Kalypso Nicolaïdis in Open Democracy:
We know that human societies require scapegoats to blame for the calamities that befall them. Scapegoats are made responsible not only for the wrong-doing of others but for the wrongs that could not possibly be attributed to any other.
Unsurprisingly, the Trumps, Bolsonaros or Orbans of this world and their followers have failed to resist the urge to find one, even in this war without a human enemy in Angela Merkel’s early words. The virus was bred by “a culture where people eat bats and snakes and dogs and things like that,” as Republican senator Cornyn elegantly explained at the outset. So Chinese (looking) persons anywhere are becoming the unfortunate targets of people’s prejudices. On alternate days, Trump preferred to designate Europeans the enemy or the World Health Organisation, while Orban blamed Iranian students, and Chinese officials stigmatize US army athletes who attended the 7th military world games in Wuhan in October 2019. Meanwhile, a senior Romanian priest compared fearing the killer virus to fearing Jews (who else!) in his Easter greetings.
But it is not just the usual suspects who point the finger. Already, foreigners in our midst and refugees at our doors have been anointed spreaders, including some foreign doctors in conflict zones. In India this is a ‘Muslim disease,’ while in other parts of the world some speak of a ‘white people disease.’ You can hear the breaking news around the world: Government steps up preparations by stockpiling people to blame, starting with their own civil servants.