LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — U.S. Senator Tom Cotton is being accused of racism for continually using the phrase “China virus” when referring to the novel coronavirus.
The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, originated during an outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
CBS News White House Correspondent Weijia Jang tweeted that Cotton continues to use the phrase “China virus” even though “Trump has abandoned the name.” She even compared Cotton’s homepage to “some of the most prominent Republican China hawks in the U.S. Senate” and none of them used the same rhetoric.
President Donald Trump said during a Fox News interview last week that he was moving away from calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus.” He said he decided “we shouldn’t make any more of a big deal out of it.”
Before Trump stopped using the phrase, he said that it was “not racist at all” despite critics saying it was xenophobic and racist.
Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, spoke to the New York Times and said “use of this term can’t but be interpreted as xenophobic and tinged with racist overtones.”
Dan Whitfield, an independent running against Cotton in 2020, tweeted, “As [Cotton] continues to spew racism and hatred we must remember that China is not our enemy, the COVID-19 Corona virus is.”
“Defeating this common worldwide enemy is going to take all of our nations working together,” Whitfield said. “We can not afford to warmonger against a people that are suffering just as we are.”
The FBI warned that hate crimes against Asian Americans “likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of the coronavirus disease.”
“The FBI makes this assessment based on the assumption that a portion of the US public will associate COVID-19 with China and Asian American populations,” the FBI said in an intelligence report.
The report detailed a March 14 stabbing in Midland, Texas, where a 19-year-old man was arrested after he stabbed an Asian American man and two of his children at a Sam’s Club.
“The suspect indicated that he stabbed the family because he thought the family was Chinese, and infecting people with the coronavirus,” the document stated.
During an appearance on Watters’ World on Fox News, Cotton said, “Anyone who complains that it’s racist or xenophobic to call this virus the Chinese coronavirus or the Wuhan virus is a politically correct fool.”
We have asked Sen. Cotton for additional comments. We will update this article when we receive that.