WASHINGTON – On Oct. 9, Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and CAPAC First Vice Chair Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) joined Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), and John Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), for the release of a new ADL report that shows a rise in anti-Asian bigotry on Twitter following the president’s first tweet about his positive coronavirus diagnosis and his remarks at the first presidential debate linking COVID-19 to China.
The new study of Twitter conversations and activity, conducted by ADL’s Center for Technology and Society, found that in the 12 hours after the president’s initial tweet about his and the first lady’s COVID-19 diagnosis, there was an 85 percent increase in anti-Asian language and conspiracy theories tracked on the platform.
Similarly, the rate of discussions about various conspiracy theories increased 41 percent, with some of those conversations also taking on anti-Semitic overtones. From Oct. 2-5, the percentage of anti-Asian language on Twitter remained higher than usual.
According to the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, associating a virus with a specific geographic region, country, or people creates stigma and can lead to xenophobia and bigotry. This has been seen in the over 2,600 anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents reported in recent months as the president and members of his administration use slurs like “Chinese virus” and “kung flu.”
Reps. Chu, Meng, and Schneider issued the following statements:
“From the birther scandal to lies about immigrants to his attempt to blame China for his own failure to contain the coronavirus, Donald Trump has built his presidency on perpetuating conspiracy theories and racism. And the dangerous consequences of this can be seen in the actions of his followers,” said Chu. “As this report shows, when confronted with news that reflects poorly on the president, like his COVID-19 diagnosis, his supporters respond with attacks that Asians or Jews are to blame – rhetoric that we know leads to violence.
“That is why, since the very beginning of this crisis, we have urged leaders to avoid misinformation and xenophobia. But at every turn, Republicans not only doubled down on the use of slurs like ‘China virus’ and ‘kung flu,’ they also denied the impact their own words were having on innocent Asian Americans who have been terrified by the anti-Asian hate we have witnessed throughout this pandemic.
“Well now, thanks to the ADL’s work, we have the data to prove that their words have an impact and I hope it serves to tamp down the dangerous bigotry that has come to define the Republicans’ response to the coronavirus.”
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Asian Americans from all across the country have been the targets of disgusting acts of hate and violence,” said Meng. “This new ADL report showing a rise in anti-Asian bigotry on Twitter is sad and extremely disturbing.
“But unfortunately, it comes as no surprise. It is just a continuation of the ugliness we have seen; ugliness that has been fueled by the discriminatory and disparaging rhetoric that continues to come from President Trump and others.
“I thank the ADL and CAPAC for keeping a light shined on this problem, and hope that all who oppose this bigotry and violence will continue call it out whenever and wherever it occurs, and say loud and clear that this hatred is unacceptable and must not be tolerated.”
“There is a very real danger in what extremists think and do online,” said Schneider. “This stunning piece of metadata analysis reveals that there is an undeniable connection between the president and how extremists online target others via race and ethnicity. Be it anti-Semitic, anti-Asian, or any other bigoted sentiment, its growth signals potential oncoming violence and compels us to warn the nation: stop scapegoating minorities out of political convenience and instead join together to combat this deadly virus with facts.”