There any number of ways to address someone. Their full name, a nickname, their honorific title and last name. An inmate might be known by their correctional institution number. Whataburger knows me by the table-tent number assigned to my order.
For example, I professionally use all three names, because my first and last name are so incredibly common. “Quinn” is my middle name. Some folks, thinking perhaps my last name is hyphenated, will address me as “Mr. Quinn”—I’m not sure why “Sullivan” gets left off.
It might take a second for me to realize I’m being address, but I’ll respond to “Mr. Quinn.” Interestingly, the last person in my family who would have generally been address in that manner was my maternal great-grandfather. His son, my maternal grandfather, was almost always addressed by his rank as a career military officer.
If someone really wanted to ensure accuracy in addressing me, I suppose that could be accomplished by calling me by either my passport, driver’s license, or social security number—all randomly assigned by government computers and conventions. After all, no one else has those; it would be very scientific. But such a scheme isn’t convenient; it sounds robotic. So we stick with the common names our moms and dads so lovingly picked.
All of which makes the outrage du jour so funny. The subculture of Americans who stand at-ready 24/7 to be offended are demanding we call the current pandemic by its unscientifically scientific name, COVID-19.
Ok, Mr. 16542332; whatever.
Why is it even COVID-19, one might ask. “Coronavirus disease of 2019,” according to the World Health Organization. That’s the “scientific” name, which, frankly, is stupid. Should everyone born in 2019 express horror at sharing that shame? Or maybe its everyone who is 19. Or everyone who had a Corona with their hamburger. Calm down.
In fact, the virus is called “SARS-CoV-2”—but WHO specifically doesn’t call it THAT because “SARS” makes people scared.
Well, so much for that whole science-naming thing.
Naming epidemics after the location of the outbreak is well-grounded in history and practice. It speaks to the spread of the disease and gives a sense to its impact. There wasn’t any outrage, you will recall, over the MERS outbreak’s name. That stands, of course, for “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.” NOTE: It did not start in Indiana.
Such is also the case with a number of other maladies we’ve heard of throughout the years. There’s the Spanish Flu, West Nile, Ebola, and Zika, all of whom are named in relation to their geographic origin.
It is fairly evident why the brutal, murderous communist government of China is haranguing its media and bureaucratic puppets into manufactured outrage over a time-honored colloquial naming scheme as a way to protect its fragile PR image. Less evident is why some people insist on capitulating to them.
“Chinese” correctly identifies the point of origin; and it even more correctly identifies the fact that it has spread as widely as it has because the Chinese government chose to hide the virus’ emergence and rapid spread.
Should we stop referring to American-owned and operated restaurants as “Chinese”? In point of fact, we probably should be—since most “Chinese” restaurants in the United States serve food that has only the most tangential relationship to any dish served in China!
The Arizona-based P.F. Chang’s is a popular chain that calls itself an “authentic Chinese food“ restaurant. In their new stores in China? They call it an “American Bistro”; same menu, but there are “favorite American dishes for an American-style palette.”
Folks get to chose what they are outraged, inflamed, or insulted by; I refuse to expend energy in keeping track of what triggers the countless (and constantly shifting) sensitivities of a culture that has capitulated to the cult of victimhood.
As such, I’ll continue to refer to it as the Chinese coronavirus.