GOP leader Kevin McCarthy's colleagues demand he apologize for racist coronavirus tweet

GOP leader Kevin McCarthy's colleagues demand he apologize for racist coronavirus tweet
MSNBC

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has so far resisted calls to apologize for a racist tweet that referred to COVID-19 as the "Chinese coronavirus."


Monday's tweet promoted a link about the virus from the Centers for Disease Control's website alongside this comment: "Everything you need to know about the Chinese coronavirus can be found on one, regularly-updated website."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., demanded an immediate apology from her colleague across the aisle.

"Bigoted statements which spread misinformation and blame Asians and the Asian American community for #coronavirus make us all less safe," Pelosi tweeted. "@GOPLeader must delete this tweet and apologize immediately."

Brittany Martinez, a spokesperson for the minority leader, suggested that his racist language somehow held China accountable for its handling of the outbreak.

"We must be honest with China's severe lack of transparency," Martinez told The San Francisco Chronicle.

But because COVID-19 is no longer confined to China, it is not inappropriate to refer to it as the "Chinese coronavirus," CDC director Robert Redfield told members of the House of Representatives during a Tuesday hearing.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif. — who chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus — said in a statement that "calling the 2019 novel coronavirus the 'Chinese' or 'Wuhan' coronavirus is as descriptive as calling it the 'CPAC coronavirus' — that is to say not descriptive at all. Worse, it's harmful.'' (Two members of Congress self-quarantined after being exposed to an individual with the virus at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.)

Former Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris went a step further than Pelosi, directly calling McCarthy's remark "dangerous."

"Calling it the 'Chinese coronavirus' isn't just racist," the senator from California tweeted. "It's dangerous and incites discrimination against Asian Americans and Asian immigrants."

Salon reached out to an Asian American advocacy group for further comment on McCarthy's quote.

"Kevin McCarthy's comment was racist," Margaret Fung, executive director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said Wednesday in an email. "The term 'Chinese coronavirus' is racist, because it blames China and the Chinese people for COVID-19, a disease that can affect all people regardless of their race. With rising fears and anxiety over the COVID-19 outbreak, it's inexcusable for GOP leader Kevin McCarthy to engage in racial labeling, instead of focusing on solutions to this public health crisis."

She added, "The stigma of coronavirus has resulted in hate violence against Asian Americans on sidewalks, subways, schools, and other public places. Chinese restaurants and other Asian businesses are losing customers due to fears of coronavirus. The incidents of anti-Asian racism since the Covid-19 outbreak are too numerous to list here."

The Sacramento Bee editorial board also condemned McCarthy's tweet, writing Tuesday that "comments such as McCarthy's can only help intensify the resurgence of xenophobia against Asians. In the wake of the coronavirus, Chinatowns have become ghost towns and Chinese restaurants – including many in Sacramento – have reported decreased business. That's because of attitudes like McCarthy's, which appear to wrongly conflate the virus' origin in Wuhan, China, with Chinese and Asian people in general."

Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, one of the members of Congress who self-quarantined after CPAC, is is also in hot water over a racist description of the virus. After referring to COVID-19 as the "Wuhan virus" in a Sunday tweet, MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes replied that his rhetoric was "astoundingly gross."

Gosar tweeted back: "Just astoundingly ignorant to have all major media refer to it as #WuhanVirus for months but somehow, today, you've decided that's #racist.  If you think this virus cares about your race you probably work for or watch MSNBC. Wuhan Virus. Wuhan Virus. Wuhan Virus."

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.