Tuesday was a big day at Valparaiso University. Most importantly on that day, the northwest Indiana school announced that it now has a new mascot. After dropping “Crusader” earlier in the year, a name they had been using for decades, they unveiled their new mascot via Twitter, proclaiming, “We are the Beacons.” The new name makes sense, as it connects the mascot to the school’s motto, “In Thy Light We See Light.”
On the same day though, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita tried to steal that light with a sad display that serves as a head-shaking example of how he views the job he was elected to do. Rokita is ironically on a crusade of his own, filled with similar reasons why “Valpo” dropped the Crusader name in the first place: because it promoted “aggressive religious oppression and violence” and was associated with hate groups.
Attention Hoosiers, our AG has launched an investigation into the Confucius Institute at the university, alleging the relationship between the two is promoting communist propaganda in Indiana. And this investigation was initiated just two days after Rokita announced that he would stop the progression of his staff’s return to onsite operations due to an increase in “China virus” cases.
Hmm. The Indiana Attorney General has chosen, of all the things he might do to execute his still-new job, to attack and villainize China. Before the announcement about his staff’s return to the office last weekend, it had been a while since I had heard or read that ridiculous and offensive labeling of COVID-19.
My dad was an intelligent man, but he used to put an “r” in the word “wash,” and all seven of his kids made relentless fun of him every time he said it out loud. “Warsh” is still one of the funniest wrongs in all of English to me. And “China virus” is one of the most offensive. It was invented by a hateful person, and for a hateful reason. Thankfully, it’s use didn’t take root here. Nine months after that person was ousted from office, an Indiana politician is trying to revive the indignity for the most embarrassing and sycophantic reasons: to curry favor with the father of Trumpism.
I confess to often speaking in profane terms. It’s an easy confession for me, because I’m not really ashamed of it. But a conservative state senator once told me that people use foul language when they don’t have anything valuable to say. There’s plenty of truth in that. But even though my language might be profane, it’s purpose is not to offend or hurt anyone. Most would agree that the use of the term “China virus” was designed to blame a specific group of people for all that COVID-19 has cost us. And there is no question that Asian-Americans suffered as a direct result of its use.
Indiana’s Attorney General simply needs to quit using the term.
The Indianapolis Star reported that Rokita’s spokesperson commented: “Attorney General Rokita holds China responsible for unleashing a deadly virus upon the world and believes they should be held to account…(he) labeled this virus for its place of origin, not as a slight to the Asian community in the U.S. and around the world. Any allegation to the contrary is simply false.”
Sorry. That’s not good enough. Just like the investigation he launched at Valpo, the alleged threat of communism Rokita is attacking is not generic, it is specific to China. And in that regard, China is not a geographic region, it is a group of people. Trumpism requires there be a villain, someone that a grievance can be directed toward. That is why the coronavirus has been such a difficult problem for that crowd–it’s less rewarding to hate something inhuman. Why would the hateful bother hating something if it can’t hate them back?
The Confucius Institute is not a flawless organization, few are. But the stated reason for this so-called investigation did not include any evidence. Without that pesky lawyer stuff of which any attorney general should be particularly sensitive, this fiasco is reduced to nothing more than an announcement that Rokita is anti-China. Coupled with the virus comment from two days earlier, it seals the deal.
Mission accomplished, Todd. Only that’s not your fight, and not why you are paid.
It is obvious Rokita doesn’t have anything valuable to say right now, at least in the execution of his actual job. And the next time our attorney general uses such a slight, we should “warsh” his mouth out with soap.