Bill Maher argued in favor of referring to the coronavirus as the "Chinese virus," claiming "people who would rather die from the virus than call it by the wrong name."
During the end of his HBO show "Real Time" on Friday, the comedian said it was hypocrisy to avoid naming the disease after its location of origin, as scientists have done it throughout the years.
"Zika is from the Zika forest. Ebola from the Ebola river. Hantavirus from the Hantan river," he began. "There is the West Nile virus and Guinea Worm and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and of course, the Spanish flu. MERS stands for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, it's plastered all over airports and no one blogs about it."
He added with a laugh, "Jesus f--king Christ can't we even have a pandemic without getting offended. When they name Lyme Disease after a town in Connecticut the locals didn't get all ticked off."
The World Health Organization reported that the first cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, were discovered in Wuhan at the end of 2019.
Opponents of using the term "Chinese virus" or "Wutan "Virus" state "its usage could lead to increased discrimination and racism toward Asian Americans — a marginalized group with a long history of being scapegoated amid public health crises," according to The Washington Post.
One online critic posted, "GEEZ, DO SOME RESEARCH!! In 2015 (meaning totally unrelated to Covid-19) the @WHO issued a recommendation to stop naming these after their origins precisely to minimize negative impacts on those people and places. #FactsMatter #FactsNotFear."
"It's not racist to point out that eating bats is bats--t crazy," Maher said on the show, adding, "We should blame China. Not Chinese Americans. If the sun was exploding, Twitter would pile on the first guy who called it a dwarf star."
"So when someone says, 'what if people hear Chinese Virus and blame China?' the answer is, we should blame China. Not Chinese Americans, but we can't stop telling the truth because racists get the wrong idea," he continued.
"There are always going to be idiots out there who want to indulge their prejudices. But this is an emergency. Don't we have bigger tainted fish to fry?"
Check out some more of the online reactions below:
The #WuhanFlu came from the #WetMarkets of Wuhan. As uncomfortable as it is to point a finger, these markets must be abolished. To protect the wild species that are often kept alive and slaughtered in situ, and to protect humanity from these cross-bred viruses.
"Chinese" is an ethnicity. It should not be named after an ethnicity. Viruses were named after places and animals. BTW, the Spanish flu started in Kansas among American WW1 soldiers training for war. They transported it to France. Spanish newspapers were the first to mention it.
Because despite Bill making a mistake on the Spanish Flu he is still correct. Covid-19 originated from China. They tried to cover it by silencing whistleblowers like Li Wenliang because they're an impressive dictatorship. It's not racist to call it the Chinese Virus.