Trump says Asian-Americans were targeted by ‘nasty language’ during coronavirus pandemic

President Donald Trump speaks to the media in Washington, D.C., September 1, 2019.

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President Donald Trump speaks to the media in Washington, D.C., September 1, 2019.
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Joshua Roberts/Reuters
  • President Donald Trump on Monday assured Americans that the Asian-Americans ought to be “totally” protected” in light of xenophobic attacks during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Trump made a marked departure from his previous comments in which he referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.”
  • Trump’s message for unity was met with some criticism.
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President Donald Trump on Monday said the Asian-American community ought to be “totally” protected” in light of xenophobic attacks during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States, and all around the world,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “They are amazing people, and the spreading of the Virus is NOT their fault in any way, shape, or form.”

“They are working closely with us to get rid of it,” Trump added. “WE WILL PREVAIL TOGETHER!”

By referring to the coronavirus as a “Virus,” Trump made a marked departure from his previous comments in which he referred to it as the “Chinese virus.”

Trump’s prior characterization of the virus was widely criticized. While allies pointed to the coronavirus’s origins and defended the label, critics have claimed it was fueling racist behavior against Asians and that previous pandemics were never referred to their suspected country of origin.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases whose notoriety has recently grown, said he would never refer to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.”

Trump’s comments on Twitter were later repeated verbatim during a press conference hours later. The president added that Asian-Americans were “incredible” and that they may have been subjected to “nasty language” in recent days.

“I don’t like that at all,” Trump said.

The remarks comes as numerous hate crimes have been reported by people of Asian descent around the world.

In a case reported by the New York Post earlier in March, an unidentified Asian man alleged a 44-year-old man named Raoul Ramos screamed at him for not wearing a mask while he was walking with his 10-year-old son in New York. Ramos, who is accused of hitting the Asian man in the head before fleeing, was arrested.

The Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and the San Francisco State University have since created a website for people to report discriminatory behavior.

Trump’s message for unity was met with some criticism. Observers noted that Trump referred to Asian-Americans as “they” and other Americans as “us,” a tribalistic mentality appropriated by nationalist groups, according to social scientists.

Others thanked Trump for refraining from characterizing the coronavirus, which has been reported in roughly 168 countries, as Chinese.