Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s latest stunt — serving the Chinese Communist Party and other defendants in a lawsuit blaming China for the COVID-19 pandemic — is a sideshow, but it’s a dangerous one.
As international law experts have said, the lawsuit is not going to get very far.
But this is worse than a politically-motivated waste of time, as Schmitt makes a run for the U.S. Senate next year.
It’s worse because it puts real people, Asian Americans who are already in harm’s way as a result of just this kind of demagoguing, at even greater risk.
To stir hatred for political gain ought to be out of bounds.
But haters are going to have some solid options in the race to replace Roy Blunt. Schmitt’s competition so far includes two of his fellow Republicans, our disgraced former governor Eric Greitens, and as of Tuesday night, Mark McCloskey, whose sole claim to fame beyond suing lots of people for lots of things is that he ran out of his St. Louis mansion with his wife to wave guns at Black Lives Matter protesters last summer.
Schmitt has not yet served the Chinese government, which is a key defendant. He served the Chinese Communist Party, the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences via email.
In a statement Tuesday, Schmitt said he “filed this suit to hold the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese authorities accountable for their role in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken lives, ruined businesses, destroyed economies, and more.”
Of course, you could say the same for Donald Trump, who consistently underplayed COVID-19, said the virus would quickly disappear as if by magic, failed to protect the American public, suggested that masks weren’t manly, bungled testing and was vaccinated in secret, initially failing to urge supporters to follow his lead.
Schmitt’s suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, alleges Chinese authorities deceived the public, suppressed information and permitted millions of people to be exposed to the virus. Again, that sounds a lot like what former President Trump did.
Trump, Schmitt and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, who a year ago proposed an investigation into China’s responsibility for the coronavirus, all think it’s good politics to focus only on China’s mistakes, even though doing so continues to fuel physical attacks on Asian Americans. When will we see some accountability for that?