Asian Americans Hail Biden's Hate Crime Plea: 'Stark Contrast to Kung Flu'

Asian Americans took to social media to praise President Joe Biden's condemnation of racist attacks amid the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday.

Biden called for an end to "vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans who've been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated" over the past year during his prime-time address on Thursday night. The president said that Asian Americans had been targeted and forced to "fear for their lives just walking down streets in America," a phenomenon that he said was "un-American" and "must stop."

The plea prompted a torrent of mostly positive responses on Twitter. Some, including Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), compared his remarks favorably to comments from former President Donald Trump, who frequently used terms like "the China virus" or "Kung Flu" when referring to the coronavirus last year.

"Thank you President Biden for your strong words to protect Americans of Asian descent, and for your executive order combatting hate crimes," tweeted Lieu. "This is in stark contrast to the former President who made racist remarks like 'Kung Flu' that inflamed prejudices against Asian Americans."

Thank you President Biden for your strong words to protect Americans of Asian descent, and for your executive order combatting hate crimes.

This is in stark contrast to the former President who made racist remarks like “Kung Flu” that inflamed prejudices against Asian Americans. https://t.co/xJpzyGFhlu

— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) March 12, 2021

"It matters when our president condemns hatred and violence against Asian Americans," Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) tweeted. "Thank you President Biden for your strong words and moral leadership."

It matters when our president condemns hatred and violence against Asian Americans.

Thank you President Biden for your strong words and moral leadership.

— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) March 12, 2021

"Biden just called out hate crimes against Asian-Americans during #COVID during his prime time speech," CBS correspondent Ramy Inocencio tweeted. "Thank you. So appreciated. In contrast to his predecessor who stoked division and hate."

Biden just called out hate crimes against Asian-Americans during #COVID during his prime time speech. Thank you. So appreciated. In contrast to his predecessor who stoked division and hate. Watching @washingtonpost live. @JoeBiden pic.twitter.com/nRFildJ5BO

— Ramy Inocencio 英若明 (@RamyInocencio) March 12, 2021

"Thank you @POTUS #Biden Asian Americans we do live in fear," musician Elizabeth Chan tweeted. "I have worn hats and masks and try to hide. My husband will not let me walk out alone with our kids. My life is not the same. This is my daughter today at school. Alone. Life shouldn't be like this."

Thank you @POTUS #Biden Asian Americans we do live in fear. I have worn hats and masks and try to hide. My husband will not let me walk out alone with our kids. My life is not the same. This is my daughter today at school. Alone. Life shouldn’t be like this. pic.twitter.com/GC2yd9WPYm

— Elizabeth Chan (@lizchanmusic) March 12, 2021

"Thank you President Joe Biden for calling attention to anti-Asian violence & hate that has arisen from racist scapegoating of Asians for Covid-19," former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Shanlon Wu tweeted. "This is how a real President acts when Americans are victimized and falsely scapegoated on account of race."

Thank you President Joe Biden for calling attention to anti-Asian violence & hate that has arisen from racist scapegoating of Asians for Covid-19. This is how a real President acts when Americans are victimized and falsely scapegoated on account of race. @POTUS #StopAsianHate pic.twitter.com/Vt9NUwB4iJ

— Shanlon Wu (@shanlonwu) March 12, 2021

While most referred to Biden's remarks positively, other took a different stance. Some conservatives insisted that claims of racist attacks against Asian Americans are a "conspiracy theory," despite more than 3,000 attacks on members of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities being reported since the pandemic started last year.

Joe Biden Asian Americans Trump Hate Crimes
President Joe Biden speaks during a prime-time televised speech to the nation from the White House in Washington, D.C. on March 11, 2021. Alex Wong/Getty

One white commentator claimed, without evidence, that Black "career criminals" were responsible for the attacks referenced by the president.

"Biden repeats the #BlueAnon conspiracy theory that attacks on Asians are due to people blaming them for Covid (because of Trump)," conservative writer Deb Heine tweeted. "'Vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans being scapegoated' he says. The vast majority of these crimes are committed by black career criminals."

Biden repeats the #BlueAnon conspiracy theory that attacks on Asians are due to people blaming them for Covid (because of Trump). "Vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans being scapegoated" he says. The vast majority of these crimes are committed by black career criminals.

— Deb Heine, Dissident (@NiceDeb) March 12, 2021

Another non-Asian conservative pushed back on Biden's remarks by insisting that no Asian Americans fear for their lives in the way that the president suggested.

"Where are these places Biden's talking about that Asian Americans can't walk down the street without fearing for their lives?" tweeted podcast host and publisher Michael Graham. "I mean, I know they're not welcome on liberal campuses like Harvard or in elite public schools in NYC -- but violence?"

Where are these places Biden's talking about that Asian Americans can't walk down the street without fearing for their lives? I mean, I know they're not welcome on liberal campuses like Harvard or in elite public schools in NYC -- but violence?

— ConservativeNotCrazy (@IAMMGraham) March 12, 2021

A report released earlier this month by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at the University of California, San Bernardino found that although hate crimes in 16 of America's largest cities fell by 7 percent overall in 2020 amid the pandemic, hate crimes targeting Asian Americans skyrocketed by 149 percent during the same time.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment. A spokesperson for Trump declined to comment.

Update 3/12, 4:04 p.m.: This article has been updated to reflect that a spokesperson for former President Donald Trump declined to comment.