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.
“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.”
Sen. John Cornyn: “China is to blame because the culture where people eat bats & snakes & dogs & 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.” pic.twitter.com/N4TIlGFqAL
— The Hill (@thehill) March 18, 2020
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.”
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) March 14, 2020
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 is from Saudi Arabia, the most recent swine flu is from Mexico, and right here in America we made measles cool again
Does Cornyn have undiagnosed Mad Cow disease https://t.co/XZcaXrICup
— Jeff Yang (@originalspin) March 18, 2020
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.
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.
— Texas Democrats (@texasdemocrats) March 19, 2020
oh my fcking god. AMERICANS EAT HORSE AND GATOR. FRENCH EAT FROGS.
Stop BLAMING THIS ON THE CHINESE TO DEFLECT ACCOUNTABILITY FOR YOUR OWN LACK OF LEADERSHIP AND OBVIOUS INCOMPETENCE AT LEADING US THROUGH A GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS YOU SIMPERING COWARDLY ASSKNUCKLES https://t.co/DQyQoUBaao
— Jenny Yang (@jennyyangtv) March 18, 2020
My wife is from Taiwan, so my kids are half-Chinese. Because of racist assholes like @JohnCornyn & @realDonaldTrump, their classmates are already blaming them for the virus & asking if they eat bats. My 9 year old son even came home & asked me if it was true. It’s heart-breaking.
— Cenk Uygur (@cenkuygur) March 18, 2020
Hey @JohnCornyn “This is Chinese culture and every disease comes from there.” is factually false and worse is a clear rallying call for idiots to go after people who look Asian. There are Asian kids out here just trying to live you reckless moron. https://t.co/0PBGC9XKLJ
— Ronny Chieng (@ronnychieng) March 18, 2020
Just so we’re all clear: In the middle of a global pandemic, a sitting senator is scapegoating an entire country and peddling racist lies that could very well lead to hate crimes.
Unseat John Cornyn in November. https://t.co/pw7A1ytQAX
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) March 18, 2020
John Cornyn is a racist piece of shit and this kind of scapegoating will lead to hate crimes https://t.co/JVHss2jMv4
— ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) March 18, 2020
This is funny because Cornyn’s home state of Texas is one of the few US places known for snake-eating and has the largest annual rattlesnake roundup in the world. The icing on top is that Cornyn’s own Senate website contains an article about this. pic.twitter.com/w5aMWaa5sG
— Sturgeon’s Law (@Sturgeons_Law) March 18, 2020