Trump calls COVID-19 kung flu during rally, trick of stoking hate to win election

By Xu Keyue Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/21 21:12:03

Police officers shoot pepper balls toward the crowd where Trump supporters and anti-Trump protestors roamed together in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where President Donald Trump held a campaign rally on Saturday. Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump again used a racist term when he called COVID-19 "kung flu" on Saturday night at a rally, even as the pandemic continues its march across the country, which experts said lays bare Trump's election strategy - they have decided to abandon winning over minorities, including Asian and African Americans, in favor of using anxiety among white Americans to stoke hatred against minorities.

The trick can work for Trump's election but at the same time, it is likely to tear US society apart, expert said.

US media reported that during his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump called the coronavirus "kung flu." 

The rally came after Oklahoma saw a spike in COVID-19 cases over the past week, US media outlet TheHill reported, noting that "Hours before the president's rally took place, six members of his campaign's advance team tested positive for COVID-19."

This is not the first time that Trump has intentionally passed the virus buck to China. He has repeatedly termed the coronavirus as the "Wuhan virus" or the "Chinese virus" in public which sparked outrage from Asian Americans and many civil liberties groups. The public condemned the offensive and groundless comments for  inciting racist discrimination and violence against Chinese and other Asian Americans.

Trump's remarks have brought criticism from the public and some celebrities. Chris Evans, the Hollywood movie star who played Captain America in the Marvel movies, tweeted Sunday "Did the president of the United States just say 'Kung flu' at his rally? He made a racist joke…I'm speechless." His tweet received more than 207,500 likes.

Chinese netizens were also offended, but some are already immune to his racist stance. A web user commented on that it was "not a surprise at all, no need to waste my time to see what he said." Another one said "his supporters just want a joker to be their president, rather than a leader." 

By not only abandoning Asian Americans, Trump is also seemingly leaving other US minority groups, including African Americans, in the lurch.

Trump described the protests that were ignited by George Floyd's death as "domestic acts of terror," which law enforcement would "dominate the streets" to quell, CNN reported on June 2. 

Observers also believe that choosing Tulsa as the venue for his latest election campaign rally was a tactic to incite anxiety among white Americans against African Americans at this particular moment, as in late May and early June 1921, white extremists attacked and killed black residents in Tulsa. 

Trump is going to further provoke the protesters so he can spark fury among his base and win the election in November, Ni Feng, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Given his vigorous reactions to the street violence and his repeated racism against minorities including Asian Americans and African Americans, Trump is obviously trying to win the election by stoking white US voters' anxiety about their standing in a country that is growing more diverse, Ni said. Trump knows that it is unlikely he can win many votes from minorities, so he is turning to win more support from people affected by the violence and stoked by racism, Ni noted.

"This is his only way to win the election," Ni said, noting that it is too early to tell if Trump can win in November.

However, the strategy, which has escalated social chaos, will tear the US society apart and eventually harm the country's development, Ni said. 

Also during the rally, Trump called COVID-19 testing a "double-edged sword" and said he told officials in his administration to "slow the testing down" because an increase in testing leads to an increase in coronavirus cases.

"When you do testing to that extent, you are gonna find more people, you're gonna find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing down please," Trump said. 

The president's rally in Tulsa - which brought thousands of people into an indoor arena with no social distancing enforcement - goes directly against guidelines from public health officials, which reflects Trump's desperation over the build-up to his election with little of care about public lives, experts said.

According to data updated on Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the country has tested 26,781,666 people, among whom 2,691,715 tested positive.

Newspaper headline: Trump calls virus ‘kung flu’ at rally in strategy to stoke hate


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