Marsha Blackburn’s Stop COVID Act Is Rooted In Xenophobia

Sarah Midkiff

As the Senate came back into session on Monday, Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn is among three Republican members of congress, including Arizona Senator Martha McSally and Sen. Steve Daines from Montana, to introduce the Stop COVID Act. The proposal attempts to hold China accountable for the spread of coronavirus by allowing the American people to sue the Chinese Communist Party in U.S. Court.

Blackburn tweeted a promotional video for the proposed piece of legislation. In her message, she established that — in conjunction with McSally and Daines — she believes China knowingly withheld information about the severity of the virus and should be held accountable as a result. In the video, Blackburn says that “China is not our friend. They are our enemy.” She even goes as far as to say that China “sent this virus to us.”

“The Chinese Communist Party must face consequences for its role in the origin and spread of the coronavirus,” Senator Blackburn said in a press release published April 20. “Under this legislation, Americans will have the opportunity to take China to court in the U.S. and demand accountability for their lies and deceit.”

The press release explains that the Stop COVID Act intends to make China legally and financially liable for “unleashing the COVID-19 infection on our country.” The legislation would build on existing law to eliminate sovereign immunity for states that spread biological agents.” China should be forced to pay the costs of these damages to the American people,” the press release continues.

In multiple television appearances since the April 20 legislation announcement, Blackburn references the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act as the cornerstone of the Stop COVID Act. Passed in 1976, this act establishes whether a foreign sovereign nation may be sued in U.S. courts. However, past iterations of this have included restoring ownership of Nazi-seized paintings, whereas Blackburn’s initiative stands to attack the entire Chinese government on grounds that they brought the novel coronavirus to America.

“We know that China has tried to rewrite history to say it didn’t come from them,” said Blackburn during an interview with Fox’s Neil Cavuto. “The world knows it did come from them. And individuals who have lost family members, who have lost their livelihoods…they should have the ability to go to court with the right of action. U.S. Courts have jurisdiction over this. We know that DOJ [Department of Justice] is looking at how they approach China on this. But citizens need the ability to recoup what they have lost or to receive remuneration.”

This motion also follows serious backlash from the public after multiple Republican party leaders referred to coronavirus with racist monikers — like “Chinese Virus” and “Kung Flu” — early on. Many fear that this act will only perpetuate that level of discrimination, and as a result, “Marsha” began trending on Twitter. Many Twitter users responded with a similar sentiment – you can’t “Karen” your way out of a global pandemic.

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