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Hold back, act responsibly in crisis

March 29, 2020

The editor of a major national news channel believes that the dietary habit of a handful of Chinese individuals exclusively responsible for everything associated with the C-19 threat. He has posted a twitter to this effect. A few months ago, this man probably laughed at those who claimed consumption of Chowmein encourages a tendency to rape women. Now he appears no different. His superficial reading, or reasoning, is the immediate problem, but that is not all. There is a need here to question the simple assumption that everything has a single point beginning, or point of origin, as if a removal of that single point will solve the problem for all, or forever. A medical condition may be improved by treatment or vaccine, though it will fail to cure popular prejudices.

Call me a Chinese. My food preferences are probably different from yours. I picked it up since my early childhood, long before the emergence of the first C-19 victim. Why did my food habits not kill anyone until about four months ago? Probably because it did not have the capacity to kill anyone. If it has since developed a new capacity for mass murder, it is probably because something else is hiding behind it. Someone else is probably entered into my food habits without its knowledge or approval. This alien substance is the real mass murderer, then, not my food habits.

Let us be reasonable. If you panic, you will end up calling everyone you dislike a cold blooded mass murderer. In the bargain, your unfounded suspicion will cause me to be lynched to death, or my family and community to be dismissed with a terrible reputation of a perpetual criminal. The best we can do when we do not have credible information is to keep quiet. The worst we can do is circulate unverified forwards. Even if we wish to help, sometimes the best option is to hold back. It is certainly better than spreading misinformation.

Author:
Dr. Anirban Bandyopadhyay, Associate Professor, Unitedworld School of Liberal Arts and Mass Communication (USLM)

Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.

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