For some, the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired innovation, charity, and global unity. For others, it seems to have offered an opportunity to advance less righteous agendas.
Thousands worldwide are dying – worldwide. Countries are closing borders and fighting for resources. Sadly, this seems to inspire negative comment: Language like “Chinese virus,” is declared, generating hatred, fear, blame, and mistrust. Recent reports state that some, namely white supremacists, believe and argue that COVID-19 is a manufactured bioweapon. Others may soon see opportunities to begin using it as one.
Reportedly, users of extremist-friendly platforms like Telegram have been sharing racial messages and memes linked to the coronavirus. Such sites allow users to post relatively unfiltered content, as well as private encrypted messages. In recent months, users who have contracted the coronavirus are urging one another to spread their bodily fluids through spray bottles in public places where minorities often congregate. Members have also been encouraged to leave saliva on door handles, spit on elevator buttons, and, on March 17, a Telegram user allegedly shared a meme encouraging sick people to cough on minorities. In other cases, neo-Nazis and white supremacists have been promoting conspiracy theories that Jewish people are responsible for the coronavirus outbreak.
Although such messages are prevalent on media platforms frequented by extremists, similar messages have been spreading on more mainstream platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Many have been using the virus to argue that the U.S. should restrict immigration by shutting down its borders and expanding the travel ban from foreign countries. Some go so far as to blame minorities abroad for ‘creating’ the virus and minorities here in the U.S. for propagating its spread.
I much prefer to write about these troubling events in a fictional setting. My Zachary Blake novels focus on troubling societal issues like random violence, sexual assault, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy. These issues stand as roadblocks to creating a better America. Aren't we better than this? Shouldn't we expect a global pandemic to bring out the best in our citizens rather than the worst?
There is still time for us to reevaluate the state of our country and our citizenry. The good news is that these negative influences are a marginal minority. Heartwarming stories or heroism in the face of this crisis are being told every day. Sacrifices are being made on the front lines, and people are stepping up, big time. Today, busloads of medical professionals head to the front lines in New York City. These are true American heroes. This should be our focus. These brave men and women are shining examples of what is being done to strengthen our democracy, improve our social safety net, and rebuild our infrastructure. United we stand—one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all is the only way to truly make America great again.