Texas Senator Claims Chinese People Eat Bats, Fueling Ignorance and Racism

A Republican senator has sparked outrage on social media after blaming China for the coronavirus pandemic, joining fellow party members such as President Donald Trump who are still under fire for perpetuating such rhetoric.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn, who has been representing Texas since 2002, attributed the spread of COVID-19 to Chinese culture, which, according to him, has people eating bats and other animals that supposedly transfer viruses.

U.S. Senator for Texas John Cornyn. Image via United States Senate Photography Office

“I think China is to blame,” Cornyn told The Hill in a statement on Wednesday, “because [it’s] the culture where people eat bats and snakes and dogs and 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 and now the coronavirus.”

For this reason, the 68-year-old argued that China has “a fundamental problem,” adding that he does not object to “geographically identifying where it’s coming from.”

Cornyn’s statement came just after Trump defended his use of the term “Chinese virus,” despite the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explicitly stating that it is inappropriate. The president also refuses to believe that Asian Americans will be affected by its use, since the novel coronavirus has a specific origin.

“No, not at all,” said Trump, according to Politico. “I think they’d [Asian Americans] probably would agree with it 100%. It comes from China. There’s nothing not to agree on.”


Cornyn shared Trump’s sentiments.

“I disagree,” he said of the term being racist. “We’re not talking about Asians. We’re talking about China where these viruses emanate from and which has created this pandemic.”

While severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) — the pathogen responsible for COVID-19 — originated from China, Cornyn was incorrect about the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the swine flu.

MERS, which was first reported in 2012, was originally detected in Saudi Arabia, while the swine flu, which was first confirmed in 2009, emerged from a very small region in central Mexico.

Cornyn’s statement immediately sparked vitriol on social media, with people slamming him as downright “racist” and “xenophobic.”

“John Cornyn’s comments are disgusting, dangerous, and racist. Asian Americans have already been the victims of hate crimes because of Trump and the Republican Party’s racism. We will vote Cornyn out in November,” the Texas Democratic Party, for one, wrote in a tweet.

Feature Images via United States Senate (left) and The Hill (screenshot; right)

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