As President Trump stepped up to the podium in the White House to update the nation on the coronavirus outbreak, Washington Post reporter Jabin Botsford tweeted a photo of President Trump’s prepared notes on March 19.
The last-minute edit in a black marker stood out on the plastic sheet protector, clearly showing a strike mark on the word “Corona” and replaced with “Chinese.”
Close up of President @realDonaldTrump notes is seen where he crossed out "Corona" and replaced it with "Chinese" Virus as he speaks with his coronavirus task force today at the White House. #trump #trumpnotes pic.twitter.com/kVw9yrPPeJ
— Jabin Botsford (@jabinbotsford) March 19, 2020
The argument on President Trump’s word choice is more than just diplomacy and throwing shade at China. It is affecting the millions of Chinese Americans and Chinese students in the United States who have to face the consequences of the president’s words.
“It’s racist and it creates xenophobia,” Harvey Dong, a lecturer in Asian American and Asian diaspora studies at UC Berkeley told the Washington Post.
Before this pandemic reached western nations, racist acts and comments towards Asians already started to spread due to misinformation and the inappropriate choice of words.
In Australia, bystanders refused to perform CPR on a Chinese man due to coronavirus fears, the Daily Express reported.
In New York City, a man attacked a woman who was wearing a face mask in the subway even though she showed no coronavirus symptoms, according to NBC.
In Belgium, a group of students dressed up in stereotypical Chinese clothing and held a poster that read “Corona Time,” according to Canadian publication Global News.
These unacceptable behaviors are fueled by the leaders’ carelessness for the Asian American community.
Several conservative news outlets and republican senators have already started to use phrases like “Chinese Coronavirus” and “Wuhan coronavirus” even though the World Health Organization repeatedly warned people against using those sensitive terms.
With the president hopping on this train, he only gives credit to those highly biased media and confirms his supporters’ suspicions against Asians.
Many commentators pointed out that many people still use the term “Spanish flu” to describe the deadly influenza pandemic that started in 1918. However, there is no correlation between the two pandemics and it doesn’t excuse the president and others from using the term “Chinese virus.” The Spanish flu was the outcome of a common misunderstanding of the flu’s origin and it was not done purposefully, according to History.com.
As the world progresses towards a more inclusive place, it is important to have the leader of a country to lead the movement first. If not, racial slurs will continue to haunt minorities.
The beginning of racial discrimination against Asians in the United States goes back into the 1800s. The Chinese massacre of 1871 in Los Angeles resulted in 17 deaths — all of them were Chinese immigrants, according to the L.A. public library. The most notable acts that deeply divided Asia and the United States was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Immigration Act of 1924.
Those two laws excluded an entire race, and they will be one of the first but not the last law to do so. During WWII, the incarceration of about 120,000 Japanese Americans sparked global outrage, but this event left a dark mark on the relationship between Asian Americans and the U.S. government, according to History.com.
Even though these horrific measures that were put in place in order to bar Asians from setting foot on the American soil are all in the past, there is enough to haunt Asian Americans to this day.