The term Chinese virus has been labelled hate speech by San Antonio’s city council.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who put forward the now-passed resolution, blamed the use of the terms Chinese virus and Kung Fu virus for a rise in hate speech during the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Texas city will now ask its citizens to ‘report any such antisemitic, discriminatory or racist incidents to the proper authorities for investigation’, according to San Antonio’s WOAI-TV.
US senator Ted Cruz blasted the decision as ‘nuts’. He added that the council were acting like ‘a lefty college faculty lounge’.
‘If they want to investigate someone, start with NYT & CNN who both repeatedly (and rightly) referred to it as ‘the Chinese coronavirus.’
It comes after US president Donald Trump sparked criticism by referring to Covid-19 as the Chinese virus. Trump responded to complaints by saying he just meant the term geographically and would stop if it bothered Asian-Americans.
‘It’s not racist at all,’ Trump said during one press conference after a reporter asked why he kept using the term. He added: ‘It comes from China, that’s why.’
Explaining the decision, Mayor Nirenberg revealed ‘there has been a rise in hate speech throughout the course of this pandemic’.
He said: ‘Our efforts must meet the indiscriminate nature of COVID-19 with empathy and compassion for all our neighbors.’
City councilors voted 11-0 in favor of the resolution.
One Chinese restaurant, the Golden Star in the city’s downtown area, has been hit particularly badly by racist abuse, according to Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales.
She said: ‘It’s been in operation for almost 90 years. They have been the victims of hate speech and hate crimes, with vandalism and that sort of thing on their property.’
Asian-Americans have reported 650 racist attacks over the course of a week in March, according to online reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate.
‘The data from our reporting center – both the numbers and the self-reported narratives – clearly reveal that Asian Americans are being racially profiled as threatening, disease-carriers,’ said Russell Jeung, Ph.D., chair and professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University.
Reports range from attackers spitting and coughing over their victims, to being refused rides in Ubers or Lyfts and being told to leave shops.
As of Wednesday there were 33,912 positive coronavirus cases in Texas and 925 people in the state had died of the disease.
Abbott announced in a media briefing last week that the state would ‘strategically’ allow businesses such as malls, movie theaters and restaurants to run at 25 per cent capacity and said ‘it’s only logical to see there would be an increase in the number of people that test positive’.