Letter to community: Miami faculty denounces divisive rhetoric by president

President Donald J. Trump has repeatedly (and spuriously) referred to COVID-19, or the global coronavirus pandemic of 2019 and (now) 2020, as the “foreign virus,” the “Chinese virus,” or the “Wuhan virus.”   Not only is such rhetoric false, it is also dangerous.  Loneliness and fear are intrinsic risks of any public health crisis under the best of circumstances. Medical nativism just escalates all the risk of isolation and anxiety our Chinese students might face.


The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have determined that COVID-19 (a name deliberately conferred precisely in order to avoid a geographic place-name for the virus) is a global pandemic.  The US Federal Government — including the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US State Department — officially states that it seeks international cooperation with other governments in combating and containing COVID-19 and will provide funding to international organizations involved in efforts to respond to the pandemic.  Yet President Trump, echoing irresponsible fear-mongers, seems intent on causing geopolitical and geoeconomic instability, not to mention hatred, xenophobia, and racial antipathy, by stirring up archaic, stereotypical, and racist ideas about “Yellow Peril.”

We denounce that divisive rhetoric; and we counter with these truths: viruses know no borders; viruses have no nationalities; a global pandemic requires a global public health response, one that is humane and grounded in humanist ideals about our shared humanity on planet earth.  Rather than a nationalistic response, we urge that we globally unite our efforts toward finding a cure or vaccine, administering and expediting testing, and aiding those so afflicted by this pandemic.

To our institution, Miami University, to our President Gregory Crawford, to our Provost Jason Osborne, and to our Governor Mike DeWine, we thank you all for your proactive efforts to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 in the state of Ohio. A few times over recent weeks, we have been encouraged by people to reach out to our Chinese students in support.

To our students, to Ohioans, to US citizens, but also, equally and passionately, to the global community, we affirm that President Trump’s racist rhetoric is wrong, harmful, and lamentable.  We affirm, finally, that globalization—our interconnectedness, our public health, our common futures—depends also (and vitally) on global compassion and an impassioned denunciation to the regressive and dangerous barriers (racial, national, religious, and other) that threaten to divide us and endanger us.

Faculty and Staff, Global and Intercultural Studies Department

Jana Braziel, Western College Endowed Professor
Sheila Croucher, University Distinguished Professor
Rodney D. Coates, Professor
José Amador, Associate Professor
Damon Scott, Assistant Professor
Elena Jackson Albarrán, Associate Professor
Sandra Garner, Associate Professor
Polly L. Heinkel, Administrative Assistant
Basak Durgun, Visiting Assistant Professor
Elizabeth J. Stigler, Visiting Assistant Professor  
Martha Sapiro, Program Associate
Madelyn Detloff, Professor
Lisa McLaughlin, Associate Professor
Walt Vanderbush, Associate Professor
Juan Carlos L. Albarrán, Senior Lecturer
Naaborle Sackeyfio, Assistant Professor
Kate Dannies, Assistant Professor
Carl Dahlman, Professor
Charles Stevens, Associate Teaching Professor
Dilchoda Berdieva, Lecturer
Oana Godeanu-Kenworthy, Associate Teaching Professor
Jennifer Cohen, Assistant Professor
Marguerite S. Shaffer, Professor
Stanley W. Toops, Associate Professor
Carolyn Hardin, Assistant Professor
Dan DiPiero, Visiting Assistant Professor
Jonathan DeVore, Visiting Assistant Professor
Winona Landis, Visiting Assistant Professor
Mark Allen Peterson, Professor

SIGNATURES OF SUPPORT

Patricia Gallagher Newberry, associate lecturer, Journalism Program
David Sholle, Associate Professor, Media & Culture
Hongmei Li, Associate Professor, Strategic Communication
Cathy Wagner, AAUP Chapter President