President Donald Trump on Saturday used racist terms to describe coronavirus — including “kung flu,” a phrase White House counselor and Trump ally Kellyanne Conway has specifically called out for being “highly offensive.”
“China sent us the plague,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“COVID-19 — that name gets further and further away from China, as opposed to calling it the Chinese virus,” Trump added. “It has more names than any disease in history. I can name ‘kung flu.’”
The crowd laughed.
Conway was furious when reporters asked her in March about an unnamed White House official referring to coronavirus as “kung flu.”
“Of course it’s wrong,” she told a reporter at the time. “That’s highly offensive. … I’d like to know who it is.” (Check out the video of her comments up top.)
Conway noted she is married to an Asian American man: Her husband, lawyer George Conway, who dislikes Trump intensely, is part Filipino.
George Conway used the phrase Saturday in a tweet mocking the president’s speech at the rally.
Public health experts and political leaders around the world have sharply criticized Trump for labeling COVID-19 a Chinese disease.
“This crisis requires science … not fear-mongering, finger-pointing and xenophobia by our public servants,” said MegaToys CEO Charlie Woo, a member of the Chinese American organization Committee of 100.
The pandemic “calls for a truly global, unified response,” he added. “Attempts to ascribe the virus to one culture, ethnicity or country can only hinder this effort, alienating people who could instead collaborate and support one another.”
Trump told Fox News in late March that he would no longer call COVID-19 the Chinese virus. “Look, everyone knows it came out of China, but I decided we shouldn’t make any more of a big deal out of it,” he said. Trump noted that China had “lost thousands of people; they’ve been through hell.”
Donald Trump Jr. shared an Instagram post in March with a “Karate Kid”-themed meme showing his father beating the coronavirus. It had an offensive caption: “Hahahahaha ‘The Kung-Flu Kid.’”
It’s still on his account.