Gregory Brown — a popular blogger who runs ASAPscience with Mitchell Moffit — tweeted a video Thursday to his 772,000 followers, warning them to not "use" the deadly coronavirus "as an excuse to be racist."
What else did he say?
Brown recalled the SARS virus that hit Canada years ago, saying that "with only 44 people dying in total in Canada, it had a huge impact on [Toronto]. We lost a lot of tourism, we lost millions of dollars, but most importantly we saw a lot of stigma and racism towards Chinese people."
He then switched gears to address the coronavirus, which is officially a worldwide health emergency: "It's important that we do not repeat those racist notions that happened here in Toronto, and we all need to be aware of this when we talk about the current coronavirus."
He added: "On our social media channels, we have seen lots of people saying things like 'this always happens in China' and relating it a lot to the types of foods that Chinese people eat."
Then Brown turned the tables. "But it's important to remember that western food practices are what created Mad Cow Disease, and also western meat consumption has created a big issue with antibiotic resistance."
He concluded: "We need to listen to and trust public health professionals, and we need to not overreact, and we need to not use this as an excuse to be racist."
Here's the clip, which is preceded by the text, "Using the #coronavirus to enact racism about Chinese food practices is misguided, especially if you understand western meat consumption." (Content warning: Several comments below the clip include videos of apparent culinary practices that some might find difficult to watch):
How did folks react to his warning?
A good number of Twitter users ripped Brown for being more concerned about personal attitudes than saving lives, among other things. Here's a sampling:
- "'Only 44' persons dead in Toronto … How many lives lost would matter to him?"
- "'To enact racism about Chinese food practices' is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen someone try to say."
- "China (Asia in general really) has many food practices that are unsanitary, barbaric, and cruel, and if practiced elsewhere would be rightfully reviled. Couldn't just stick to science fun facts, could you. Another default subscription removed."
- "If it's kosher and non-racist to criticize unhealthy American eating habits and diets (and it is) then it's equally kosher to do the same with other cultures. Constructive criticism is a very good thing."
- "Food choice tends to be culturally and geographically based, and even then demonstrates wide variability within most cultures. To equate that with racism is just more stupidity from the Intersectionality Olympics. Tired of the rampant dumbassedness."
- "You know how sometimes a video like this is playing while you have the sound muted, but you can already hear in your head EXACTLY what the person's voice sounds like.. then you unmute it and.. BINGO!"