On Friday, March 26, Ohio's Republican Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted made headlines when he tweeted a racist message spreading anti-Asian hate.
Husted tweeted an article featuring former CDC director Robert Redfield's personal belief—supported by zero evidence—the viral pathogen behind the global pandemic "escaped" from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
He also wrote in the tweet:
"So it appears it was the Wuhan Virus after all?"
So it appears it was the Wuhan Virus after all? https://t.co/zmimtlZ9Ev Ex-CDC director says he believes coronavi… https://t.co/mzJ0ZMaoCa— Jon Husted (@Jon Husted) 1616793073.0
Many were flabbergasted Husted would choose this moment, following the murders of six Asian women in Georgia, to double down on such racially charged unsupported rhetoric.
@JonHusted Asian-Americans are getting killed because of rhetoric like this. You represent my state. Do better.— Dr. Tara C. Smith (@Dr. Tara C. Smith) 1616794173.0
@JonHusted https://t.co/qAsp0RP6z2— jonathan (@jonathan) 1616802216.0
@JonHusted We’re trying to tamp down violence Asian Americans, John. You’re doing the opposite here.— MommaOgress (@MommaOgress) 1616794204.0
Twitter wanted Husted to delete the tweet.
Many called for his resignation.
@JonHusted Pretend you’re better and delete this.— Ross (@Ross) 1616801341.0
@JonHusted Thank you for showing your true colors 🥰— Ohio Warren Dems (@Ohio Warren Dems) 1616796629.0
Husted then attempted to backtrack on his first tweet, saying his intention was only to criticize the Chinese government.
To be clear, the tweet above referred only to the Chinese GOVERNMENT. A government of oppression that imprisons peo… https://t.co/aP6LFT7lJ9— Jon Husted (@Jon Husted) 1616854809.0
Would anyone be shocked to learn they also lied about a communicable disease that caused a pandemic?— Jon Husted (@Jon Husted) 1616854809.0
For many, however, Husted's explanation didn't ring true.
Especially when such afterthought context would likely be ignored by large swaths of his base.
People are dead because of statements like this, Lieutenant Governor. It doesn’t matter if you “meant the Chinese g… https://t.co/xO1qjbmDHs— ari (@ari) 1617045387.0
Imagine being the lieutenant governor of a state and still being so ignorant about anti-asian violence throughout t… https://t.co/he4NKpxImV— Russ Hall (@Russ Hall) 1616983764.0
People are dead from tweets like these that are taken as tacit permission. No amount of explanation excuses this re… https://t.co/SHCYdJsiU7— Dalton Boszé (@Dalton Boszé) 1616897121.0
Prior to being criticized for racist tweets, Husted drew frequent backlash for his Anti-LGBTQ+ views.
Hey Jon, it appears that you’re a racist. https://t.co/dKAt3Cjxz4— Upstate Green Party (@Upstate Green Party) 1616889663.0
Resign. Your disgusting racist hate & deliberate misinformation has no place in this country. @LtGovHusted… https://t.co/EuqMthkTbe— Columbus Alleyways (@Columbus Alleyways) 1616886605.0
What a disgrace. https://t.co/HUwkdavFCT— AdammitMayfieldTakeOffWithIt (@AdammitMayfieldTakeOffWithIt) 1616888368.0
Despite what he claims, Husted is well aware as a public official health experts have strongly discouraged leaders from using terms like "Wuhan virus" since they tend to stigmatize people of Asian descent.
Husted ignored this wisdom to quickly "own the libs" and may have put his own Asian constituents in danger in the process.