President Donald Trump continued to use the controversial and racist term “Chinese Virus” on Thursday, in spite of calls from the Asian American community against him doing so.
One day prior, Trump tried to defend his use of the term “Chinese Virus” during a press conference by saying he was referring to the geographic location where the disease was first found, and nothing more.
“It’s not racist at all. It comes from China, that’s why” it’s okay to use, Trump said.
But it appears that Trump’s choice of words are more purposeful than originally believed.
Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford shared a tweet, in which an image displayed part of Trump’s prepared remarks for the Thursday press briefing. Within that image, the word “corona” was purposely struck out, and replaced with “Chinese” (followed by the word “Virus,” which was left alone) in what appears to be Trump’s handwriting.
Close up of President @realDonaldTrump notes is seen where he crossed out "Corona" and replaced it with "Chinese" Virus as he speaks with his coronavirus task force today at the White House. #trump #trumpnotes pic.twitter.com/kVw9yrPPeJ
— Jabin Botsford (@jabinbotsford) March 19, 2020
Trump has taken a lot of criticism for using the racist term in place of the actual name of the disease. It’s possible he’s doing so to shift “blame” for the disease to China, in an attempt to shift opinions domestically about his botched response to the disease’s spread in the U.S.
Civil rights attorney Elizabeth Ouyang, speaking in a Democracy Now! interview this week, explained why Trump’s use of the term is offensive and racist:
“There’s a big difference in saying that the virus originated in China versus calling it a ‘Chinese virus,'” Ouyang said. “By calling it a ‘Chinese virus,’ it is implying, for people who have limited interaction with persons of Asian descent and information about how this virus is spread, that it’s people who are Chinese, or they think are Chinese, who have this virus.”
That creates a “domino effect,” Ouyang added, where Asian Americans are ostracized or sometimes directly harassed.
She pointed to instances where there have been vandalism and racist graffiti, as well as assaults against Asian individuals across the country.
Ouyang’s beliefs are echoed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own recommendations against placing blame on Asian people or China for the virus.
“Fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma, for example, towards Chinese or other Asian Americans… Stigma is discrimination against an identifiable group of people, a place, or a nation. Stigma is associated with a lack of knowledge about how COVID-19 spreads,” the CDC writes.