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Congress, BJP share tweet unity as US comedian Bill Maher slams China for ‘Wuhan virus’

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A screenshot from the video of US comedian Bill Maher | YouTube
A screenshot from the video of US comedian Bill Maher | YouTube


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H2: Congress, BJP find common cause in US comedian Bill Maher’s China takedown on coronavirus

H3: Congress, BJP find common cause as US comedian defends ‘Chinese virus’ jab for Covid-19

H4: Congress, BJP share moment of unity as Bill Maher tears down China on Covid-19

H5: Congress, BJP share tweet unity as US comedian Bill Maher lashes out at China for Covid-19

H6: Here’s what it takes to bring Congress-BJP together — a US comedian’s takedown of China

New Delhi: Famous US talkshow host, political commentator and satirist Bill Maher unconsciously kindled a moment of bipartisanship between the Congress and the BJP as he defended the description of coronavirus as “Chinese virus”.

Addressing a segment titled “Virus Shaming” on his show Real Time With Bill Maher, aired Friday, the 64-year-old said coronavirus wasn’t the first disease to be identified with its place of origin, citing Ebola (Ebola River), Zika (Zika forest) and the Spanish flu as examples. He then went on to question the “liberal” argument that referring to coronavirus as “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus” is racist. 

The argument found a fan in Congress leader Milind Deora, who retweeted the video with a pointed jab at “wokeness” — a term that describes one’s awareness about social justice, but which has come under criticism (including from Maher) for spawning too much political correctness.  

The tweet was immediately retweeted by BJP spokesperson Baijayant Panda, who said the video shared by Deora was “worth watching”.

Others who expressed support for Maher’s video included former foreign secretary Nirupama Rao.


Also Read: ‘Avoid Chinese people with a cough’ — Coronavirus fuels racism against Asians worldwide


‘Not about vilifying a culture’

The Maher video, which is just over 5 minutes long, had been watched over 4.6 million times by Sunday afternoon.

“Seriously, it scares me that there are people out there who would rather die from the virus than call it by the wrong name,” Maher says in the video. “This isn’t about vilifying a culture. This is about facts. It’s about life and death. We are barely four months into the pandemic and the wet markets in China, the ones where exotic animals are sold and consumed are already starting to reopen,” he adds.

Maher was referring to reports from earlier this month that the city of Wuhan, where coronavirus is believed to have originated, was limping back to normalcy along with its wet markets.

He then cites research to question the Chinese practice of eating bats, which are believed to be the reservoirs of several coronaviruses. 

“Eating bats is batshit crazy,” Maher says, adding that the world should blame China for coronavirus. 

“We should blame China. Not Chinese-Americans. But we can’t stop telling the truth because racists get the wrong idea. There are always going to be idiots out there who want to indulge their prejudices. But this is an emergency — don’t we have bigger tainted fish to fry?”

According to a report in The New York Post, this monologue by Maher has put him “in line with President Donald Trump and many of his conservative allies who have sought to play up China’s role in the Covid-19 pandemic”.  

US President Trump has referred to the novel coronavirus as “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus” many times. He has defended his statements, saying the virus “comes from China” and the description is “not racist at all.”    

However, he later said he would not use the term, adding that he had a “very good” relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trump is not alone. Calls have also emerged from the RSS affiliate Sadeshi Jagran Manch to officially rename Covid-19 as coronavirus.


Also Read: Coronavirus racism against NE Indians: How can govt prevent Sino-phobia from hurting our own?


Who is Bill Maher?

Maher is well-known for his sardonic style of political commentary, which often lands him in controversy. Last year, he said fat-shaming needed to make a “comeback” to help the US beat its obesity crisis.

In 2008, he co-wrote Religulous, a documentary that questioned controversial religious practices, including those from Islam and Christianity.

In 2002, his hit show Politically Incorrect was cancelled after he questioned the US’ reaction to 9/11. Arguing with the suggestion that the hijackers involved were cowards, he said the US had been “the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away”.

A self-proclaimed “apatheist”, Maher has also written many books, including When You Ride Alone You Ride with Bin Laden (2002), New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer (2005), and The New New Rules: A Funny Look at How Everybody but Me Has Their Head up Their Ass (2011).


Also Read: 67% Indians blame China for Covid-19, 50% say calling it ‘Chinese virus’ not racist: Survey


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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