New Hampshire Senate candidate Don Bolduc will not stop fanning the flames of xenophobia despite the advice of health experts.
New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Don Bolduc is insisting on using a racist term for coronavirus, incorrectly calling it the "China Coronavirus."
"This isn't being racist at all," Bolduc said during a March 21 interview with WSMN 1590 radio host Dianna Ploss. "I'm not a racist person at all. I served 33 years in the military, an institution that was the first to desegregate of any in our society in 1948. So I really don’t want to hear any noise that gets thrown at me about being a racist because I call this the China coronavirus or the president does, or anybody else does, because it is, you know. And I'm not racist about it."
Bolduc was referring to numerous instances of Donald Trump using racist phrases to refer to the new coronavirus.
The Bolduc campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Health officials have warned against using terms like "China virus," "China coronavirus," and "Wuhan coronavirus," even if the virus was first reported in China.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that "stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate a disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease."
The agency added that eliminating stigma "is important to making communities and community members resilient."
The World Health Organization has also warned against using racist terms for diseases. What a virus is called "may seem like a trivial issue to some, but disease names really do matter to the people who are directly affected," Keiji Fukuda, then the organization's assistant director-general for health security, said in 2015.
"We've seen certain disease names provoke a backlash against members of particular religious or ethnic communities," he added.
Hate crimes against Asians in the United States have increased in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and some leaders in the Asian American community point to racist language like that used by Trump and Bolduc as contributing to the problem.
"There are at least 1,000 hate crimes incidents being reported against Asians due to the coronavirus in the last five weeks," Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, told MSNBC Tuesday "And now the hate incidents are coming in at about 100 per day."
Chu described a stabbing of a family of three, including two children, at a Sam's Club store in Texas by someone who said they wanted to kill Asians.
Chu said that the racist incidents are not helped when Trump and others use terms like "Chinese virus."
"Every time he says that, it just fans the flames of xenophobia," Chu added.
Despite the warnings from health officials and incidents of hate crimes, many Republicans continue to use racist terms.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy used the term "Chinese virus" in a March 10 tweet from his official account.
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), just one day later, posted on Facebook defending his use of racist language, claiming his critics should stop worrying about what he calls it. "This is NOT what we should be spending our time on," he wrote.
On March 25, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly refused to sign on to a G-7 statement about the global pandemic because other world leaders refused to agree with his demand to call the virus the "Wuhan virus."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.