'Dangerous': Trump's team defends his use of 'racist' phrase during rally

The White House has defended US President Donald Trump’s use of the term “kung flu” when referring to the coronavirus after it was slammed as racist online.

Mr Trump was speaking to a crowd of supporters at Tulsa in the US state of Oklahoma on Saturday (local time) ahead of the US presidential election in November.

But he’s been accused of racism after bringing up coronavirus.

"By the way, it's a disease, without question has more names than any disease in history. I can name 'Kung Flu' - I can name 19 different versions of names,” he told the crowd.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday that Mr Trump was just linking the virus to its place of origin, China and was not being offensive to any race.

US President Donald Trump addresses the crowd in Tulsa. Source: Getty Images

However, many people on social media were outraged by the use of the term.

A US doctor Eugene Gu tweeted that the term “scapegoats Asian-Americans” at a “dangerous time of racial turmoil”.

Others reminded people that it was not a time to make jokes because more than 120,000 Americans had died of the virus.

While some supporters defended Mr Trump alleging that the use of the term was just a joke, the majority of people writing about it on social media, particularly on Twitter, seemed to find the term offensive.

The US President has made headlines and raised eyebrows with his comments throughout the pandemic.

Mr Trump went on a tirade against a journalist during a coronavirus update in May after telling her to “ask China” before abruptly ending the press conference.

He was also mocked widely for suggesting a way to kill coronavirus could be injecting disinfectant.

People gather for testing in Beijing, China on Tuesday. Source: Getty Images

Mr Trump has condemned China too – leading to a war of words with China’s government releasing a document detailing what it says are “24 lies” the US has told throughout  the pandemic.

Comments like ‘Kung Flu’ pushing Asian-Americans to Democrats

Actor Olivia Munn tweeted while it’s not racist to suggest the virus came from China it is “offensive and racist to call it kung flu”.

Former Star Trek star George Takei also found the name in poor taste.

“Trump is furious that his crowd was tiny in Tulsa,” Takei tweeted. 

“But I'm furious, too, that he used his platform to make racist ‘Kung Flu’ jokes after 120,000 Americans have died on his watch and because of his negligence. This monster needs to go.”

Comedian Ken Jeong suggested the US president saying “racist s*** like kung flu” “is one reason Asian Americans now trend towards Democrats”.

Media trying to play games, says Trump’s camp

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday said the media is trying to "play games" with nomenclature.

Mr Trump has not directed any slowdown in coronavirus testing and does not regret using the term "kung flu," which many consider to be offensive, to describe the virus, the White House said on Monday.

Mr Trump has also sought to reinforce that the virus originated in China.

Asked by a reporter why the president was using racist language, Ms McEnany said he was not.

"He is linking it to its place of origin," she said. 

"I think the media is trying to play games with the terminology of this virus where the focus should be on the fact that China let this out of their country."

with Reuters

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.