An Australian reporter has come under fire after sharing photos of her family in “Wuhan bats” costumes for Halloween.
Caroline Marcus, who works with Sky News, dressed up as a “Wuhan street vendor” along with her husband Jake Swarts, while they put their young son in a bat costume.
.@carolinemarcus on the new report finding 80 per cent of festival goers use MDMA: These are drug festivals, not dance or music festivals, it’s absolutely shameful.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) July 17, 2019
The couple also carried boxes marked “Wuhan Bats” and “Bats [for] ¥10” to match their aprons.
“Because what could seriously be more terrifying in 2020 than a couple of Wuhan street vendors hawking one very edible bat?” Marcus captioned her Instagram post, including emojis of a bat and a steaming bowl.
Marcus has since made her Instagram account (@carolinemarcus) private, but some managed to save screenshots of her family’s costumes.
While the reporter received some encouraging comments — namely from fellow media personalities Melissa Hoyer and Jacinta Tynan — it did not take long before waves of users accused her of racism.
“Beyond awful,” one user wrote under a repost by @appropriationau. “These two are terrifying but not in the way they are thinking.”
Another commented, “Unprofessional and just highly disrespectful. Such hypocrites.”
Claims that COVID-19 emerged from the consumption of bats have long been slammed as misleading. The conspiracy theory appears to have been amplified by a 2016 video of a Chinese woman eating bat soup.
Despite the lack of evidence, some continued to blame Chinese people for the supposed diet, contributing to a surge in global anti-Asian sentiment. In Australia alone, 84.5% of Asian adults have experienced discrimination between January and October, according to a study by the Australian National University (ANU).
Jieh-Yung Lo, inaugural director of ANU’s Centre for Asian-Australian Leadership, who co-authored the study, said he was “disappointed” to see Marcus perpetuate the stigma.
“Our research show Asian-Australians have been impacted by the pandemic more so than the rest of the Australian population. Stunts like this have the potential to increase discrimination levels and cause further harm to Asian-Australians’ economic, social and mental wellbeing and undermine our place and contribution to Australia,” Lo told HuffPost Australia.
“Media and public figures need to refrain from using images and language that fuel racism and xenophobia because if they don’t, it gives others an excuse to further legitimise hate and division — as we have seen in this instance with fellow media personalities Melissa Hoyer and Jacinta Tynan’s responses to the image.”
One of Marcus’ posts also featured a child of a friend, who was also dressed as a bat, according to Pedestrian TV. Amid the backlash, the unidentified friend made their account private as well.
Feature Images via @carolinemarcus