March 21, 2020

"Why do you keep calling this the Chinese virus? Ethnicity does not cause the virus?"/"It comes from China... I'm not a racist... I comes from (pause) China."

This is an exchange that took place at a recent White House press conference. It's become a meme on TikTok, where someone posted the original, and then — because this is how TikTok works — many other people have done their own little lip sync to the audio track. The original with Trump and all the variations are collected on this page. I'm reading these as supportive of Trump. I think!

I'll just give you 2 examples:




@alaskadude ##coronavirus ##covid19 ##president ##racebaiting what a stupid stupid question that is.
♬ original sound - heresjohnnyagain



@chey_chey90 ♬ original sound - heresjohnnyagain

60 comments:

rhhardin said...

It's temporizing the essence (Kenneth Burke). What a thing is is represented by its origin or its end.

rhhardin said...

The reverse is immanentizing the eschaton.

Money Manger said...

Remember, the official Chinese media was alleging that the virus was introduced into China by the US, particularly the US military. This is Trump’s way of telling them to knock it off.

Darrell said...

China is said to be spending lots of money, and exercising their muscle with people that do business in and with China, to push their narratives proclaiming their innocence and outrage at being accused of wrongdoing. Are you one of those beneficiaries?

Ann Althouse said...

TikTok is Chinese, so I'm wondering how long this particular meme will survive. Maybe it seems pro-Chinese to... whoever does the censorship on TikTok. It is subjective.

Ann Althouse said...

To be clear: This post is about the TikTok meme, so please watch the videos before commenting. I don't want a general discussion of the question whether the virus is Chinese and whether it is right or wrong to call it Chinese.

Ann Althouse said...

It's fine to talk about whether the people making these videos agree with the questioner or with Trump and whether they are making fun of the idea that "Chinese virus" is racist or agree with the questioner that it is.

Darrell said...

Most people see the reporter as stupid and biased. There will be few who don't when this is all over.

tim maguire said...

Both people give a sincere-seeming “duh!” flourish at the end: “It comes from....(duh!) China,” which suggests to me they think Trump made a good point.

Darrell said...

TikTok is said to lay down trackers and other viruses on whatever you access their site with. Those are Chinese viruses, too.

Fernandistein said...

Trump and the bimbo speak in the background while this Asian guy hams it up and tosses a strange mixture of animals, some alive and squirming, into a hot wok.

Owen said...

Funny stuff. The videoclips are allowing the author/actors to deliver that wonderful Trumpian enunciation: “...it comes from...[subtle sibilant pop of italicized emphasis]China.” Nobody says that word now the way Trump said it then. He owns it. He says it...perfectly. When you hear it now, everywhere and always, you will hear him saying it just that way: so beautifully. [Hold up hand making the Trumpian “O” of perfection and beauty.]

I think this riff is going, dare I say it, viral.

AllenS said...

Damn, I'm glad Trump is our President. Can the media look any worse? Of course they can, and they will.

stlcdr said...

Tiktok is an interesting phenomenon. It is short forms of entertainment (solving one of YouTube’s major annoyances), satisfying our growing short attention spans.

Being owned by ‘the chinese’; what does that actually mean? Is that a problem? The Chinese government is a highly controlling regime, but I believe it’s in their best interest to keep tiktok highly permissive in the flow of opinion/entertainment as it satisfies the masses. There isn’t enough room for a solid stance of anti-Chinese propaganda, before the viewer moves onto another ‘tok’ of a guy making a water slide out of condom wrappers.

Curious George said...

Yeah, I read it like you. Pro Trump. At least the ones you posted and the additional I watched. The Fake News press just can't figure it out.

Narayanan said...

What about "China Syndrome"

Matt Sablan said...

Calling a car Japanese, German or American -- also racist?

wildswan said...

I think Trump is winning TikTok but I also think that the Chinese trying to disown the whole thing indicates they are getting upset and being clumsy. China flu comes right out of certain practices prevalent in China and not elsewhere and so did the swine flu and the avian flu which they managed to disconnect from themselves rather than changing the practices. And they are trying it again but with Trump it isn't working. Maybe they will consider changing the causes instead promoting "eyes-wide-shut about the cause of COVID-19" (By the way I think COVID-19 is a far more sinister name than China flu. It's a name like SPECTRE whereas China flu is sort of homely and usual.)

