As the number of new novel coronavirus cases rises and the death toll climbs, the range of attacks toward Asians around the world continues to grow as well.
In addition to the racist encounters Asians find themselves in since news of the outbreak spread, media platforms have been recently spewing tasteless content that further fuel prejudice against Asians, particularly against the Chinese community.
The latest affront to Asians comes in the form of a so-called “satire” piece from Hamburg-based, German-language news site Spiegel Online.
In the post titled “Coronavirus: Was Sie jetzt tun können müssen” (Corona Virus: What you need to do now), author Stefan Kuzmany poked fun at the deadly virus that has so far infected over 24,000 people and claimed the lives of nearly 500 patients.
Parts of the content had Kuzmany ridiculing people’s reaction to the pandemic, advising readers to have “the broadest virus knowledge” and “create a connection” no matter how remotely, so they can include themselves in the conversation.
A section of the post, titled “a little racism is fine,” encourages readers to show their resentment toward the “strange Chinese” people. Kuzmany further encouraged hatred of “yellow-skinned slit eyes” for causing an outbreak that would eventually kill them.
“Why do they always have to eat bat soup and bite snakes off their heads and bathe in fresh rat blood at their markets? Nobody should be surprised if they get sick,” he wrote in German.
To “be on the safe side,” he advised everyone to avoid all contact to anyone who “looks remotely Asian” since “all Asians look the same anyway.”
He also noted that it’s better to avoid Asians regardless of whether the person is from any of the risk areas or has never been there at all.
The article tried in some parts to make jokes by connecting the coronavirus to Corona beer and by making light of getting infected.
Kuzmany has since apologized following some backlash.
Meine satirische Kolumne zum Umgang mit dem Corona-Virus lasen einige Leserinnen und Leser als Rechtfertigung für Rassismus. Das bedauere ich. Ziel der Kolumne war im Gegenteil, rassistische Klischees mit dem Stilmittel der satirischen Überhöhung zu entlarven und zu kritisieren.
— Stefan Kuzmany (@kuzy) February 5, 2020
Translated into English, his tweet read: “Some readers read my satirical column on dealing with the corona virus as a justification for racism. I regret that. On the contrary, the aim of the column was to expose and criticize racist clichés using the stylistic means of satirical exaggeration.”
Some readers criticized Kuzmany for perpetuating Asian stereotypes.
die ironie ihrer kolumne habe ich auch, wie viele andere, als unmissverständlich empfunden. dennoch finde ich ihren artikel und auch die rassistischen stereotypen (wenn auch satirisch porträtiert) gerade in dieser sehr kritischen zeit höchst unangemessen.
— cat (pinned!) (@PLOTTWlSTS) February 5, 2020
“Like many others, I found the irony of your column unmistakable. nevertheless, I find your article and the racist stereotypes (albeit satirically portrayed) highly inappropriate especially in this very critical time,” one reader wrote in German.
It is fine to exaggerate how stupid people over-react to the situation and make jokes about them. The problem is that you used offensive stereotype words to describe the people who are suffering at this moment and this can hardly be interpreted as satire.
— Lin Wang (@imlinwang) February 5, 2020
Since Spiegel Online is among the most widely read news site in Germany, he has potentially placed the millions of Asians in Germany at risk of humiliation, harassment and a range of attacks from similar-minded individuals.
Feature Image via DER SPIEGEL