Experts have warned against using regionally specific terminology to refer to the coronavirus as Gaetz did over the weekend, as it often incites racism and xenophobia.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) alleged over the weekend that local municipalities were using "Chinese drones" to "spy on people in their own backyards" in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gaetz claimed the warning was a "wake-up call" regarding the United States' relationship with China, repeatedly referring to the coronavirus in racist terms.
Experts, including those from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), have warned against using regionally specific terminology when naming or discussing the virus. The xenophobic language has been traced to attacks and slurs directed against Asian Americans and other ethnic groups.
Gaetz also promoted video of his remarks — which he made during Saturday's edition of "Huckabee," a show hosted by former Republican Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on the conservative Christian Trinity Broadcasting Network — on his official YouTube channel in a video labeled "Chinese Drones Impair our Liberty."
From the April 25 edition of "Huckabee":
MATT GAETZ: Obviously, no one in our country expected to be dealing with a crazy Chinese bat virus at this point in time, but in the wake of that experience we have to have the spirit of a great American renewal.
We have to understand that Americans have to be able to go outside again and interact with one another at safe distances, with exquisite hygiene, but that we cannot fundamentally change American life and my concern, governor, is that particularly at the local government level, we're starting to see some real infringements on people's liberties.
Whether it's telling folks that they can't hang out in their own backyard, or, even in some cases, municipalities have used Chinese drones and video surveillance to spy on people in their own backyards... or how about in New York City where the government was actually setting up snitch lines for neighbors to rat out other neighbors?
I am so grateful that we have an attorney general like Bill Barr who wants to vindicate the rights and liberties of Americans.
MIKE HUCKABEE, host: There are some legitimate concerns about not only government overreach, but if we're using Chinese drones don't we have some anxiety that that information is going to be sent right straight to the Chinese communists?
GAETZ: Well, if this pandemic has taught us anything, it's truly a wake-up call about our relationship with China. Whether it's the need to re-domesticate our supply chain, whether it’s the need to pull funding from joint ventures like the Wuhan Institute of Virology where they had our resources but then didn't share information with the world about the sequencing of this virus, or whether it is in fact Chinese technology in our country deployed by Huawei, or deployed by other Chinese companies in the form of telecommunications, or yes, even video drones.
And so, in dealing with and defeating the Chinese Wuhan virus, we should not invite China to have a greater role in our country for us to be more reliant on China or potentially to even risk a public health crisis becoming a national security risk.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.