Birches said...

What Owen said. The second Trump said China only the way he can. I knew that clip would go viral. I didn't realize that it would go viral with other people lip synching it, but oh well.

BUMBLE BEE said...

So, December 7, Hawaii, something happened? Who remembers the origin of SARS? Who will remember COVID-19? Hey, whatever happened to the liberal sacrament of ORAL HISTORY? Melamine pet foods and baby formula? Sure you can trust 'em they're just inscrutable!

BUMBLE BEE said...

Damn bat eatin Amish!

tcrosse said...

Those Chinese viruses all look alike to me.

Robert said...

1. I hear rumor the Chinese own and operate TikTok. That is why some people stay away from it.
2. Notice the creativity and intelligence of the people contributing to the meme. And the diversity. Awesome. The power of the individual unleashed! I find it reassuring and inspiring.

Lurker21 said...

The Trump videos are funny. Cheyenne Schurr, the girl/woman with the nose ring and the curious hair, is very funny and talented and ... well ... pretty.

But should you really be encouraging adult audiences to visit sites with high school kids cavorting before the camera, writhing to pop music? It's addictive and you may be spreading another sort of contagion.

"Is Zuck Even Human?" is a good clip, though. The Facebook founder is smoking meats. Oh boy, is he ever smoking meats. If I had stock in the company I might be worried about his new passion.

traditionalguy said...

The name is now the Chloroquine Canceled Disease. That was quick.

Sebastian said...

I know we are supposed to do the pop culture thing here and comment on some videos, but I beg to differ with DJT.

While it was entirely proper to call the Chinese on their BS and label the virus Chinese, it's best to call it the Wuhan virus.

We don't call Lyme disease Connecticut disease, or Ebola, African Wasting Disease. Though there's Spanish flu, true.

Robert Cook said...

"China is said to be spending lots of money, and exercising their muscle with people that do business in and with China, to push their narratives proclaiming their innocence and outrage at being accused of wrongdoing."

Why not? That's what every powerful institution or entity does. Corporations do it, other nations do it, the USA is the KING of doing it!

Wince said...

Ann Althouse said (6/6/16)...
"Tough to read teeth, not lips, from a still photo."

I know, but what word would require so MUCH showing of teeth -- with disgust lines on the nose and inward sloping eyebrows?

...By the way, here's a guessing game I made up. I took this picture from the TV yesterday (the Jake Tapper Sunday show). The question is: What word is Trump saying?

ADDED: The winner appeared at 9:05 AM. EDH:

Chi-na

Milo Minderbinder said...

Today's "news media" is all about making news, not reporting news. Peter Alexander is a prime example, a pretty face who takes up time on NBC solely to create clickbait and ratings for the network so it can sell airtime. Sixteen different and more respectful ways to ask the question Alexander asked, but he chose -- in a time of indisputable crisis -- the lamest and most confrontational version intentionally hoping, not for an inspirational message from the president, but to piss him off. And, yippee for NBC, Alexander makes some news. What a complete and utter waste of space on this planet.

Bob Boyd said...

Is "Chinese" even an ethnicity? It's a nationality. There are numerous ethnicities within China.
I agree these are supportive of Trump and his statement of the obvious. If they thought it was racist, the kids wouldn't be putting themselves in the role of the racist.
Maybe the press will give these kids the Covington treatment and tell us the Trump's Hitler Youth has taken over TikTok. Wouldn't surprise me.

Owen said...

Sebastian: Your call for more localization in the name has to be balanced by the euphony of the result. "Wuhan flu" rolls off the tongue far better than "COVID-19" which (as "wildswan" notes) is Marvel Comix-grade cheesy. But if I think of Trump saying "Wuhan flu" it doesn't have the same outstanding and memorable sonic quality as when he says "it comes from...(open ital) China (close ital)."

IMHO.

Robert said...

TikTok reminds me of the "elevator pitch" we were taught many years ago. Maybe the same concept should be applied to Comments.

Owen said...

