Wikipedia is debating whether to rename the Spanish Flu to the “1918 Influenza Pandemic,” a clear reaction to the Chinese Virus/Coronavirus argument.
President Trump has recently taken to referring to the coronavirus outbreak, also known as Covid-19, as the “Chinese Virus,” and has been accused of racism and xenophobia for doing so.
A common response to the leftists accusing him of bigotry is to point out that the Spanish Flu is the most common name for the flu outbreak that took place after the end of the First World War – so, of course, this is being retconned.
On the Talk page for the “Spanish Flu” Wikipedia article, there is a raging debate going on as to whether to rename the page to the “1918 Influenza Pandemic.”
Some commentors claimed that the name “Spanish Flu” is racist, just as “Chinese Flu” is racist, with others swearing that they definitely hadn’t referred to the pandemic as the “Spanish Flu” before, honest, and one who even claimed that it was a “right wing conspiracy theory” that people knew the name change was due to the coronavirus:
- “It is well established today that this flu was neither originated nor particularly spread in Spain. Furthermore, it is also well established that naming pandemias after regions is misleading (from a mechanistic point of view) and also stigmatizing. Why not having then the official name 1918 flu as the primary article name which other names redirect to?”
- “The other context I see is that the term ‘Spanish flu’ is a product of a historical and more prejudiced era trying to apply blame to a culture. The Spanish–American War was just before this and there was still American intent to blame Spanish for anything bad.”
- “1918-19 flu pandemic is a well-used and well-recognised term, very possibly the most-used and the most-recognised term. I suspect Spanish flu could actually be the less well-known name in the UK; maybe I’m an exception but I don’t think I heard the term ‘Spanish flu’ for a long time after I knew about the event.”
- “Not that it matters, but I actually knew this in passing as the 1918 pandemic; I only became aware that it was also called the Spanish flu recently (during the current COVID-19 pandemic).”
- “Support, for the same reason we should consider renaming towns/rivers with prejudicial names.”
- “It is simply irresponsible to call this the stigmatic name when alternatives exist and are overwhelmingly used by reliable sources. We should also include a ‘Right wing conspiracy theory’ section that addresses the debunked claim being repeated here that the name is only being changed because of COVID-19. I can find us some sources that identify the origin of this conspiracy theory as a bad faith attempt to mask the sinophobia of the Trump administration by comparing it to terms that have been defunct for decades.”
Many other Wikipedia editors knew exactly what was going on however, and fought back:
- “As Wikieditors are trying to literally change the history in this encyclopedia to prevent (or they hope to prevent) contemporaries from calling the current crisis the “Wuhan” or “China coronavirus” epidemic. An encyclopedia is no place for this retconning nonsense. Shame on you, and on what you’ve done in the coronavirus article.
- “I have heard this term a couple of times in my life, all of which were in the last week. Every other time this phenomenon has been referred to it is under the title ‘Spanish Flu.’ The concept that this terminology that dates to a century ago is somehow inadequate is a farce being pushed by people who are interested mostly in politics, not in medicine, history, or medical history.”
- “I’m sure you haven’t actually met someone who has a stigmatized view of Spanish people because a virus is colloquially named after it, as many viruses are.”
- “This would be a totally pointless move, the pandemic is widely known as the Spanish flu, the only reason this is being proposed is because of modern political controversies, which are totally irrelevant to Wikipedia.”
- “We wouldn’t be here if Wuhan coronavirus wasn’t in the title of the original name of the article everyone’s reading these days. Changing this article title at this time is dangerous to the entire Wikipedia project: how far will the newspeak project go?”
- “Why the sudden interest in moving this now? The only reason I can see for the timing is that it is support the Chinese Communist Party propaganda. The World Health Organisation went along with renaming the Wuhan Coronavirus COVID-19 because the People’s Republic of China is one of their major donors. Is wikipedia also bought and paid for?”
It’s not just Wikipedia that is guilty of this. Leftists and Democrats across the board are attempting to rename the Spanish Flu in a thinly veiled attack at President Trump.
A memo from the Joe Biden campaign referred to the Spanish Flu as “the 1918 flu pandemic,” a New York Times columnist said it wasn’t “fair or accurate to call the 1918 pandemic the Spanish Flu,” and a Washington Examiner reporter said calling it the Spanish Flu was “racist and foreshadowed American nativism,” to give just a few examples.
Biden team memo:
“We held elections during the Civil War, the 1918 flu pandemic, and World War II. We are confident that we can meet that same challenge today and continue to uphold the core functions and values of our democracy.” (2/)
— Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) March 17, 2020
It wasn't fair or accurate to call the 1918 pandemic the Spanish flu, but that's what it's now called (except in Spain, where it's "the 1918 flu pandemic"). But a deliberate effort to rename Covid-19 as the "Chinese virus" strikes me as an exercise in xenophobia and scapegoating. https://t.co/PDWgUE8NFX
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) March 17, 2020
"Nobody calls" it the "Spanish flu" anymore, says verified smart guy David Frum.
— Matt Wolking (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@MattWolking) March 17, 2020
You know in many ways, calling it the “Spanish flu” was racist and foreshadowed American nativism
— Joe Gabriel Simonson (@SaysSimonson) March 9, 2020
Kind quick reminder: viruses have no nationality.
— UNESCO (@UNESCO) March 17, 2020
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also said in a press conference on Tuesday that the coronavirus is “one part the Great Recession, one part the Great Depression, one part the 1918 flu epidemic.”
The memory-hole efforts by the left will likely only increase in the coming weeks.