A sociology professor says “rampant ignorance” and misinformation about the novel coronavirus has led to racist and xenophobic attacks against Asian Americans.
“With news of the coronavirus, we’ve seen an uptick in fear of people who look like this,” said Rosalind Chou, a sociology professor at Georgia State University. “Real people are affected.” And the impact ranges from physical to verbal to financial, according to a report by CNN.
The Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, along with 258 other groups, urged lawmakers to address the “growing tide of racism directed at the Asian-American community” in a letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy earlier this month.
“We urge House and Senate leadership to take tangible steps to counter the hysteria around the novel coronavirus, such as passing a joint resolution denouncing the racism, xenophobia, and misinformation surrounding it,” the letter reads, according to a report by ABC News.
In early February, the New York Police Department posted a video online that showed an Asian woman at a subway station being assaulted by a stranger.
A witness, who did not want to be identified to protect her privacy, said she filmed the attack shortly after the man hit the woman on the head.
The witness said although the attack was a “terrifying” situation, “I believe that this incident has immense potential in opening up the discussion of Asian American-directed racial tension that has been caused by the” novel coronavirus.
Some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have sought to portray coronavirus as a foreign illness that is China’s fault. On Thursday, Trump called coronavirus a “Chinese Virus” in a tweet. In an Oval Office address last Wednesday announcing travel restrictions on Europe, Trump referred to coronavirus as a “foreign virus.”
CBS News White House Correspondent Weijia Jiang tweeted that a White House official called the novel coronavirus “Kung-Flu” to her face just yesterday.
The Southern Poverty Law Center which monitors hate groups in America found a 55% increase in white nationalist hate groups since 2017 with 940 hate groups being tracked across the U.S. in 2019.
The SPLC says it was the fourth straight year of hate group growth that roughly coincides with Trump’s campaign and presidency.
The group says “President Trump continued to fan the flames of white resentment over immigration and the country’s changing demographics.”
President Donald Trump has faced criticism for referring to the coronavirus as a “Chinese Virus” and “foreign virus.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged against using such phrasing or discriminating against Chinese people. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, earlier this month said it is “absolutely wrong and inappropriate” to call COVID-19 the “Chinese coronavirus.”
The CDC’s website states: “People in the U.S. may be worried or anxious about friends and relatives who are living in or visiting areas where COVID-19 is spreading. Some people are worried about the disease. Fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma, for example, toward Chinese or other Asian Americans or people who were in quarantine…Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger toward ordinary people instead of the disease that is causing the problem.”