Wince at 9:09: "...Chi-na." What an awesome cross-reference to the early days of Trump's campaign! This is not a new thing at all. He identified the adversary early and has never altered his view. Thanks for the enriched context...

Mrs. X said...

To me, the first video (the guy) seems to be snarking at Trump. Look at his shifty eyes and the way he creepily emerges. I thought it was funny—I like Trump but I’m fine with him being the subject of comedy—but I don’t think it was meant to be supportive.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

@ Molly H

"Media now openly begging to be free from criticism, no matter how merited, during the public health crisis they're doing a poor job of covering."

hombre said...

If the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) says “China Virus” is racist, it must be racist. Just ask the leftmediaswine for confirmation.

Epoch Times calls it the “CCP Virus.” More apt I think. Less susceptible to media PC pimping.

Michael The Magnificent said...

COVID-19 literally means:

China
Originated
Viral
Iinfectious
Disease
Number 19

Ken B said...

I think the effort to make a meme out of it suggests it will be pro Trump. Otherwise you just call him racist and go back to watching CNN. Performative outrage will suffice. If you are making mock then the reporter is more likely your target.

mikee said...

At least Trump didn't say, "Red China" or "Communist China" or that the virus originated under "the incompetent and maliciously mendacious auspices of the totalitarian dictatorship that is the Communist government of the great people of China, who deserve better than the dregs of a 19th century Marxist utopian fantasy in positions of authority." At least.

Howard said...

Both tiktoker's are spot on. Their facial schtikky expressions compliment Trump's cadence and inflection to ABC (Glengarry...) his POV.

Howard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Howard said...

The racism issue has nothing to do with the advisability of hammering China so hard on the Coronavirus front page. It is also immaterial that what Trump is saying is technically accurate.

Bob Boyd said...

How about calling it "Chairmen's Xi's Gift To The World"

Bilwick said...

I think Trump should start calling it the Kung Flu--just to make "liberals" (the scummiest and stupidest people in the world) angry. If they've got a right to pick our pockets and steal our guns, the rest of us have a right to at least tweak their noses whenever we get the chance.

Yancey Ward said...

I agree with Bilwick- I wish Kung Flu had caught on. Carl Douglas could use the added royalties.

daskol said...

Owen has explained, I think, why, but it's almost impossible not to want to repeat "CHAI - NUH" out loud when you hear Trump say it, or even better, see him saying it. I have received multiple texts with this new spelling of China or some variant in the last day.

Nate Holt said...

Spanish Flu (1918) - how was/is this name viewed?

n.n said...

Diversity (i.e. color judgments) breeds adversity.

n.n said...

Diversity in numbers? Diversity in colors (i.e. low information attributes), an ethical doctrine normalized by the Pro-Choice religion. People should not indulge diversitist thought and practice, which denies individual dignity, and reduces people to colorful clumps of cells.

n.n said...

COVID-19 literally means:

Acrimonious ambiguity.

The biological hazard (or weapon) lab in proximity does change the calculus of origin and creation. The Chinese communists need to stop trying to share/shift responsibility. Their Western politico, business, and social allies need to strop spreading disinformation.

Ryan said...

Read the comments on tiktok. Most people are saying "he's not lying, its true."

Unknown said...

It's not racist to call the virus the Wuhan virus as many reprters did, or the Chinese virus, though the latter seems like it might be Trump's invention, and his intent isn't racist but likely a shot at the Chinese government.

Ann Althouse said...

@wince

LOL

Bruce Hayden said...

I prefer Wuhan Coronavirus, etc, since that is the place it was first discovered, and very likely developed (which the Chinese and the left are going to try to pretend wasn’t the case). And there have been other Chinese origin diseases in recent years that we have faced. But I can accept that Chinese Coronavirus because it was very likely developed at the BSL-4 Wuhan Virology lab, China’s only BSL-4 virology lab.

