Throughout the entire coronavirus crisis, President Trump has recklessly stoked the flames of xenophobia and tried to blame China — and by extension, Chinese-Americans — for the pandemic.
Over and over again, he has not-so-subtly implied that China deliberately allowed the virus to spread and that Chinese travelers brought the virus to the United States, even going so far as to call it an “attack” in his desperate efforts to point the finger for the skyrocketing death toll at anyone and everyone but himself.
In doing so, he has fanned the flames of anti-Asian xenophobia and provoked a horrifying jump in anti-Asian-American racism, harassment, and attacks. Early in the crisis, America saw 650 attacks and harassment incidents in just one week. He has refused to acknowledge his role in provoking the outpouring of prejudice from an American populace seemingly chomping at the bit to engage in targeted racism, and now it appears he’s trying to pretend that Asian-Americans approve of his xenophobic narrative.
Taking to Twitter on Tuesday, Trump baselessly declared that “Asian-Americans” support his racist conspiracy theories about China and are “VERY” angry at what “China has done to our country.”
Asian Americans are VERY angry at what China has done to our Country, and the World. Chinese Americans are the most angry of all. I don’t blame them!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2020
Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY) responded to this outrageous and entirely contrived statement and made it clear that it was not China that Asian-Americans were mad at — it was Donald Trump himself, who had ended so many lives through his mismanagement and made the lives of the living so much worse with his racism.
We are very angry at you. You use racism to disguise your lack of responsiveness and responsibility. American lives of all backgrounds have been lost. Your words have led to increased discrimination against asian Americans which will outlast the coronavirus. https://t.co/6ndF5ErBiE
— Grace Meng (@Grace4NY) May 12, 2020
Since the crisis began, conspiracy theories have been rampant on right-wing social media and eventually trickled into mainstream discussion. Racist stereotypes about Chinese eating habits led to the “bat soup” meme, which posited that the consumption of exotic animals was responsible for the virus. The meme was based on mislocated videos from a travel blogger of restaurant patrons eating bat soup at the Seafood House in Palau, a Pacific island archipelago near the Phillippines.
The theories that the virus originated in a bioweapons facility in Wuhan province have been similarly debunked, but that hasn’t stopped right-wing media figures like Rush Limbaugh and even sitting United States Senators like Tom Cotton (R-AR) from promoting the idea.
Now the president himself is attempting to promote yet another false narrative as a way to pass off responsibility not only for the crisis but for the additional pain and suffering he’s inflicted on the Asian-American community.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.