Russ Kent opinion column: Why must we always need a villain?


As a frequent user of social media I have learned three things.

  • Don’t believe everything you read or see.
  • Be skeptical about everything. If you have doubts, delete it. Do not re-post. Do not share.
  • Good or bad, social media is a great way to judge the mood of a nation

And right now, our mood is pretty sour.

We’re angry about losing jobs, being unable to pay bills, about high school seniors not having traditional proms or graduations, of not having movies to see or bars to drink in or restaurants to dine in.

And when we’re angry, we need someone to blame.

That need often brings out the worst in people.

In recent weeks, many Americans — intentional or not — are showing their racism.

It’s loud. It’s in your face. It’s everywhere on social media.

Don’t but anything produced or made or grown in China. Don’t shop at American stores or American companies that sell products made in China. Don’t buy anything from companies with ties to China.

That’s racism.

It is disguised as patriotism, but it is racism, nonetheless.

There are a lot of definitions of racism in dictionaries and on websites.

Here is one.

Racism —- prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group.

That is what we are doing to Chnia

It’s sad how many racist comments I hide from my social media news feeds each day.

I am on Facebook a lot … too much in fact. One day in the not-so-distant future, I will no longer be a member of the media. My job will be eliminated. If not, I will retire in a few years.

On that day, I will get back to using social media as I believe it should be used, to share good news and bad news with family and loved ones; to keep in touch with old friends; and to make new friends.

That’s not how social media is used by most. It is used to spread opinions in an effort to influence others. It is full of half-truths out-right lies, conspiracy theories and racism.

Racism is not new for angry Americans.

After World War I, many American communities — including Galion — put Germans on their do-not-trust list. Thousands of street names and neighborhoods were changed from their original German names to something do-gooders determined was less offensive.

During and After World War II, those anti-German beliefs reappeared. Plus, America added the Japanese to our crap list. Thousands of Japanese-Americans were locked away in detention camps.

During the Vietnam War, southeast Asians were villified by many in America.

After Sept. 11, 2001, Americans took out their anger at extremist Islamists on American Muslims. Anyone who looked or sounded or had a name that was Arabic became a target of American hatred.

And now?

We’ve put the Chinese atop our target list.

On social media, our hatred of anything Chinese is not-so-cleverly disguised as patriotism.

Internet posts urge Americans not to eat at Chinese restaurants, not to purchase shoes or clothing made in China, not to go to Starbuck’s. Don’t buy cell-phones or TVs or computers made in China … or tennis shoes.

These posts are based on the fact that COVID-19 originated in the Wuhan Province, in China.

More than a billion people live in China. More than 99 percent of those people had nothing to do with COVID-19. They work for a living, they live under a repressed regime, they are trying to support families. Many support their families by producing items bought by Americans.

Those Chinese workers had nothing to do with “creating” this coronavirus. That 99 percent of the Chinese population didn’t conspire to convince the World Health Organization that COVID-19 was less harmful that it turned out.

Likewise, Chinese Americans living and making a living and raising families in America had nothing to do with creating or transmitting COVID-19 to Americans.

Boycotting items made or grown or manufactured or sewn or put-together in China won’t harm those who helped to create the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those folks are pretty much untouchable

But those boycotts do hurt everyone else.

Also, millions in America have jobs that depend on us buying produce, clothing, purses, computers, toys and TVs made in China. They work at Walmart and Sam’s Club and Target and Petland and Dick’s Sporting Goods and Meijer and Kroger and Big Lots and Costco and car dealerships and appliance stores and Verizon and Apple stores.

It’s not possible to target one portion of a global economy without hurting all parts of that economy.

Our false sense of patriotism harms Americans as much as it hurts anyone in China.

It’s also morally offensive.

Each time I see one of those posts on social media my blood pressure rises. I want to vent.

But then I realize most who share or re-post are angry and they think they are being patriotic.

They are not, they are being racist.

Anger is not an excuse for racism.

And racism, disguised as American patriotism, is racist.

Russ Kent

Galion Inquirer

Email Russ Kent at

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