A massive backlash against GOP Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Fox News host Tucker Carlson has broken out on Twitter after both men referred to COVID-19 as “Chinese coronavirus” in their individual tweets on Monday night.
The posts, which were only two hours apart, both urged the public to stay safe from the disease, which has now recorded 647 cases and 25 deaths in the U.S.
However, many questioned the rationale behind calling the disease “Chinese coronavirus” — especially since the World Health Organization (WHO) specifically renamed it to avoid reference to “a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people” last month.
McCarthy first tweeted on Monday with a link of information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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
“Everything you need to know about the Chinese coronavirus can be found on one, regularly-updated website,” wrote the 55-year-old Republican House Minority Leader.
As of this writing, McCarthy’s tweet has drawn nearly 19,000 comments, with many from outraged users including Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY 6th District) and Cool Quit CEO Dr. Eugene Gu.
Your words are so hurtful. We may be of different parties but people depend on all of us to be compassionate & effective leaders. Asian Americans – from kids to seniors are getting attacked bc of this exact type of rhetoric. Do better – please – i implore you. Lives are at stake.
— Grace Meng (@Grace4NY) March 10, 2020
Chinese people have already been portrayed as bat soup eating savages in countless memes. Now Republican lawmakers are making a concerted effort to label the coronavirus with an ethnicity and geographic origin, which the WHO specifically warned against when it named it Covid-19.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) March 10, 2020
Strange, the CDC website doesn’t mention the word “Chinese.” Can’t imagine where you picked that up from 🤔
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) March 10, 2020
It has a proper name, but you know “Chinese coronavirus” will appeal to the racist segment of your following, so you run with it. Classy.
— Dave Hogg (@stareagle) March 10, 2020
You know it’s fewer words if you just call it the Coronavirus.
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) March 10, 2020
FYI- diseases aren’t nationalities. They respect no borders. And calling it “Chinese” is idiotic and racist.
— Lori Coleman⛈ #DemCast (@DemocracyStorm) March 10, 2020
It’s not called the Chinese Coronavirus. It’s Coronavirus you racist turd.
— 🦄The Great & Powerful Oz🌈 (@OFemmeFataleZ) March 10, 2020
It has an official name – “COVID19”. By calling it “the Chinese Coronavirus” you come across as someone looking for a scapegoat, and perhaps displaying some xenophobia.
— Les N 🇨🇦 (@OneFrankDrebin) March 10, 2020
Item #1: It’s called COVID-19, not “Chinese” anything. But nice attempt to clean up the mess caused by Donald Trump, not by China, as the virus spreads in the US.
— miss speech (@miss_speech) March 10, 2020
“Chinese” versus “first detected in China”? Not good at reading comprehension, I see. pic.twitter.com/K8ZSNDZRGd
— Amica Ali 💙 (@AmicaAli) March 10, 2020
Less than two hours later, Carlson also used “Chinese coronavirus” in a tweet that linked to a segment of his show, in which he generously used the term and dismissed the idea of it being racist.
“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,” the Fox News host tweeted.
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
Carlson’s tweet has drawn more than 2,300 comments as of this writing.
Unsurprisingly, it attracted sentiments similar to those who slammed McCarthy.
When the coronavirus first emerged, many people including myself called it the Wuhan coronavirus to distinguish it from other coronaviruses. Then the WHO designated it COVID-19, and said it didn’t want to associate it with any geographic origin that could promote racism.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) March 10, 2020
“Chinese” Coronavirus? I don’t think viruses have nationalities. What is the purpose of adding this modifier?
— Barb McQuade (@BarbMcQuade) March 10, 2020
You’re a horrible person to use the term you used
— Greg Dworkin (@DemFromCT) March 10, 2020
Your propaganda could use a bit more subtlety.
— John Iadarola (@johniadarola) March 10, 2020
Its official called Covid-19. Should refrain from using terms that will discriminate against a people group.
— Christopher Yeo (@cyeogh) March 10, 2020
Support you sometimes but you’re out of line with “#ChineseCoronavirus,” Tucker.
Disease doesn’t have a race. It’s global.
It’s a man-made virus which kills no more than flu for those who are already immune compromised, or from hospitalization, exhaustion, “genetic factors,”etc
— Dr. Thomas Paul, Therapist #MindBody (@DrThomasPaul) March 10, 2020
Cut it out with the “Chinese” dog-wistle.
— KBHR Chris in the Morning (@jasfile) March 10, 2020
For once you provided an honest opinion about both sides. But it is not called the China Coronavirus. It’s never been called that. Stop gaslighting and call it by it’s name Covid-19.
— Josh Bishop (@joshb1020) March 10, 2020
— Fuad Ahmad, Esq. (@realFTAhmad) March 10, 2020
Just gotta get that racism in there don’t ya Tuck. It’s COVID-19 or Coronavirus. It’s killing and injuring people of all nationalities.
— Nasty D – Not A “Good German” Never Will Be (@DawnGulick) March 10, 2020
Both the WHO and the CDC have rejected the use of “Chinese coronavirus” in reference to COVID-19.
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
CDC Director Redfield is asked whether it’s wrong and inappropriate to call it the “Chinese coronavirus.”
Redfield: “Yes.” Again notes that spread is way worse outside China.
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) March 10, 2020