by Noah Leininger
“Hoosiers can count on Curtis Hill standing strong to make Communist China pay,” reads a new mailer sent out by the campaign of the incumbent Indiana attorney general in advance of the state’s republican convention. Hill is running for reelection even though the state’s Supreme Court suspended his license to practice law for a month, effective May 18. The court’s decision, which came a week prior to the suspension date, was in response to allegations that he sexually assaulted four women at a party in downtown Indianapolis in 2018.
The mailer includes this quote, attributed to Hill: “We must investigate whether the communist Chinese government suppressed information about this deadly virus and whether the egregious harm this virus has caused could have been prevented.”
Days before the court suspended his license, as calls for Hill to step down intensified, he jumped on the anti-China bandwagon by joining 16 other attorneys general in calling on Congress to investigate “the communist Chinese Government and its role in the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In advance of the state’s June 18 Republican Convention, Hill doubled down with the anti-Chinese mailer sent to all registered Republicans in Indiana.
The attempt to pull attention away from his own predatory behavior and professional misconduct by focusing attention on “communist China” rests not only on an upside-down characterization of U.S. and Chinese responses to the pandemic, but also on a racist demonization campaign. As the people wage an impressive struggle against racist state violence, it’s imperative that we expose and denounce Hill’s propaganda.
China vs. the United States: Who suppressed information?
Ongoing investigations into the genome and spread of SARS coronavirus 2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have so far revealed that the virus was spreading in Europe in mid-November 2019, a month earlier than its identification and genetic sequencing by China in December 2019. China had already traced its earliest known infection to November 17, 2019.
If the virus was also spreading in Europe at the same time as the earliest known case in China, where is the outcry about European countries’ failure to detect the virus and warn the world? The allegation that China is responsible for the devastation around the world is ludicrous in the face of these revelations. The fact is that China was the first to detect the novel coronavirus and announce its danger to the world.
China sounded the alarm and took decisive action
China informed the World Health Organization of its discovery on December 31, 2019, after confirming the existence of the novel virus. Even so, China has been sharply criticized, including by The New York Times, which ran an article on February 1 with the subhead, “At critical turning points, Chinese authorities put secrecy and order ahead of openly confronting the growing crisis and risking public alarm or political embarrassment.
While the United States government did nothing for months, the Chinese government quickly mobilized and took drastic steps to preserve life and public well-being, locking down cities and provinces during one of the most important holidays and directing factories to convert their production lines to provide masks, ventilators, and other necessary equipment.
China’s actions were condemned as “authoritarian” and “tyrannical” by commentators across the political spectrum in the United States, where our own government’s inaction and inadequate response has led to an astonishing death toll that continues to rise. When the U.S. imposed lockdowns and implemented travel bans, of course, there were no such condemnations.
United States response marked by slow start, insufficient urgency
China is condemned both for putting “order ahead of openly confronting the growing crisis” and for going too far to stop the spread of the disease. This demonization campaign taps into both anti-communist and anti-Chinese fearmongering, peddling innuendo and shirking American responsibility for the crisis in our own country. China’s government cannot cancel rents and mortgages for people in the United States. China’s government cannot compel American businesses to provide paid sick leave. China’s government cannot guarantee shelter to all residents of the United States so that everyone has a safe and habitable place to quarantine.
U.S. federal, state, and local governments have the ability to take these necessary actions actions. Instead, they are compelling workers to return to unsafe conditions to restart the floundering economy at the expense of untold numbers of human lives. This refusal is not due to a lack of power, but a lack of political will. If Hill wants to hold people responsible for not preventing egregious harm as a result of COVID-19, he can start with his accomplices in the Indiana Statehouse.