A California newspaper is calling on a top congressional Republican to apologize for what it called “anti-Chinese racism” in tweets about the coronavirus.
The Sacramento Bee published an editorial on Monday calling on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to issue an apology for calling the virus the “Chinese coronavirus” in a tweet. The editorial noted that other conservative voices have gone out of their way to depict the virus “distinctly as Chinese.” It went on to say that McCarthy appears to be trying to give cover to the White House in its harsh policies regarding immigrants.
“The framing may reflect a desire to use the coronavirus as an excuse to justify President Donald Trump’s ongoing crackdown on immigrants from certain countries,” the editorial noted.
While some Fox News personalities and other Republicans have expressed similar sentiments connecting the coronavirus to China, McCarthy is unique among these voices in that he serves a key role in communicating the federal government’s response to the coronavirus. He has provided updates on the response from Congress, where Republicans and Democrats worked together to pass a package of emergency funding to help boost the response to the virus.
As NPR noted, Congress passed an $8.3 billion package that included money for treatment and prevention of the virus.
As the newspaper added, McCarthy’s characterizations of the coronavirus have already sparked a backlash among some of his colleagues. Grace Meng, a Democratic congresswoman of Chinese descent, wrote that she was “disgusted” at McCarthy and asked for an apology.
The Sacramento Bee also called on McCarthy to apologize, noting that anti-Chinese sentiments have a long and dark history in the state of California.
“Racist laws against the Chinese stayed on the books for decades. In 2009, the California State Legislature issued a formal apology for its decades of anti-Chinese racism. McCarthy, whose career started here in the State Capitol, is surely aware of California’s shameful legacy of anti-Chinese discrimination.”
Other Republicans have been criticized for the response to the virus, including accusations that Donald Trump downplayed the spread of the virus and contradicted his own medical experts. In Congress, Florida representative Matt Gaetz was criticized for wearing a gas mask on the floor of Congress in what was seen as mocking the response to the coronavirus. Gaetz later announced that he was undergoing a self-appointed quarantine after he attended a political conference where another attendee was diagnosed with the virus.