This coronavirus is new. But the diseases of xenophobia and racism are not. And as history has shown, outbreaks of the latter are potentially harder to contain, and far more lethal.
But the disease isn’t the only thing that’s spreading — or the only thing causing harm. Across the internet, we’ve seen widespread eruptions of racist scapegoating, blaming Chinese for a disease that has so far only killed Chinese. The posts frequently claim or imply that the epidemic is the result of Chinese eating habits and hygiene, often pointing to a Chinese social media clip in which a female “influencer” is seen eating a bowl of bat soup, while saying that Chinese “eat anything and everything and infect the world with viruses,” calling Chinese a “dirty people who can’t keep order,” and warning people to “think twice before ordering anything Chinese.”