After getting slammed as “racist” in a massive Twitter backlash, GOP House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy defended his use of the term “Chinese coronavirus,” arguing that Democrats and the media have used it first.
The congressman first used the term Monday in a tweet that linked to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) page containing information about COVID-19, the official name of the disease.
“Asian Americans — from kids to seniors are getting attacked because of this exact type of rhetoric,” Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY 6th District) commented. “Do better — please — I implore you. Lives are at stake.”
Everything you need to know about the Chinese coronavirus can be found on one, regularly-updated website: https://t.co/nGCCDVqcqe
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) March 9, 2020
In a response Tuesday evening, McCarthy maintained that coronavirus is a “China-born disease,” which was “made worse by a Communist Party that rejected America’s help to contain it.”
The Republican Leader also included screenshots of headlines from CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post — as well as the U.S. House of Representatives itself — that used the term “Chinese” or “Wuhan coronavirus” to show that he is not alone.
Here we go again.→ Democrats are trying to score political points by calling Republicans racist.
Coronavirus is a China-born disease—made worse by a Communist Party that rejected America’s help to contain it.
Which is why Dems & media called it “Chinese coronavirus” for weeks. pic.twitter.com/Km1rdn1R47
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) March 11, 2020
McCarthy, however, was not solely responsible for making “Chinese coronavirus” trend on Monday. Less than two hours after his tweet, Fox News host Tucker Carlson used the same term, even denying that it is racist in his show linked in his post.
President Donald Trump has also referred to the disease as “China Virus.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has used “Wuhan Virus,” while Daily Wire host Andrew Klavan has suggested calling the disease “yellow peril.”
We must remain calm but not complacent about the Chinese Coronavirus. We addressed it on tonight’s show. We hope you’ll watch if you missed it.https://t.co/elhyObX1oV
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) March 10, 2020
Earlier on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged McCarthy to delete his original tweet and apologize. However, it clearly did not happen.
“Bigoted statements which spread misinformation and blame Asians and the Asian American community for #coronavirus make us all less safe. @GOPLeader must delete this tweet and apologize immediately,” Pelosi tweeted.
Bigoted statements which spread misinformation and blame Asians and the Asian American community for #coronavirus make us all less safe. @GOPLeader must delete this tweet and apologize immediately. pic.twitter.com/twzCcVAWDH
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 10, 2020
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the coronavirus disease is officially called COVID-19, while the pathogen causing it is known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which was previously termed 2019 novel coronavirus.
McCarthy’s choice to continue using “Chinese coronavirus” comes amid the WHO and the CDC’s calls to drop the term.
DO – talk about the new #coronavirus disease (#COVID19)
DON’T – attach locations or ethnicity to the disease, this is not a “Wuhan Virus”, “Chinese Virus” or “Asian Virus”.
The official name for the disease was deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatizationhttps://t.co/yShiCMfYF3 pic.twitter.com/belHrq5HVo
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 2, 2020
“Don’t attach locations or ethnicity to the disease, this is not a ‘Wuhan Virus,’ ‘Chinese Virus’ or ‘Asian Virus,'” the WHO tweeted earlier this month. “The official name for the disease was deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatization.”
On the other hand, when asked whether it is “absolutely wrong” and “inappropriate” to call the disease “Chinese coronavirus,” CDC Director Robert Redfield replied “yes,” according to The Hill.