Increasing anti-Asian American sentiment presents a new challenge to fighting coronavirus
by Ryan Jones • Published on March 31, 2020 • 0 Comments
The outbreak of novel coronavirus has had an unfortunate side effect. As the spread of the virus worsens, numerous Asian Americans have reported being subject to aggressive, verbal abuse and even violence as they are saddled with blame for COVID-19.
New York Representative Grace Meng, herself of Taiwenese descent, currently has 131 co-sponsors on her resolution condemning the racist language and offensive characterizations of the virus being directed at Asian Americans. A resolution condemning China for its supposed mishandling of the outbreak only has 39.
New York State Assemblywomen Mathylde Frontus dismissed a staff member earlier this month who shared a message on Facebook discouraging people from interacting with the Chinese American community. Frontus then issued a statement sharing what is an undeniable fact, “viruses do not distinguish among races and cultures.”
In 2015, the World Health Organization issued guidelines for more carefully naming the outbreak of an infectious disease which otherwise could be inaccurate or stigmatizing. During its recent teleconference, the G7 failed to draft a joint statement on coronavirus because the US State Department insisted on calling it the “Wuhan virus,” which one European diplomat called “a red line.”
New York leaders have been adamant criticism of these attacks on Asian Americans. At a recent press conference, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said “we will not tolerate any discrimination, we will not tolerate any hate crimes,” the Mayor said, pointing out that so many hate crimes already don’t go reported. He encourages anyone who feels they have been the victim of a hate crime to report it: in employment, as consumers, as renters, which, he says, could be breaking the City’s “very strong human rights law.” In the City, anyone who wants to report a possible hate crime can dial 3-1-1.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James has seen an increase in hate incidents and believes there is an obvious correlation between the language being used about coronavirus and reports of incidents against Asian Americans. “No one should live in fear for their life,” James said, “because of who they are, what they look like, or where they come from.” She encourages New Yorkers who wish to report hate crimes or bias incidents to e-mail or call the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau at 1-800-771-7755.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, hearing that an Asian American New Yorker was assaulted in Manhattan, he made it very clear that “there is zero evidence that people of Asian descent bear any additional responsibility for the transmission of the coronavirus.” But following the Governor’s daily press conference on Twitter, one will see random comments from viewers directed at Chinese Americans, blaming them for the virus and even suggesting physical action be taken against them to prevent further spread