The impact of the economic shutdown in the US caused by COVID-19 produced over 10 million American workers applying for unemployment benefits. Economic distress frequently leads some people to look for scapegoats to blame. So it is not surprising that in the last six weeks over a 1,000 Asian-Americans have reported being exposed to incidents of bigotry by being blamed for the Coronavirus pandemic. They were all victims of Coronavirus scapegoating, so are Muslims in India.
The worst case of scapegoating did not even involve Asians at all. A 36 year old man planning to attack a hospital treating coronavirus cases in the US state of Missouri died after a shootout with the FBI. Officials said the man was motivated by racist and anti-government beliefs.
He had considered a range of targets before settling on the hospital because of the current coronavirus outbreak. The FBI said that this man had previously considered attacking a school with a large number of black students, but the school was closed due to the spread of the coronavirus. He then focused on killing Muslims or Jews but, the mosques and synagogues were closed due to the spread of the coronavirus.
So he decided that since all these obstacles were caused by COVID-19 he would punish the virus carrying people in the hospital.
This man is a sad example of a hate-filled person who is a scapegoater because he has many groups that he hates, and no rational reason to hate them except the reasons in his twisted mind.
Two weeks before the Indian lockdown began, between 8 March and 10 March, members of the Muslim missionary organization Tablighi Jamaat gathered from across India and Southeast Asia in Delhi for a long-scheduled meeting. Hundreds of these missionaries, then left Delhi to visit villages and towns around India to preach, some of them carrying the coronavirus with them.
Now a slew of fake videos are being shared showing Muslims plotting to spread the coronavirus, including one video allegedly capturing Muslim men intentionally sneezing on others to infect them, and some Hindu nationalist politicians are beginning the public scapegoating Muslim plot process.
Scapegoating refers to the human tendency to blame someone else for one’s own economic, social or personal problems, a process that often comes from feelings of prejudice toward the group that one is blaming.
Scapegoating serves as an opportunity to publicly vent one’s own frustrations, rage and hate, while ignoring one’s own failures or misdeeds and maintaining one’s positive self-image.
It is important for all members of minority groups to realise for themselves and teach others that the victims of hate filled scapegoaters are completely innocent of all responsibility for the problems that the scapegoater has. Do not ever let children fall for the hate virus that claims the victims somehow brought this hatred upon themselves.
Seema Hinduja, a cyberbullying expert from Florida Atlantic University cautions that there will likely be an increase in cyberbullying and scapegoating among youth. “When smart phones and social media became ubiquitous for students, cyber-bullying rates went up. In the midst of major crises where everyone is already on edge, scapegoating hostility toward others tends to escalate. Some of it will be mild, and some of it will be severe.”
The Coronavirus pandemic may be novel, but Jews have had a long and tragic history of being accused of spreading deadly viruses. During the Black Death which started in 1348, hundreds of Jewish communities in Western Europe were attacked, despite the intervention of Pope Clement VI, who pointed out that Jews were dying from the plague just like everyone else. Needless to say, all that Jewish blood did nothing to stop the plague
As the plague swept across Europe, killing one third to one half the population, people had no scientific understanding of the disease and were looking for an explanation. Jews were often taken as scapegoats and accusations spread that Jews, in league with the Devil, had caused the disease by deliberately poisoning wells.
Nothing like this happened in the Arab or Muslim world although the bubonic plague swept through it as well.