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SURIANO: We all have roles in combating coronavirus disease


Column: A RINO's View


We are at war. 

Our enemy is not a nation or an ideology. It is much more insidious than that, as our enemy is unseen and impervious to arms. Our enemy is a virus known as the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 (or, controversially, the Wuhan virus). I will get back to that. 

What we need to do now in response to this virus is to come together. We have to follow the plan to flatten the curve. That is to stay at home, avoid crowds and wash your hands. As college students, we cannot feel that we are immune from this even if we are less likely to get gravely ill, and we have to do our part by social distancing. 

That means if you are still in New Brunswick or at home, no house parties. Avoid the urge to meet up with friends and remain at home if at all possible. We must do our bit to stop the spread. I know this is hard, especially for seniors like me, as this virus has stolen the last days of our college careers. 

Think of it like this: If our grandfathers could storm the beaches of Normandy or fight in Korea or in Vietnam, then the least we can do to keep them safe is stay inside and watch Netflix. 

But if a pandemic was not enough, we are also fighting another enemy — a more conventional enemy. That enemy is misinformation and propaganda. This propaganda campaign is coming from familiar sources: the government of Russia, Iran and the Communist Party of China (CPC). The spokesman for China’s foreign minister has been spreading conspiracy theories on twitter that the virus was caused by the United States military. 

Now, think about this for a second: Why is he tweeting this? Chinese citizens cannot read his tweets as the Chinese Communists do not allow free information. So, this is exclusively for Western audiences, and his goal is to sow discord among Americans while covering up how his government failed the citizens of China. 

The CPC failed its citizens and allowed this plague to spread around the world with incomplete information. The Chinese authorities downplayed the virus, spread information to the World Health Organization that there was "no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus” and reprimanded doctors for trying to save lives by sounding the alarm bells about COVID-19. 

Do not let the CPC off the hook for its failures to protect its citizens. Could the U.S. response have been better? Of course, human institutions could always be better, but our leaders will be held to account at the ballot box, in the media and in congressional investigation. The CPC will not because its people cannot, so it is up to the international community and America to hold them accountable.

Now, people have expressed concern about racism against Asian-Americans due to this virus. We must be vigilant against this kind of bigotry. It is divisive and ignorant. Do not let this pandemic spread the virus of hate. Asian-Americans are no more likely to get this bug than anyone else. Viruses do not care about nationality, even if racists do. 

That being said, we cannot allow the CPC to get away with lies and propaganda due to this. The outbreak started in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province. This is a fact and not a reflection on character. I have made great pains to refer to the CPC because when I am critical of China, I am critical, not of the people of China or Asian people in general, but the tyrants in Beijing. 

Do not forget if you see the CPC accusing people who call COVID-19 the “Wuhan Virus” of racism that the CPC is also in fact racist. Do not allow racism or the CPC divide us.

We are all in this together. The onus is on us, the college students and the young, to protect the old. So again, stay inside if you can and only leave if you must. Avoid crowds and practice social distancing. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face. Fear not, America is strong and will weather this storm as we have weathered every storm that has come before. 

I am not saying the coming weeks will be easy. There will be hardship and our economy will suffer and take time to recover from this. These are necessary reactions to our current situation. We may be sad due to the moments we have lost and will lose, march madness, senior days and graduation. Try to be happy for the moments we will gain with our grandparents and our immuno-compromised friends.  

Robert Suriano is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history. His column, "A RINO's View," runs on alternate Mondays.

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*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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