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Asian American lawmakers have urged fellow members of Congress to help combat the escalating amounts of racism linked to the spread of COVID-19.
In a letter issued on Wednesday, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), chaired by Rep. Judy Chu, asked the legislature to help them “prevent hysteria, ignorant attacks, and racist assaults that have been fueled by misinformation pertaining to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19),” through publication of accurate information.
The letter cited incidents in which Asian Americans were assaulted over fears of the virus.
Chu stressed that nobody should be vulnerable to any kind of attack due to fears of the outbreak.
“The members of Congress are the trusted sources out there,” the legislator told NBC News. “So if they say something about what the truth actually is, I think it has meaning. Also, of course, the members of Congress have a huge role to play in calming the public.”
During a public health crisis, like #coronavirus, it’s more important than ever that Members of Congress only share accurate info. That’s why today, we urged all our colleagues to stop the spread of conspiracy theories that create fear & incite violence. https://t.co/J9OrriR1Kq pic.twitter.com/uoB094ymDv
— CAPAC (@CAPAC) February 26, 2020
In a press conference on Friday, Rep. Grace Meng, whose district in Queens, New York is 40% Asian American, said that there are “restaurants that have already been shut down because of poor business,” according to USA Today.
Rita Pin Ahrens, executive director of OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, shared a similar observation, saying that their chapters have reported: “diminished patronage to Asian American-owned businesses, from restaurants to grocery stores, to nail salons and to other places and forcing owners into financial crisis and sending workers home.”
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Misinformation about #COVID-19 is spreading faster than the disease. Conspiracy theories, like that China created it in a lab, or untruths, like that Asians are more likely to carry or spread it, are dangerous and put #AsianAmericans at risk by stoking fears and inciting violence. We’ve already seen the impact across the country as Asians have been attacked or Chinese restaurants boycotted. That’s why today, we’re fighting back. First, I sent a letter to all Members of Congress urging them to only share confirmed and verifiable information. And in the Small Business Committee, I pressed the #SBA Administrator to take action to combat misinformation. #coronavirus
Last month, New York City Councilman Mark Treyger slammed such attacks after a man assaulted an Asian American woman in Chinatown and called her a “diseased b***h.”
Before dropping out of the Democratic presidential candidate race, Andrew Yang also condemned cases of racism tied to the outbreak, arguing that the best way to beat such a sentiment is to contain the disease itself.
Other instances of racism related to COVID-19 fears include a man doused with water in New York City, a woman verbally attacked in the Los Angeles subway and a child turned away from a sample stand at a Costco in Washington.
Such incidents are not limited to the U.S., however, as Asians in Canada, the U.K. and even above international waters — to name a few — have had similar experiences, resulting in a dedicated Wikipedia page.
Feature Image via Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus