Observations on “Censorship”

An Econbrowser reader, defending the use of the term “China virus” instead of the Covid-19 term, writes:

That would seem accurate.

A China virus is not racist, it’s placist. Other places with epidemics (arguably all racist): Spanish flu, German measles, Lassa fever, West Nile virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme Disease (Connecticut), Ebola Fever, MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), Zika fever, Japanese encephalitis, Marburg Virus, and Norovirus (Norwalk, Ohio). And let’s not forget Legionnaire’s disease, discriminatory against veterans!

I think a Chinese-American professor censoring criticism of Xi’s China is a really bad idea. A really, really bad idea.

Two observations:

  1. Context is important: There have been numerous attacks on Americans of Asian descent (not just Chinese) because of the incendiary rhetoric used by Mr. Trump. See e.g., Time.
  2. If multiple individuals criticize something, one single person does not take ownership. E.g., if Xi and numerous American economists criticize Trump’s unilateral approach to trade policy, are the numerous American economists siding with Xi?