SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – State Representative Kim Coleman is standing by her Thursday blog post after it led to a wave of backlash on social media, accusing her of being racist and xenophobic.
In the post titled, “America must end its reliance on Communist China for essential goods,” the Utah Republican lawmaker from West Jordan blamed the Chinese Communist Party for the COVID-19 pandemic, a narrative previously shared by President Trump.
“Let’s be clear. The coronavirus plague facing us comes exclusively as a courtesy of the Chinese Communist Party. No Communist China, no crisis. The CCP lied and dissembled the reality of this often-deadly virus, their deception costing the rest of the world as many as six weeks of preparation. Those six weeks will end up costing how many thousands of lives worldwide? How many trillions of dollars?” she wrote.
Coleman’s accompanying post on Twitter was met with a slew of critics who called her remarks irresponsible and disgusting, including Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams, Utahns Against Hunger Executive Director Gina Cornia, and author Darlene McDonald.
Representative Karen Kwan from Taylorsville, who is Chinese American, echoed the concerns and said the comments are “harmful.”
“Her words are divisive and it causes people to attribute a disease to an ethnicity group,” said Rep. Kwan. “We see such good in people that there’s no reason to be divisive.”
Kwan noted the recent uptick in discrimination and violence against Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent all over the country and believes xenophobic rhetoric is a big contributor. On Wednesday, President Trump was questioned for using the term “China virus” and denied the term was racist, asserting the label was to identify that COVID-19 came from China.
“As an official, we should be calming people’s fear. We should be showing what we are doing rather than dividing our communities. This is a time when we should be coming together and unifying our communities,” Kwan said. “To call the pandemic the ‘Chinese flu’ or the ‘Chinese virus’ just puts that xenophobia to it and that’s what’s dangerous about it.”
Coleman is currently running for Utah’s 4th Congressional District to replace current U.S. Representative Ben McAdams, the state’s only Democratic congressional representative. She argued that voters should cast their ballot for her and re-elect President Trump because they have been “warning against the country’s dependence on Chinese pharmaceuticals for almost a year.”
“We now depend on a ruthless regime for vital goods like base ingredients for lifesaving drugs. Joe Biden has been a huge Communist China booster. Donald Trump told us the truth even when we didn’t want to hear it,” Coleman wrote. “Trump’s 2020 reelection can’t come soon enough, and he needs allies like me in Congress to help him implement the life-saving America First agenda.”
Some who condemned Coleman believe she is using this type of rhetoric as a political move.
“[…] Don’t pander to the lowest xenophobe to gain a vote. You are better than this. True leaders rise to unite humanity, not further divide. I expect more from congressional leadership,” Williams tweeted.
“[…] People are dying, and America is quarantined. You’re trying to turn a very public health crisis into a political one. Not the time,” tweeted local chef Tom Woodbury.
“Leaders today, when we have a crisis like this, we should be speaking from fact, not from trying to get political favors,” said Kwan. “She has Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders living in her district. There are definitely a number living in Congressional District 4.”
In a statement to ABC4 News Friday, Rep. Coleman wrote:
“My post was about the actions of the CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY (CCP), NOT the Chinese people. It is a fact that had the CCP been forthcoming three weeks sooner, there would be significantly fewer cases and deaths around the world. I share this concern with the top health, security, and government leaders of our country.”