President Donald Trump—whose presidency has been marked by repeated and grossly offensive racist rhetoric and policies—came under fire Wednesday for again defending his use of the racist term "Chinese virus" to describe the coronavirus sweeping the globe.
"Because it comes from China!" Trump responded during a White House press briefing when asked by ABC News correspondent Cecili Vega about his use of the phrase—one which critics have said is overtly racist and puts those of Chinese descent and other Asian people at risk of further discrimination and bigotry amid the pandemic.
When asked why he continues to call it the “Chinese virus” the President’s response is “because it comes from China, it’s not racist at all” pic.twitter.com/P20TgRdXbY
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) March 18, 2020
"The question," noted journalist Gabriella Pagán on Twitter, "comes as many Asian Americans become the target of racism, discrimination, violence amid COVID-19 outbreak."
According to recent statements by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, "Stigma, to be honest, is more dangerous than the virus itself."
While Trump in his remarks on Wednesday echoed a slew of right-wing commentary of recent days by claiming "it's not racist—not at all" to use the phrase, that is simply a self-serving lie.
The NAACP was unequivocal in its condemnation of Trump's statement.
"When this level of racism and discrimination is allowed to be so openly exercised from highest office in the nation," the civil rights group tweeted, "those who are silent become complicit. We will not be silent."
As William Thomson wrote for Quartz on Wednesday morning, "This pattern of conflating race with a specific disease is a constant thread in American history."
In a scientific sense, Thomson explained, "we know that viruses are race-blind, and its origin and spread has nothing to do with skin color, features, or culture. Humans, however, are not race-blind."