Recently on Twitter, President Donald Trump called the Covid-19 coronavirus a “Chinese virus.” This is yet another failed response to a pandemic and a classic play in Trump’s playbook of using hate.

First, the Trump administration tried to downplay the coronavirus. He initially portrayed the situation as “one person coming in from China,” and went on to contradict public health experts and claim the situation was “under control.” These deliberate acts of misinformation turned out to be catastrophic. It delayed the U.S. response and changed public perception of the virus, leading to ineffective containment and testing efforts. When downplaying clearly didn’t work, he turned toward hate.

Calling the coronavirus a “Chinese virus” is very dangerous. Instead of dealing effectively with the outbreak, Trump is diverting attention toward a nation and an ethnic group, promoting hate and racism. This is reminiscent of how Hitler used Jewish people as scapegoats to the Weimar Republic’s problems, which contributed to the Nazis’ rise to power and the Holocaust. This is not the first time Trump made polarizing comments based on race – he began his presidential campaign by referring to Mexican immigrants as criminals – and it will not be the last as he continues with his crusade of xenophobia and nationalism. Naming viruses after their countries of origin is also scientifically dubious and unproductive.

This is a time when us citizens of the world need to unite. Call Covid-19 by its name. We are all suffering together, regardless of our nationality.

Daniel Wang, Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School