Following reports on the deadly coronavirus’s possible origins, people are focusing on accusations that the coronavirus was spread through fruit bat soup.
The coronavirus spreading in China has a likely epicenter: The now-closed Wuhan’s Huanan market, where meat was in close quarters with live animals. And though not verified, there’s thought that bat droppings may have played a significant role in spreading diseases like the current coronavirus strain.
Fears and xenophobic comments are escalating with viral videos of people eating foreign delicacies, including a resurfaced 2016 video of a woman eating a bat.
A bat(-eating) woman from China... pic.twitter.com/D8JNvClxy4— Byron Wan (@Byron_Wan) January 23, 2020
The woman featured in the video, Chinese vlogger Wang Mengyun, apologized for eating the bat after receiving hate messages and death threats in recent days, according to News.com.au.
“Sorry everyone, I shouldn’t eat bats,” Wang said.
She also clarified that the video was filmed in Palau, an island country in the Pacific Ocean—not Wuhan, China.
Another video from popular Chinese blogger Chen Qiushi shared Wednesday to 84,000 Twitter followers describes Cantonese-speaking diners, likely from the southeastern Pearl River Delta, partaking in bat soup at an upscale restaurant. (Again, not Wuhan, which is located in central China.)
这东西长得像不像死神躺在你碗里？之前看纪录片，蝙蝠生活在山洞里，就地排泄，山洞里积了厚厚一层粪便，粪便里生活着各种恶心的虫子…经历这次事件能让中国人彻底放弃吃野味吗？ pic.twitter.com/6mNQmBWCpi— 陈秋实（陳秋實） (@chenqiushi404) January 22, 2020
But no matter the disinformation, peanut-gallery members are jumping in with bigoted takes.
After the show last night, we had Chinese food. I ordered General Tso's hairy fruit bat, imported from #Wuhan. As I've mentioned on the show, that market sold civet, foxes, rats, peacocks, wolf pups salamanders, snakes & porcupines to eat. Disgusting. Time bomb. #coronavirus— Todd Schnitt (@toddschnitt) January 25, 2020
Various social media commentators, however, are fighting back on the stigmas and reinforcement of nasty racial narratives.
“The reason Western coverage of the coronavirus is so racist is bc it feeds orientalizing narratives of Chinese people as a dirty, diseased orientals and provides an excuse for increased Western aggression & ‘containment’ of China as well as suspicion of Chinese in Western nations,” one Twitter user wrote in a tweet that received over 25,000 likes.
The reason Western coverage of the coronavirus is so racist is bc it feeds orientalizing narratives of Chinese people as a dirty, diseased orientals and provides an excuse for increased Western aggression & "containment" of China as well as suspicion of Chinese in Western nations— . (@muqingmq) January 26, 2020
what may look disgusting to us may be culturally appropriate to others. attacking the chinese for their eating culture is entirely racist and borderline xenophobic. plus, it won’t solve the problem. https://t.co/C0OUsGfnVl— Atlas 🌞 #JunkTerrorBill (@aaronxhood) January 26, 2020
Ex. 2: Look at the framing of this vid and then look at all the comments.— Amanda 余美娜 (@catcontentonly) January 26, 2020
It only took a couple of days to reframe Chinese ppl as victims of coronavirus worthy of empathy to dirty orientalists who brought it on themselves https://t.co/nBAjnisjav https://t.co/OsAgW0Jl7x
And others decried the hypocrisy of the anti-Chinese rhetoric. As one user wrote, “Have y’all never heard of E. Coli outbreaks from lettuce?”
It's incredible the hoops ppl are jumping thru to be chauvinist. Acting like they suddenly have no memory of how we have meat recalls constantly, butcher animals en masse, and constantly eat intelligent animals like octopi or cute pet animals like pigs and rabbits— Lowry David (@Cam_Oflage) January 26, 2020
“Chinese people eat dogs and that’s how the coronavirus must have started .”— Ben Martin (@Ben_Martin2) January 27, 2020
Have y’all never heard of E. Coli outbreaks from lettuce?
Stop spreading this racist crap https://t.co/WaGu09zpAo