HomeAsian AmericansGOP leader resurrects racist term the "Chinese flu"

GOP leader resurrects racist term the “Chinese flu”

Michigan State Senator Mike Shirkey photo

Michigan State Senator Stephanie Chang (D-MI) called out fellow Sen. Mike Shirkey (R-MI) this week for making a racist comment about the coronavirus.

According to Michigan Advance, Shirkey appeared on a local TV show and made a remark about his battle with the “Chinese flu.”

“The Chinese flu army sent in one of their best soldiers,” Shirkey joked with JTV host Bart Hawley. “His name was Rona. I’m not as young as he used to be, so he and I wrestled for nine days, but I finally pinned him.”

Chang immediately blasted the reference to a race of people when talking about the pandemic.

“Referring to COVID-19 as ‘Chinese flu’ or ‘China virus’ is xenophobic and completely inappropriate,” she said in a statement. There have been more than 2,500 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents since last March when the coronavirus pandemic was first reported in Michigan, and this language perpetuates it. In fact, the World Health Organization stopped calling viruses by ethnicities or countries for a reason: It causes harm.”

Michigan Asian American Perspectives is urging those who agree with Chang to sign a community letter to Shirkey.

“Regardless of whether you are Black, Brown, White, or Asian American, we all want to get through this pandemic and come out better on the other side,” the letter states. “Sen. Shirkey’s language sets Asian Americans apart and tries to place the blame for this pandemic on China. We know that name calling and placing blame are tools to distract from real accountability for the fact that many lives could have been saved had Republicans not made this pandemic a partisan issue. We call on Sen. Shirkey to apologize and get to work on a just COVID-19 response that includes all of us.”

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich of Flint joined in the condemnation, according to MLive.

“I’m tired of waiting for Republicans to learn that their racist jokes about the pandemic (or anything at all) aren’t cute or funny,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “Nearly 15k Michiganders are dead from it. I’m not laughing.”

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