Are large, continental dirt masses capable of having feelings? One sensitive scientist is there to help in case they do.
CBS News noted that a large, new immigrant insect was discovered and has been called “Asian giant Hornet” (or “Asian murder Hornet”) by some.
However, the misuse of this designation has gone south
Officials from Washington’s Department of Agriculture announced Monday that the Entomological Society of America has adopted the “northern huge hornet”, for Vespa Mandarinia, in its Common Names of Insects and Related Organisms List.
Dr. Chris Looney proposes to the world why the old moniker should be thrown out.
Although there is no common name for the species, it does have the name “Asian giant Hornet” which appears in media, agency outreach materials, and scientific literature. Although federal and state agencies do not use this name, the media often uses “Murder-Hornet” as a name. These names can be problematic and could hinder accurate and effective communication.
It all goes back to COVID — as well as racism.
Geopolitical tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic have led to an increase in hate crimes and other degrading behavior towards people of Asian descent across the globe. While the term “Asian” is not meant to be derogatory and it is accurate geographically, its association with an insect that incites fear and is currently under elimination may encourage anti-Asian sentiment. In fact, I have heard many times statements such as “another damn thing coming from China” (despite the fact that the hornets found in North America are likely to be from Japan or Korea). Although people may not express negative feelings towards the insect or their Asian neighbors or colleagues, some people will implicitly place the “Asian” descriptor in the common name above other more important biological characteristics. It’s a neutral, uninformative adjective that can distract from the more important characters of the organism. At worst, it could be a racist trope.
You can say no to alienation
If you insist on including “Asian” in the common name, you risk alienating certain community members and deterring participation in a vibrant community science program.
It’s okay to insult or exile Washingtonians, otherwise known as northerners.
It wasn’t considered that physical parts were sensitive in the past. However, pointing out where something originated or lived was acceptable.
Dr. Looney seems to have placed the emotions of dirt above those of living creatures. Perhaps Asia’s soil feels better knowing that a bug has no name. But what about the feelings of the hornet? It has lost its identity because of science. A person can be an American, but an insect cannot be an Asian hornet. This is sometimes called speciesism.
We hope that waking up will solve this problem soon.