What’s So Bad About Kung Flu?


When I was a kid growing up in New York City, my corner neighborhood had three stores. One store was the candy store, which is where the men stopped off in the morning on their way to work, bought their newspaper, their cigarettes and played the number with the leftover change. Down the block on one side of the street was a pizza and on the other side of the street was a Chinks.

The pizza and the Chinks were take-out joints. They got busy before dinner-time on Friday nights. My neighborhood was mostly Italian and Irish, Cardinal Spellman was a lot more important than the Mayor, the President, or the Pope. Friday was take-out day from the pizza or the Chinks because every week Father Gordon, who ran the local parish, read a letter from Cardinal Spellman reminding everyone that on Fridays it was forbidden to eat meat.

So on Fridays you had a choice. You could either bring home a pizza pie with extra cheese, or you could walk across the street and pick up Chow Mein with fried rice, which we always called ‘flied lice.’ Of course we never pronounced it that way to the Asian couple that ran the Chinks. We knew enough about racial and ethnic stereotypes to keep those words to ourselves.

It was the same way with the n-word. You never said that word out loud if there was the slightest chance that a person of color might overhear. Not that there was much chance of that actually happening, because my neighborhood, like almost all New York City working-class neighborhoods, was completely White. We never saw an African-American person in our neighborhood except when a city garbage-truck rolled by – the Department of Sanitation was integrated long before any other city agency and the Commissioner of Sanitation was Black. As for Asians, we had no idea where the family lived that ran the Chinks. They showed up early in the morning, the left late at night, we had no idea where they lived at all.

Housing patterns for Blacks and Hispanics are still largely segregated, but Asians are increasingly buying up residential properties not just in states where they have traditionally lived, like California and New York, but as well in states like Texas, Georgia and Florida. There seems to be absolutely no concern on the part of this residential population that the trade war between the U.S. and China will have any effect on their lifestyles at all.

But that was before Donald Trump got up in front of  largely-empty indoor stadium in Tulsa and knew he needed to say something that would excite the crowd. So he began patting himself on the back by saying that “we have conducted more tests than anyone else,” even though a test kit promoted by the White House has been found to give false results.

Once Trump got finished with that nonsense, he then reminded the crowd that the liberals, the scientists, the physicians, in other words, all his enemies, were going out of their way to duck the fact that the virus came from China, which is why they were calling it by names like Covid-19. So to set the record straight, this is when the President referred to a pathogen which has now killed more than 120,000 Americans as the ‘Kung Flu.’ Did that line get a reaction from the crowd?  Of course it did.

The term kung fu refers to a variety of martial art techniques which first appeared in China around 200 B.C. Unfortunately, the guy who popularized kung fu in the United States, Bruce Lee, died just before his first American movie was released in 1973. His movies were big hits, and these action-type flics revived the careers of Hollywood has-beens like David Carradine over here.

The term kung fu also means, and here I’ll quote the Encyclopedia Britannica, “careful preparation for the performance of any skillful endeavor without interference from the intellect or emotions.” That description will never fit Donald Trump.





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