Is $22M lawsuit against Trump for using "Chinese virus" right?
- The CDC states that Coronavirus (COVID-19) was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019, but was officially labeled by the World Health Organization on February 11, 2020.
- As of Monday, May 24, 2021, there have been 33.9 million coronavirus cases in the United States, with 604,141 reported deaths.
- STOP AAPI Hate reported a record high number of anti-Asian hate crimes within the past year since the pandemic started. From March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021, 3,795 incidents were reported versus the previous year's 2,808 incidents.
- On Thursday, May 20, 2021, President Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law in order to make reporting hate crimes easier and help prevent hate crimes. It was introduced by Rep. Grace Meng and Sen. Mazie Hirono.
- The Chinese American Civil Rights Coalition is suing former President Trump for around $22 million for alleged “defamation and infliction of emotional distress” of Asian Americans because of his use of terms for COVID-19 like “Chinese Virus,” “Wuhan Flu,” and “Kung Flu” while he was in office.
The recent uptick in violence against the AAPI community has been widely noted to have originated with the callous remarks of former President Trump. In describing how casual racist speech from a head of state legitimizes violence against a minority, E. Tendayi Achiume of the United Nations explained how Trump's Language 'creates an environment where violence is more permissible, and attacks are more permissible.' Trump caused these communities real pain, both in terms of violent physical attacks and in economic impact through his repeated and specific word choices; it is right that he faces legal action. While a lawsuit cannot undo the physical harm suffered by some, it is an important step toward justice for this community.
This lawsuit is wholly appropriate because a demonstrable link between the former President's actions and the increase in hate crimes can and will be made in court. Not surprisingly, a University of California study found that Twitter—Trump's favorite bully pulpit—saw a sharp increase in the use of anti-Asian hashtags shortly after Trump began calling the virus the 'Wuhan Flu,' the 'China Virus,' and other racially insensitive names.
This lawsuit will set a precedent that this type of behavior will not be tolerated from those in power. It further sends a message to the AAPI community as well as other minority groups that they are a welcome part of our American society and that there are groups who will stand with them against these types of racist actions. Former President Trump was wrong to use this language, and it is right that he is facing legal action because of it.
It is invalid for the Chinese Americans Civil Rights Coalition to sue Donald Trump on the grounds that his 'China virus' comments proved harmful to the Asian community. Trump was simply nicknaming (which he has been known to do) COVID-19 for what it was: a virus that allegedly originated in China. However, it was not blatantly discriminatory towards Chinese people or culture in any way. This type of term is not new either, even for viruses. The swine flu (H1N1 virus), for example, was an illness originating from pigs, so the name makes sense.
However, the Chinese American Civil Rights Coalition (CACRC) claims that Trump's insinuation that COVID-19 is from China is 'baseless' regarding the fact that the origin of the coronavirus has not been officially verified. However, by this point, many would deduce, based on legitimate sources, that it indeed came from China.
Despite this pointing towards the fact that Trump's name for the virus is simply factual, there are, of course, those who have found a way to be offended by it. The claim is that Trump's verbiage somehow motivated the recent increase in violence towards Asian Americans. Yet, it is important to note that throughout Biden's presidency, the rate of related hate crimes has actually increased by 164% since 2020, suggesting that Trump cannot necessarily be blamed for the issue.
Feelings aside, the fact that CACRC action has taken the form of a $22.9 million lawsuit is arguably excessive. Trump was obviously not the only person to refer to the 'China virus' as such, yet he is the only person facing legal action for it despite being the leader of the free world at the time of making them.