AMVOTE Sounds the Alarm Against Scapegoating Minorities for the Spread of the Coronavirus.
Judge William J. Haddad, Retired
Chairman of the American Middle East Voters Alliance
The American Middle East Voters Alliance denounces hate speech which vilifies Asian Americans during the Corona Virus pandemic, and calls upon all governmental leaders to monitor, identify, denounce and prevent all such hateful rhetoric.
The UN News recently reported a “plan of action” to deter hate speech which blames minorities for the spread of the Corona Virus in light of “a disturbing groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance – including rising anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred and persecution of Christians”. These forms of hatred have become “platforms of bigotry [by]… Neo-Nazi and white supremacy movements” through social media. Public discourse is being weaponized for political gain with social commentary often laced with incendiary rhetoric which stigmatizes and dehumanizes migrants, refugees, women and other ethnic, racial and social minorities in liberal democracies and authoritarian systems alike. This vilification of minorities diminishes their standing in society, and thereby increases their plight. Migrants, refugees, poor, and elderly are more and more being marginalized as “expendable”. They are being denied access to treatment and left to die. The UN strategy recognizes the protection of the right to freedom of speech but urges governments and societies to recognize and reject the targeting of minorities as “scapegoats” for the spread of the virus. Apparently, the United States is not listening.
The Anti-Defamation League recently reported a plethora of racist incidents targeting Asian-Americans throughout the United States, including California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington State, and Wisconsin. “These incidents include being told to ‘Go back to China,’ being blamed for ‘bringing the virus’ to the United States, being referred to with racial slurs, spat on, or physically assaulted”. (See ADL’s Reports of Anti-Asian Assaults, Harassment and Hate Crimes Rise as Coronavirus Spreads, May 4, 2020)
The Intercept online news organization reports that, as Coronavirus deaths mount, “President Donald Trump’s China-bashing has evolved from a short-term political tactic into a full-fledged election strategy” with characterizations of the Virus as a “Chinese virus” and the “kung-flu”. These are “terms used by Trump and officials in his administration over the past few months” which conjure images of Asian faces and offhanded mentions of “the Chinese”. A Pro-Trump PAC reportedly characterized Joe Biden as “Beijing Biden” and that “ China is killing our jobs and now killing our people”. Even a pro Biden campaign Advertisement reportedly hyped that “Trump rolled over for the Chinese”. (Intercept, Mara Hvistendahl, May 11 2020)
John Yang, president of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, states that “There’s a clear link between the rhetoric that’s being used and the increased harm to our community… We are equally concerned about both [political] parties.”
The American Middle East Voters Alliance urges governmental leaders here in America and abroad to refrain from repeating the horrid hate speech and dog whistling that occurred during the 2016 presidential campaign when certain candidates were denouncing Arab-Americans and Muslims as a threat to the United States — that they should be barred from immigrating here, that they should be surveilled, profiled, registered, and even interned. At the time, a Zogby Poll documented a groundswell of bigotry against Arab-Americans, Muslims and Asian Americans fueled by hate rhetoric from those candidates. Predictably, those hateful remarks resulted in attacks upon places of worship, residences, community centers, and businesses.
The American Middle East Voters Alliance denounces hate speech by politicians and the media which vilifies Asian Americans during the Corona Virus pandemic, and calls upon all governmental leaders to monitor, identify, denounce and prevent all such hateful rhetoric.