There are a lot of reasons why it was likely developed at this lab. For one thing, it has a very sparse genetic tree, with maybe 1/6 the entries that the original SARS Coronavirus has. It’s development seems very much accelerated, appearing to have diverged up to 260 years ago from the SARS(-1) line, but that line to the present is much shorter. Moreover SARS-2 appears significantly more effective in attaching to cells and entering them through ACE2 receptors, despite none of the other before identified SARS and SARS-like animal hosts (bats, civets, pangolins) having comparable ACE2 receptors. Which probably means that ferrets (with similar ACE2 receptors) were utilized to develop the coronavirus, and this type of coronavirus has never been seen in ferrets, or similar animals, in the wild. In short there, you just don’t get mutations, like that involving ACE2 receptors, naturally, without a host with similar characteristics. And then there is the pesky problem that the coronal spikes are different (and part of that difference involves attachment to ACE2 receptors). There are stretches of genetic material there that look like HIV-1, which apparently utilizes the same ACE2 pathway. Moreover, the modified virus jumped the species barrier much too easily, which strongly suggests that it was developed for human infection. Usually there are a number, or at least some, false starts. There were none here.

Currently, as far as I can tell, the consensus is that the SARS-2 coronavirus wasn’t genetically engineered, which leaves forced evolution, very likely using ferrets. As a friend, who had had the army at Ft Detrick pay for his PhD (Johns Hopkins had previously paid for his MD), has said, the SARS-2 genome doesn’t look genetically engineered, and it doesn’t look like the sort of thing that militarized bioengineering would do. One interesting thought is that it might be a Red Team counterattack type virus.

One other interesting facet of SARS-2 is that it is capable of pre-symptomatic infection. With SARS-1, the epidemic could be controlled by using heat detectors at airports, and pulling out people with elevated temperatures for testing. This doesn’t work as successfully with SARS-2, because people can be contagious before they show any symptoms, including an elevated temperature. This makes the virus that much harder to detect and fight. Indeed, there appear to have been carriers who were infectious, but never really ever showed significant symptoms.

Bruce Hayden said...

“ There are a lot of reasons why it was likely developed at this lab.”

Maybe this needs expansion. First and foremost, if the Chinese were to do research on SARS-like coronaviruses, Wuhan is the place that they most likely would be doing it. It is their only BSL-4 rated virology lab. Moreover, there have been significant interactions between foreign (such as US) research programs investigating coronaviruses, and the Wuhan facility. They seem to have routinely sent out Chinese researchers to work with their peers around the world (very often on research projects with significant Chinese funding - Harvard, in particular, seems to have taken a lot of Chinese money for this sort of research, and as a result seem to be esp zealous in their defense) and then returned to the Wuhan lab. Moreover, the lab there appears to have received, over time, numerous coronavirus samples from researchers around the world. Some maybe smuggled there, for example from the Winnipeg BSL-4 facility, where a Chinese husband and wife pair of researchers had been working, until sent back to China by the Canadian government.

Nichevo said...

Howard said...
The racism issue has nothing to do with the advisability of hammering China so hard on the Coronavirus front page. It is also immaterial that what Trump is saying is technically accurate.

3/21/20, 10:12 AM



Advisability of hammering? You skeered, Marine? The sooner we drop forty nuclear warheads on Beijing and return the little buggers to the Warring States era, the better. We have all their recipes, what else do they have to contribute?

If that's not in the cards, then the worthy oriental gentlemen would do well to learn their place in the order of things, and they would do exceedingly well not to foist their biowarfare noodlings on us.

Advisability of hammering. I wonder what you think about the advisability of the incessant D hammering on PDT.

Nichevo said...

And of the Chinese hammering on USA.

Howard said...

From little bitch to Macho Macho Macho Man. The two sides of pride culture.

Nichevo said...

Shorter Howie: Pay attention to me!

I notice you do not choose to explain yourself.

Unknown said...

Bruce-

A very quick PubMed search ("bat ace2") turns up multiple publications regarding bats, ace2 receptors, sars, and sars-like viruses. All sorts of interesting rabbit-holes to fall down (or bat-caves to enter). Said quick late-night perusal suggests that China has lots of bats carrying various coronavirus strains. The fact that the Wuhan virology institute is publishing in this makes me less likely to suspect that they've been concurrently attempting to weaponize it.

While I hesitate to encourage the CCP to undertake large projects of any sort, I wonder whether--after we're all through this--it would be worthwhile to try to treat some of the bats...

-Former lab rat