The coronavirus pandemic has killed nearly 15,000 Americans and plundered the economy, but its ravages don’t stop there: It has also sparked an outbreak of hateful attacks against Asian Americans, Muslims and others.
Americans United is proud to sign an important solidarity statement supporting communities that are targeted for hate. The statement was coordinated by our allies at the Leadership Conference for Civil & Human Rights and has been endorsed by dozens of organizations.
“Throughout our history, too many have been targeted for discrimination, in many cases for generations, and often during times of great economic and social upheaval,” asserts the statement. “Over the last several weeks, we have seen white supremacists and others seek to weaponize this fear and anxiety in order to advance their own hateful ideologies. There is a devastating spike in acts of hate targeting Asian Americans. We are also seeing an increase in the targeting of immigrants, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, Jews, people with disabilities, and people of color.”
You don’t have to look far to find examples of these attacks. Los Angeles resident Jeff Yang told PBS that a woman screamed profanities at him in a grocery store, then pulled down her face mask and deliberately coughed on him.
“It really was a bit of a gut punch,” Yang said.
The use of the term “Chinese virus” by President Donald Trump and his toadies at Fox News doesn’t help. The term implies blame – or even that there was something intentional or reckless about the release of the virus. In fact, scientists believe the virus originated in animals and jumped to humans, a common method of transmission. It could have happened anywhere. Furthermore, new research has cast doubt on past pathology origin stories. Consider the deadly “Spanish flu” of 1918. It turns out it didn’t originate in Spain – it might have even started in America.
White supremacists, racists and other extremists are exploiting the uncertainty and fear stoked by coronavirus to spread hate. That’s all the more reason to condemn it. During a difficult time like this, it’s important that we stand together (metaphorically!) to remind everyone that scapegoating someone based on his or her race, national origin, sexual orientation, religion or other factors isn’t just counterproductive, it’s un-American.
P.S. Americans United has been opposing discrimination on the basis of religious belief or lack thereof for nearly 75 years. We’d love to have your support!