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Ted Lieu Touts Rise of Asian American Voters as Trump’s ‘Kung Flu’ Rhetoric Spreads

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Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) suggested former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric during the COVID-19 pandemic cost him Asian American votes after a study found Trump’s language inflamed anti-Asian discourse on Twitter.

“Asian Americans are the fastest increasing group in America, with eligible voters more than doubling since 2000,” Lieu tweeted on Friday. “In states like CA, [Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders] are the 2nd largest ethnic group. The former President attacked & mocked Asian Americans. We voted. He lost. Attack us at your own peril.”

Lieu’s statements were in response to a study published Thursday by the American Journal of Public Health, which examined the volume of Sinophobic tweets after Trump posted his first tweet containing the term “Chinese Virus” on March 16, 2020.

Asian Americans are the fastest increasing group in America, with eligible voters more than doubling since 2000. In states like CA, AAPIs are the 2nd largest ethnic group.

The former President attacked & mocked Asian Americans. We voted. He lost. Attack us at your own peril. https://t.co/iawVRALjZI

— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) March 19, 2021

In a review of 1.2 million hashtags during the week after Trump’s post, the study reported a “massive increase” in the volume of tweets using the hashtag #chinesevirus. Approximately 1 in 5 hashtags used alongside #covid19 and half of the hashtags with #chinesevirus were anti-Asian, according to the study.

Following Trump’s tweet, #chinesevirus overtook #covid19 in popularity. The study also determined the term to have possibly served as a “rallying cry” for Trump’s supporters.

The Liberty Buzz has contacted Trump’s office for comment.

The study emerged after eight people—among them six Asian women—were killed on Tuesday in three shootings at massage parlors in the Atlanta area. Law enforcement officials said shooter Robert Aaron Long, 21, indicated he was motivated by an attempt to suppress urges stemming from sex addiction.

While it remains under investigation, the tragedy has spurred calls to end racist sentiment and hate crimes against people of Asian descent.

Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA), who chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said Wednesday Trump “clearly stoked the flames of xenophobia against AAPIs with his rhetoric.”

“The CDC and the World Health Organization said that we should all use the official term COVID-19 in order to make sure that this disease is not associated with a particular geographical location or ethnicity due to the stigma it causes,” Chu said.

“President Trump refused to acknowledge that, instead used these terms, ‘China virus,’ ‘Wuhan virus’ and even ‘Kung Flu.’ And as a result, the anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents increased exponentially. What we saw yesterday is a result of that.”

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Stop AAPI Hate co-founder Manjusha Kulkarni said that out of 2,500 incidents reported to the organization during the pandemic, more than 700 “correlated to comments that were made about China, as the ‘China virus,’ the ‘Wuhan virus’ and ‘Kung Flu,’ and similar comments that were made about sending people back to their country.”

Witnesses at the hearing—which focused on discrimination and violence against Asian Americans—told lawmakers Trump’s language during the pandemic has inflamed anti-Asian sentiment.

During the hearing, Lieu hit back at congressman Chip Roy (R-TX), who expressed concern over “the policing of rhetoric in a free society.”

“You can say racist, stupid stuff if you want,” Lieu said. “But I’m asking you to please stop using racist terms like ‘Kung Flu’ or ‘Wuhan Virus’ or other ethnic identifiers in describing this virus. I am not a virus.”

“Whatever political points you think you are scoring by using ethnic identifiers in describing this virus, you’re harming Americans who happen to be of Asian descent. So please stop doing that.”

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) arrives before the fifth day of the Senate Impeachment trials for former President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill on February 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. Following shootings at massage parlors in the Atlanta area, Lieu has criticized Trump for his rhetoric during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stefani Reynolds – Pool/Getty Images

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