes, Words Have Meaning(s)”

“No Vote Was Changed”

Evidence from the Russia Investigation regarding the 2016 election

Have you caught the particular angle virtually all mainstream news media, let alone US politicians, are taking regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election?

Most recently, give a listen to this NPR radio story from this morning, in particular the 3:34 point onward, citing the Senate Intelligence Committee report that was just released (from which the above image comes [see p. 38 of the report]). Continue reading ““No Vote Was Changed””

Out of the Mouths of Sailors: Cussing and the Power of the Selective Double Standard


Photo credit: Joshua Eirton

I distinctly remember the day in fifth grade when I was chastised by my peers for not knowing the proper litany of cuss words that, apparently, all fifth graders know. I was the teacher’s pet type who wouldn’t have used those words had I even known them (oh, how things have changed!), but I distinctly remember that my ignorance made me feel babyish and unsophisticated. Of course, I didn’t have the wherewithal at the time to recognize that fifth graders are not usually the standard bearers of maturity and style, but the fact that I could not engage in a secret barter of offensive terms made it clear that my chance at becoming one of the cool kids was being jeopardized by the minute. Another particularly ominous sign came by the sixth grade, the year that I proved that I was inadequately equipped to flip someone off. When I tried, my middle finger simply didn’t look as offensive and foreboding (or, strangely, straight) as the fingers of my peers. In retrospect, only my Reebok high tops saved me. Continue reading “Out of the Mouths of Sailors: Cussing and the Power of the Selective Double Standard”

Hitler’s Ride

icon_bug2Photo credit: NPR

A recent NPR story by author Maureen Pao tells of a sort of bait and switch going on with some of the world’s most famous consumer products, the branding strategies of which are tied to national identity.  Did you know that Levi’s jeans are now no longer manufactured in San Francisco (nor even the United States), or that Stoli Vodka is now not “Russian” at all, but is produced in Latvia? Even the iconic body style of the original Volkswagen Beetle was last produced in Mexico.  Additionally noteworthy to Pao was the decision to move the production of Britain’s famous condiment, HP sauce, to the Netherlands, something likened to “selling the family’s silver.” Continue reading “Hitler’s Ride”