Now that it’s clear that Donald Trump has totally bungled the federal government’s response to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the GOP is desperately scrambling to deflect blame. The president seems to have decided that the best way to distract from his myriad shortcomings is to deploy some of his trademark xenophobia. Pathetically, he’s trying to rebrand the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.”
I only signed the Defense Production Act to combat the Chinese Virus should we need to invoke it in a worst case scenario in the future. Hopefully there will be no need, but we are all in this TOGETHER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2020
While it’s true that the pandemic started in China and the Communist Party botched its response to the virus’s spread, it’s completely inaccurate to imply that this entire crisis is solely China’s fault. Trump deserves much of the blame. Not only did he fire the government’s pandemic response team, but he helped the coronavirus spread by downplaying concerns and calling it a “Democratic hoax.”
More importantly, Trump isn’t saying “Chinese virus” in an effort to be geographically precise. He’s tapping into the old “Yellow Peril” trope because he knows that a huge part of his base is constantly salivating for an excuse to be overtly racist.
As should be expected, the Republican Party is quickly falling in line behind their leader. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) has managed to set himself apart though by employing some of the vilest, most stereotypical rhetoric yet. Speaking to reporters today, he said that the virus is China’s fault because Chinese people “eat bats and snakes and dogs and things like that.”
Hypocritically, Cornyn’s own website showcases an article which speaks fondly of eating snakes. Apparently, such consumption is only acceptable when (presumably white) Texans do it.
As if the otherizing comments weren’t ignorant enough on their own, he went on to inaccurately claim that MERS and the Swine Flu originated in China when in fact the former was first discovered in Saudia Arabia and the latter in the United States. Of course, Cornyn is not one to let a simple thing like the truth get in the way of his racism.
There is no excuse for this kind of behavior and now more than ever we need our leaders uniting us, not sowing racial and national division. Remember this come November and hold the entire Republican Party responsible.
Sen. John Cornyn: "China is to blame because the culture where people eat bats & snakes & dogs & things like that, these viruses are transmitted from the animal to the people and that's why China has been the source of a lot of these viruses like SARS, like MERS, the Swine Flu." pic.twitter.com/N4TIlGFqAL
— The Hill (@thehill) March 18, 2020