Jun 25, 2020, 08:26
|(People's Daily Online) U.S. President Donald Trump keeps using the term “Kung Flu” and the internet is fuming. Most recently, at his “Students for Trump” convention in a church in Phoenix, Arizona, Trump took a moment to run through a list of names for a virus that has killed over 120,000 Americans and in the words of Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “brought this nation to its knees.”
Declaring that there has never been anything with so many names, Trump said, “Wuhan – Wuhan was catching on. Coronavirus, right?” He then said, “Kung Flu, yeah?” at which point the crowd of roughly 3,000 young supporters who filled the megachurch burst out in cheers and applause. Trump then repeated the term to egg on the disturbing moment.
His use of the offensive term comes on the heels of his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Trump also used it to describe coronavirus, resulting in a firestorm of criticism online. Chris Lu, former deputy secretary of labor in the Obama administration, responded by saying it is painful to think of all the Asian-American kids who will be taunted. “If you have kids, please watch this video and tell them this isn’t okay,” he pleaded.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang also took to social media to express his disgust, calling Trump’s use of the offensive term to describe coronavirus as “stupid” and “racist.” A fan page of Yang responded to his comment by saying that Trump knows his words hurt and he uses this language to amplify hatred and division.
Many people agree that the term “Kung Flu” is highly offensive and they have called on Trump to stop with the racist language. Even White House aide Kellyanne Conway has publicly condemned the term, mentioning that her family has Asian heritage.
However, what made the scene in Phoenix even more disturbing is that a church full of supporters cheered the racist rhetoric. Some Twitter users compared it to a televised Klan rally and one user wrote, “[Trump] took off his hood today.” To make matters worse, this happened on a day when Asian-Americans remembered Chinese-American Vincent Chin, who was beaten to death by two white autoworkers who mistook him for being Japanese and accused him of stealing their jobs in Detroit, Michigan, in 1982.
Hate has been on the rise in America in recent years and studies have shown a clear correlation between Trump-related rhetoric and reports of hate. It is evidence that Trump’s harmful rhetoric can have harmful consequences in the real world, especially in the middle of a global pandemic that has taken a heavy toll on America.
It is reckless for someone at the highest level of government to fuel fear and hate by using terms that tie certain groups to diseases. Some might see Trump’s use of the term “Kung Flu” or other related terms as a harmless or amusing way to take a jab at China or connect with his core, but the scapegoating and scaremongering is fueling fear and hate, leading to increased incidents of racist threats and attacks against Asian people in America and around the world.
We should beware of the “pandemic of hate” that is making the coronavirus pandemic even more dangerous and deadly. Trump’s use of racialized language for the pandemic—and at a time of racial turmoil in the America—is not harmless fun or something to joke about.