World health authorities warned Tuesday that the coronavirus – first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan – was a “very grave threat” globally. The death toll from the coronavirus has topped 1,000 in China, with more than 42,600 people infected. And yet, Dutch DJ Lex Gaarthuis on Radio 10 in the Netherlands felt it was a good idea to create a song mocking the illness, and sparked a rage amongst the Chinese community.
The song was called “Prevention is Better Than Chinese” – using a play on the words for “Chinese” and “cure,” which sound similar in Dutch. The song, which he played on the Radio 10 station, also talks about “stinky-Chinese” and says “if you don’t eat Chinese (food), you have nothing to worry about, because prevention is better than Chinese,” the Dutch Broadcast Foundation reported.
In response to the song, a nationwide petition has already been signed more than 51,000 times, denouncing it as “discriminatory” and “inhuman in character.”
“Why are there people like Radio 10 who dare to connect a serious virus with people of Chinese origin and those who eat Chinese food?” asked the petition’s initiators. “You don’t joke about an illness, or a virus. Would you laugh if the song was about cancer?” they asked.
“Enough is enough. We’re confronted daily with so-called ‘jokes’ and statements that are not acceptable,” the organisers said, adding, “we are normal people.”
Garthius apologized on Saturday, admitting he had made “a big mistake” on his programme “Laat met Lex” (Late with Lex) on Monday. “I sincerely realize that I have offended people in the Chinese community, how painful my comments have been and that they may have viewed it as discriminatory,” the DJ said.
The DJ has since made his Instagram private, though his Twitter remains open.