COVID-19 and the lessons of xenophobia

Social distancing has already led to an almost instinctive reaction to recoil from those outside of one’s immediate circle, which would only intensify further as familiarity decreases. At the height of the virus outbreak, remarks or instinctive silent reactions like “Oh, let’s cross the sidewalk, some Chinese people are walking our way” was a response not just found amid racists. It’s no coincidence that at a time when there’s a concerted effort to support the restaurant industry, Chinese eateries have been struggling since the first days of the pandemic and continue to find it difficult to drum up business.At a time when the erstwhile allure of a liberal international order and U.S. leadership are both taking a hard hit, it is imperative for Washington in particular to take a firm stance against the rising tide of racism. One of the unshakeable strengths of American exceptionalism remains the U.S. Constitution. Its 14th amendment in particular guarantees equal protection by law, and hence rejects discrimination against people of various groups.

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