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.
“Everything you need to know about the Chinese coronavirus can be found on one, regularly-updated website,”
in his tweet, which has now drawn more than 28,000 comments.
“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.”
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.”
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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.”
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,”
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.
“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