Utah lawmaker accused of racism for blaming coronavirus on Chinese communists

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) Kim Coleman announces her candidacy to represent Utah’s 4th Congressional District, in West Jordan on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020.

State Rep. Kim Coleman is facing charges of racism for a Thursday blog post that blames China’s ruling party for the coronavirus pandemic, an echo of widely criticized rhetoric employed by President Donald Trump.

“Let’s be clear: the coronavirus plague facing us comes exclusively as a courtesy of the Chinese Communist Party,” Coleman, who’s also running for the 4th Congressional District seat, wrote on her campaign page. “No Communist China, no crisis.”

The West Jordan Republican wrote that Chinese officials “lied and dissembled” about the virus, costing the rest of the world weeks of precious preparation time.

Multiple Twitter users condemned her blog post and accompanying tweet as racist and irresponsible, especially in light of recent xenophobic attacks targeting the Asian community.

“Kim, this tweet is both racist and disgusting,” wrote Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah. “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.”

Darlene McDonald, an author and activist, responded that Coleman has an obligation as a public official to be conscientious about the language she uses.

“With this, you are contributing to the outbreak of racist and xenophobic attacks against innocent Americans,” McDonald wrote.

Trump has taken to calling the coronavirus the “Chinese Virus," in spite of growing criticism from those who say the term is bigoted and will only escalate tensions between the U.S. and China. The president has denied that the label is racist.

Coleman’s blog post — topped by a crossed-out hammer and sickle — argues that United States must end its reliance on China for pharmaceuticals and praised Trump for speaking out against America’s dependence on the foreign power.

“Trump’s 2020 reelection can’t come soon enough, and he needs allies like me in Congress to help him implement the lifesaving America First agenda,” Coleman concluded.

She did not immediately return a message requesting comment.

Coleman is running to unseat Rep. Ben McAdams, Utah’s only Democratic congressional representative. McAdams announced Wednesday evening that he has tested positive for the coronavirus and is in a self-imposed quarantine.

The Republican primary in the 4th District race also includes Kathleen Anderson, former Davis County GOP official and past president of the Utah Federation of Republican Women; former radio host Jay McFarland; Cindy Thompson and Burgess Owens, an author and former NFL player.

Democrat Daniel Beckstrand and Libertarian John Molnar also have filed their candidacies in the race.

This story will be updated.