A family-owned auto shop in Fairfield, California has come under fire after using a controversial term for COVID-19 in a recent promo.
As its way of “spreading the love,” Moorhead Auto Center, located in 740 North Texas St., offered free smog checks to families “financially negatively affected by the China virus epidemic.”
“The Moorhead family has been blessed that our business has been able to continue to operate during the China virus pandemic,” the printed ad stated. “We know that this is not the same case for everyone and would like to spread the love.”
The term “China virus,” among a string of similar others, has long been discouraged by the World Health Organization as a reference to COVID-19 to “avoid stigmatization.” Nonetheless, many U.S. officials — headed by President Donald Trump — have continued using them, arguing that they are simply pointing back to the source of the disease.
However, a global surge of anti-Asian incidents leads critics back to the use of the terms. In late August, an ad titled “Words Matter,” produced by the Immigrants’ List Civic Action, called out Trump for his anti-Chinese rhetoric.
Moorhead Auto Center used the term “China virus” three times in its promo. Word about the ad reached Yelp, as well as the Solano County Community Awareness Facebook page, where users either supported the shop’s initiative or accused it of racism.
In an interview with ABC7 News, owner Jeff Moorhead defended his business against allegations, saying that he is “not racist” and that he is a “good Christian.”
“I never specifically said a word about any race whatsoever. That would be racist. I did indicate the area of the world that it came from, but no mention of race whatsoever,” Moorhead said, adding that he has “very close friends” from China and “they’re wonderful people.”
Moorhead went on to explain that he also used the term because several news organizations continue to use it. But after doing his own research, he arrived at the conclusion that the “more appropriate name would be COVID-19.”
Moorhead has removed the ad after the promo ended. He reiterated that it was never their intention to offend people.
“We’re a constant evolution to learning and making changes, the world is changing very fast and in my lifetime, I have found that things are changing so fast that even if we pay attention, people are on pins and needles right now with terms,” Moorhead told ABC7 News. “We have to watch out what we say or else we’ll offend somebody… we have to evolve and become better people.”
Moorhead continues to receive divided comments following the interview. Some brought up good actions he had done in the past, such as giving a car to an 80-year-old stabbing victim.
“Ridiculous that this man tried to do something good for people who are struggling and gets bashed. The world has gone crazy,” one Facebook user wrote.
Meanwhile, one Yelp user noted, “Accidental racism is still racism but there is nothing accidental about that sign especially after people have expressed that it was offensive to them. I urge Asians to patronize Asian-owned auto repair shops.”
Feature Image (Cropped) via Dion Lim