Stop Confusing Innocuous Jokes With Racism

People attend a demonstration against racism in front of the state agency of the German state of Saxony in Berlin, Germany, Aug.31, 2018. Anger over the suspected killing of a man by two refugees has sparked days of protests in the eastern German city of Chemnitz. (Joerg Carstensen/dpa via AP)

Yesterday, a tweet floated across my Twitter feed that featured a journalist being outraged about something. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. At the daily rate that outraged journalists post about their outrage on Twitter, you could fill an entire library with volumes of books.

This little bit in particular, however, made me laugh. It was from CBS White House correspondent Weijia Jiang and, according to her, a White House official called the Wuhan virus the “Kung-Flu,” and to her face of all things.

“This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” to my face. Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back,” tweeted Jiang who hails from China and is now a West Virginia resident.

Jiang did not name the White House official, prompting many to doubt her story and accuse her of attempting to make trouble where there was none.

I’m fully ready to believe someone at the White House said it, but not because they’re doused in racism. They just have a sense of humor. If someone did call it the “Kung-Flu”, then it has nothing to do with hatred toward the Chinese people and everything to do with the fact that it’s a play on words of martial art that originated in China, the same place the virus also originated.

“Kung-Flu” is a clever play on words to make light of a Chinese-born virus, not a malicious attack on Chinese people.

I thought it was funny enough to make my own joke about it.

This was enough to make some people very mad, informing me that I was racist and that they were reporting me to Twitter for harassment. Mediaite, after covering the outrage of the lefty blue-checks over Jiang’s claim, even gave me a solo mention about how not offended I was and posting my tweet.

I’m not Chinese. That much is clear. However, it bugs me that, as a white man, anything I say or do that even approaches humor is automatically taken as a malicious move against anyone who doesn’t look like me. This assumption that I’m hawking racism under the guise of laughter is, in and of itself, racism. This isn’t considered by society at large, but it’s true.

I see so often people making jokes, or even just stating an observable fact, that are immediately labeled as racist for doing so. It makes villains out of innocents and even makes us dumber as a society as we begin to do anything but address elephants in the room. This need to knee-jerk into a misguided righteous fury over perceived racism that isn’t even there is making it hard to even communicate honestly, and even in some cases, warmly.

What Jiang and her journalist pals are doing is just bad for society. It’s bad for our perception of the world around us. It’s bad for our culture.

We need to learn the difference between what is racism and what isn’t. Calling a virus the “Kung-Flu” isn’t racism, it’s just humor based around the origin of something bad. There was no condemnation of Chinese people in it, or ignorant stereotyping. It was just a joke.

Let people innocently joke around.

Brandon Morse
Senior Editor. Culture critic, and video creator. Good at bad photoshops.
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