What’s More Racist

I will never understand why “China developed COVID-19 in a lab” is any more racist than “Chinese people ate bats and infected half the planet.”

Conducting experiments in a lab is something everybody does. Eating bats… is not. Conducting experiments will never become a negative stereotype because it’s a highly valuable intellectual activity. Nobody is going to say, “gosh, those savages, with their labs and their science.”

The lab-made version might exaggerate the capacities of the Chinese government. But to be racist it needs to relate to ideas of racial superiority and inferiority. And what works better for a racist narrative, “Chinese have labs” or “Chinese eat bats”?

Obviously, I’m not saying it’s racist to observe that bats are eaten in China. But at least one could conceivably arrive at something racist if one went very far in this direction.

5 thoughts on “What’s More Racist”

  1. Have you seen the hubbub over Biden’s new China ad? It is, for the record, a great ad and not remotely racist (obviously.) It’s ridiculous considering his record on China, but very good.

    Also, this video is old but I hadn’t seen it before and maybe you haven’t either:


  2. “china developed COVID in the lab” is often interpreted as “China developed it with malicious intent / as biological weapon”.
    There is of course nothing racist about it, but it implies the degree if ill intent that China did not have to have.
    Every decent country has labs like that, because they need to develop safety measures in case of natural epidemics and enemy using biological weapons. Same goes for chemical weapons – a dozen countries have produced “Novichek”, for example. Including Iran, who openly admits it and nobody is trying to punish it. Because everybody understands that producing small amounts of shit in controlled manner is necessary part of preventative measures.


  3. This is not a fully developed thought, but I do wonder how much of the anti-racism narrative works precisely to maintain the coddling idea that western superiority is a natural, irreversible and irrevocable state that can at the very best have its rough edges softened or nullified ritualistically.

    Europe was a podunk corner of the earth for a very long time, America is just a couple centuries old, we’re all still relatively early into this thing and anything can happen.

    The forbidden thought there may be that graciously choosing to limit your power may not be a good enough stance going forward.


  4. The idea that speaking of race is equal to racism is nonsense. Trying to explain it to people is pointless. Imo the best thing to do is to just reject the idea and let them try to explain why things that aren’t racist are racist, so that they go crazy instead of you.


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