Republican Sen. Ben Sasse is coming under fire for an online commencement speech to local high school graduates in which he blamed "thugs in China" for allowing the coronavirus outbreak to take place.
The Nebraska senator was tapped to give an address to students at his alma mater, Freemont High School. In the speech, which was posted to YouTube, Sasse made reference to the unusual and difficult time the graduates were facing as they ended their high school years amid a global pandemic -- while placing blame squarely on China.
He noted that the graduates would meet one day at reunions and remember "that time when China started a big global pandemic that created the worst public health crisis in over a century and brought the economy to its knees and we had to stay at home and everybody was hoarding toilet paper and we all watched this documentary about some weirdo dude who raised tigers."Sasse tried to strike an uplifting note for the seniors, saying that they would pull together and make it through the difficult times -- and then deal with China, who he blamed for the outbreak.
"We will bring the economy back. We are going to beat the virus... We're going to have to have a serious reckoning with the thugs in China who let this mess spiral out of control by lying about it," he said.
Video of Sasse's speech attracted some viral interest online, with many criticizing the political jabs and what appeared to be some ill-timed jokes about the physical fitness of students.
Sasse's taking aim at China seemed to be in line with a number of other Republicans who have blamed the Chinese government for allegedly withholding critical information about the outbreak, wasting critical time and failing to alert the world. As The Inquisitr reported, a leaked memo written by top Republican strategists called on them not to spend time defending Donald Trump's response but instead attack China for allowing the outbreak to spread. The memo, credited to the political strategist firm O'Donnell & Associates, noted that China covered up evidence of the initial outbreak and then said Republicans should attempt to paint Democrats as being too soft on the Chinese government.
Other reports have backed the idea that China's government played a role in failing to address the outbreak, accusing its leadership of pressuring the World Health Organization not to release information and silencing doctors who tried to speak out in the earliest days of the outbreak.