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.
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.
Trump calls the coronavirus the “Kung Flu” to scapegoat Asian Americans during a dangerous time of racial turmoil because like any racist, he projects superiority to mask his inferiority and sense of defeat. The crowd in Tulsa is small so he lashes out like a dangerous demagogue.— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) June 21, 2020
1. "Kung Fu" is an umbrella term for the countless styles of martial arts developed in China.— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) June 23, 2020
2. Bruce Lee mainly studied Wing Chun and founded Jeet Kune Do.
3. "Kung Fu Fighting" has, in fact, been criticized for its racist lyrics.
4. "Kung Flu" is racist as hell. https://t.co/uprwCYeIyW
Calling covid-19 "Kung Flu" isn't a "racial grievance" or "a term... seen as derogatory or racist." It *is* racist.— Jada Yuan (@jadabird) June 22, 2020
Tepid wording reminds me of how few reports of David Dao being dragged off that United plane flagged racism.
120,000 thousand people dead because of Donald Trump's blunders. And he calls the coronavirus Kung Flu. Tell that to the families of the dead. And all of the doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers on the front lines. Trump is a racist unfeeling Goon. And his rally wasn't packed.— donald e whittler (@e_whittler) June 21, 2020
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.
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.”
Trump is furious that his crowd was tiny in Tulsa. 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.— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) June 22, 2020
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."
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