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"Real Time" host Bill Maher slammed the "PC police" Friday night for overreacting to the "Chinese virus" labeling controversy.
As the coronavirus outbreak continued spreading across the U.S., President Trump and others sparked a national debate by referring to the disease as the "Chinese coronavirus" or the "Wuhan virus" because it began infecting people in Wuhan, China.
But critics of the labels called them "racist" and "xenophobic," insisting such terms would incite hate crimes against Asian-Americans.
Maher mocked the complainers, listing several other illnesses that are named after their locations of origin -- such as the West Nile virus, Spanish flu and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).
"You can't yell at someone for breaking a rule you just made up," he said, adding, "So why should China get a pass?"
The HBO star singled out Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., for condemning the term "Wuhan Virus" when he tweeted that the virus "is not constrained by country or race. Be just as stupid to call it the Milan Virus."
"No, that would be way stupider because it didn't come from Milan. And if it did, I guarantee we'd be calling it the Milan Virus," Maher reacted. "Jesus F---ing Christ, can't we even have a pandemic without getting offended?"
"Seriously, it scares me that there are people out there who would rather die from the virus than call it by the wrong name. This isn't about vilifying a culture, this is about facts. This is about life and death."
"There are people out there who would rather die from the virus than call it by the wrong name."
The "Real Time" host then blasted the "PC police" for saying it's "racist" to attack another nation's cultural practice, pointing to the wet markets that remain open in China.
"It's not racist to point out that eating bats is bats--- crazy," Maher exclaimed before citing experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci who have sounded the alarm on wet markets and the consumption of exotic animals.
"So when someone says, 'What if people hear Chinese Virus and blame China?' the answer is, 'We should blame China.' Not Chinese-Americans, but we can't stop telling the truth because racists get the wrong idea. There's 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?"
He continued, "Sorry Americans, we're going to have to ask you to keep two ideas in your head at the same time: This has nothing to do with Asian-Americans and it has everything to do with China. We can't afford the luxury anymore of non-judginess towards a country with habits that kill millions of people everywhere. Because this isn't the first time. SARS came from China. And the bird flu. And the Hong Kong flu. The Asian flu. Viruses come from China just like shortstops come from the Dominican Republic. If they were selling nuclear suitcases at these wet markets, would we be so non-judgmental?"
Maher observed that if the Chinese military had deliberately used the virus as a bioweapon against the U.S., "we'd be at war" and that the virus has had a bigger impact on the U.S. economy than China's alleged "currency manipulation" that politicians have complained about.
"This is a dictatorship that for decades enforced a one-child-per-family policy under penalty of forced sterilization, but you can't close down the Farmer's Market from Hell?" the "Real Time" host told viewers. "Maybe to use that iron fist and pound it down like the whole world depends on it because it kind of does. And I hope that if someone told Americans that eating Hot Pockets could cause a worldwide pandemic that we would have the good sense of stop doing it. Although I wouldn't bet on it."