Trump and other Republican lawmakers have persisted in using such phrases, saying many news outlets did the same in the early stages of the outbreak, despite subsequent guidance from the World Health Organization that viruses should not be named after locations to avoid stigmatization.
At a news conference Wednesday, Trump denied that such phrases were derogatory.
"It’s not racist at all, no," Trump said. "Not at all. It comes from China. That’s why. I want to be accurate.”
Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden rejected the president's explanation, telling him on Wednesday to stop "xenophobic fear-mongering."
Stop the xenophobic fear-mongering. Be honest. Take responsibility. Do your job. https://t.co/nQ5aLVrpyb
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 18, 2020
Fellow presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also said that Trump and his allies are stoking anti-Chinese bigotry in response to the pandemic.
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"We cannot tolerate this kind of racism — especially at this moment," Sanders wrote on Twitter. "This crisis requires our political leadership to unite our country, not divide us up."
Trump and his allies are stoking anti-Chinese bigotry in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
We cannot tolerate this kind of racism—especially at this moment.
This crisis requires our political leadership to unite our country, not divide us up. https://t.co/rgpx1epVLf
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 17, 2020
On March 17, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wrote on Twitter that "Bigotry against people of Asian descent is unacceptable, un-American, & harmful to our COVID-19 response efforts."
I've said it once & I'll say it again loud enough for the @WhiteHouse, @FoxNews, & everyone else to hear: coronavirus does not discriminate. Bigotry against people of Asian descent is unacceptable, un-American, & harmful to our COVID-19 response efforts.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 17, 2020
“This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” to my face,” CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang tweeted March 17. “Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back.”
This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” to my face. Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back.
— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) March 17, 2020
The Asian American Journalists Association tweeted its support of Jiang.
There has been a torrent of hurtful and racist remarks and actions targeted at Americans of Asian descent amid the coronavirus outbreak. AAJA denounces racism and xenophobia, and stands by our community and our members, including our very own @weijia. https://t.co/DTRshkr2tb
— aaja (@aaja) March 17, 2020
Other scholars, activists and local politicians have also voiced their support for the Asian American community.
Racism is petty. It seeks to cultivate bigotry and prejudice and exert power even in times when human beings most need each other.
This rhetoric isn’t harmless, especially with hate crimes against our Asian global family members already on the rise. https://t.co/eYzsWXRI5h
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) March 17, 2020
Coronavirus is NO excuse for racism.
This assault is disgusting & I am directing the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist in the investigation to make sure the assailant is held accountable.
NY stands with the Asian community. #NoHateInOurStatehttps://t.co/wJb2dj5MOS
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 11, 2020
It bears repeating: #COVID19 is NO excuse for racism.
This is a time for us to come together as one New Jersey family, not discriminate against our Asian American communities and businesses. https://t.co/zxG0mpYwqS
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) March 11, 2020
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Organized campaigns are also working to fight against coronavirus-related racism. The Asian American communications agency IW Group teamed up with "Mulan" actor Tzi Ma and Opening Ceremony founders Carol Lim and Humberto Leon to launch the #WashTheHate social media campaign. The campaign is meant to heighten awareness around racial insensitivity.
“We couldn't sit idly by knowing we had the resources and the opportunity to make a difference,” Telly Wong, IW Group Chief Content Officer, told NBC Asian America in an email.
As part of the campaign, "Wu Assassins" actress Celia Au tweeted a video of herself washing her hands according to CDC guidelines while speaking out against racism.
"Guys, during times like this, it's not a time to be a racist or discriminate," Au said. "Because guess what? The virus definitely doesn't."
There are serious concerns in the Asian American community about scapegoating and becoming the targets of misplaced fear and anger. Come join me and post a video to #WashTheHate. Let’s not discriminate and we can overcome Covid-19 together! 💪 pic.twitter.com/xk1WLezcBn
— Celia Au (@ItsCeliaAu) March 17, 2020