While they’re both tiny agents of destructive infection that just won’t seem to go away no matter how much everyone wants them to, there’s one key difference between Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton and a virus: a virus, at least, isn’t racist.
In his latest taxpayer-funded e-mail screed to support his pathetic bid for the U.S. Congress, Stapleton didn’t talk about how Montana can run a primary election when candidates may not be able to campaign and when voters may not be safe going to polling stations. Instead, he went for the low-hanging fruit of xenophobia and racism to attack China over the Covid-19 virus.
In his letter, entitled “The Wuhan Black Swan,” Stapleton, in about 100 words, managed to put the blame on China three times.
And while calling Covid-19 the Wuhan Virus plays well in the Fox News crowd, it’s part of a long history of racism that is having a real impact today:
That the coronavirus has spread far beyond China hasn’t diminished the spate of East Asian prejudice. Brian Wong, a Rhodes Scholar from Hong Kong who is studying in Britain, has also experienced stigmatization on public transport. Jonathan Mok, a student from Singapore, was the victim of a violent attack on the streets of London. Restaurateurs in San Francisco’s Chinatown report that business has dropped since the start of the outbreak, and a Vietnamese artist was disinvited from a London art fair because of fears she would be perceived as a carrier. “If you are seen to be Asian,” Wong told us, “even if you are not coughing or displaying symptoms, people naturally walk away from you.”
Just a brief look at this article on Wikipedia shows how prevalent the xenophobia and racism linked to the coronavirus pandemic have been.
Montanans—like all Americans—just want some steady leadership as this outbreak spreads across the country. We don’t want e-mailed racist tropes; we don’t want jokes about hand sanitizer. We just want leaders, and in this case, we want a leader who inspires us to believe his office can handle what might be a massive challenge to our primary elections.
Failing that, we just want people like Stapleton to practice some social isolation and just stop talking.
In the few short months Stapleton has left in his political career, is it too much to ask that he do what he’s been elected to do and focus on ensuring election security and ballot access? Too much to ask that he help counties develop a plan to make sure all Montanans can express their voices at the ballot box or in the mail?
It would seem so.