Donald Trump
President Trump’s racially charged tweets were described as “fearmongering” in the report. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Asian American support groups released a study Wednesday showing widespread COVID-related racism in the social media posts of Republican politicians in the runup to the Presidential election.

“Unfortunately, the final weeks leading up the the 2020 election are dangerous for Asian Americans as we see President Trump use fearmongering and scapegoating to try to win the election,” said Manju Kulkarni, executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council in Los Angeles, in a briefing for national press.

Kulkarni said racially charged terms like “Wuhan virus,” “kung flu” and “Chinese Virus” are “routinely employed by President Trump” and he has advocated exclusionary immigration polices that affect the Asian American community.

She said hate crime incidents had spiked during the pandemic, adding that, “We know President Trump is also a ‘super-spreader’ of hate through racists tweets.”

The study, which analyzed tweets by candidates for President, Vice President and Senator between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, found 1,227 that used potentially racially charged terms. Of those, 136 tweets used, endorsed or defended racist, stigmatizing rhetoric.

The three officials who most often used racist rhetoric were Trump and two other Republicans, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Tennessee Senate candidate Bill Hagerty.

The study said that in addition to using racially charged language, many tweets advocated restricting immigration, banning foreign students, and ending sensitivity training.

The study, titled “The Return of ‘Yellow Peril,’” a reference to anti-Chinese policies from more than a century ago, was conducted by Melissa Borja, assistant professor in the department of American culture at University of Michigan.

It was sponsored by Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition formed to counter anti-Asian discrimination amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.