Ilhan Omar slams Kevin McCarthy for racist tweet about 'Chinese coronavirus'

The 'Squad' member, who is seeking re-election this year, said viruses don't have nationalities, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also stepped forward to demand his apology


                            Ilhan Omar slams Kevin McCarthy for racist tweet about 'Chinese coronavirus'
Kevin McCarthy and Ilhan Omar (Getty Images)

Minnesota Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is known to not mince her words. The 37-year-old Somalia-born lawmaker, whose personal life has always been a subject of public discussions, recently lashed out at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for identifying coronavirus with a particular nationality, Chinese. According to Omar, such a geographic identification of COVID-19 is nothing but “racist”.

It happened so that McCarthy, a Republican Congressman from California, tweeted information about coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control Prevention on Tuesday, March 10, saying: “Everything you need to know about the Chinese coronavirus can be found on one, regularly-updated website.”

The use of the phrase “Chinese coronavirus” did not go down well with the fresh Congresswoman who counter tweeted, saying, “Viruses don't have nationalities. This is racist.”

Coronavirus originated in China’s Wuhan in December last year where over 80,000 people have been affected by the disease and over 3,000 have died. Moreover, in the US, over 1,300 people have been affected and nearly 40 have died. In countries like Iran and Italy, over 800 and 300 people have died, respectively. The total coronavirus fatalities all over the world have amounted to 4000, while 125,000 people have been known to be affected.

Omar’s objection to McCarthy’s phrase did not find universal support. Many were quick to point out that it was not rare to see the identification of the virus causing COVID-19 by its geographical region of origin in the media. News outlets like CNN, NBC and NPR used the phrase “Wuhan virus” while reporting about the case. 

Other California Democrats also objected to 'racism'

The ‘Squad’ member’s tone, however, was in tune with the apprehensions expressed by California’s 86-year-old Senator Dianne Feinstein over the cultural consequences of coronavirus. In a statement on March 2, she warned against the rise of racism towards Asian-Americans because of the disease’s outbreak.

“We’ve also seen a rise in racism toward Asian-Americans because the virus is associated with China. This is unconscionable and it’s not the American way. People of all ages, races and ethnicities are susceptible to this disease. Bigotry toward any one group for a virus they have nothing to do with makes no sense,” she said. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also did not approve of McCarthy's remark and sought an apology, tweeting, "Bigoted statements which spread misinformation and blame Asians and the Asian American community for #coronavirus make us all less safe. @GOPLeader must delete this tweet and apologize immediately."

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