Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » CNN: Rodney Davis claims that saying “Kung flu” no different than saying “UK variant”
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CNN: Rodney Davis claims that saying “Kung flu” no different than saying “UK variant”

Friday, Mar 19, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’m curious if Rodney has noticed during his trips to Chambana that the UIUC campus has lots of Asian and Asian-American students who are helping that place thrive. CNN…

Yeah, that’ll work well in a statewide general.


Following public reports highlighting Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis’ defense of offensive remarks from his colleagues regarding violence and racism against Asian-Americans, President Kristina Zahorik of the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association (IDCCA) released the following statement.

“Inflammatory and xenophobic language from elected officials is part of the problem. Our organization has said it before and we will say it again: words matter, particularly from those who were elected to lead by example. Rodney Davis’ decision to double-down on offensive and dangerous rhetoric while the country mourns and confronts violence and discrimination against Asian-Americans is troubling. Rodney Davis should apologize, and work to set an example for his constituents by being part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

Davis’ remarks came in defense of Texas Congressman Chip Roy who referenced hanging criminals from a tree — lynching — during a House Judiciary Committee Hearing on the rise of anti-Asian American violence and discrimination. Per CNN, Davis said the “relation between rhetoric and hate crimes against Asian Americans is ‘all political correctness.’ Davis instead said phrases like ‘Kung flu’ or ‘China virus’ are no different than saying ‘UK variant.’”

…Adding… DPI…

The following statement is from Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, in response to the comments made by Congressman Rodney Davis in which he likened condemnation of hate speech to mere “political correctness.”

“It is offensive for Rep. Rodney Davis to dismiss condemnation of hate speech as ‘political correctness.’ Eight people are dead, Asian Americans throughout our country have experienced an increase in hate crimes in the last year and our fellow citizens are traumatized. Rodney Davis has to choose if he is going to be part of the solution or will he continue to contribute to the problem? Let’s stop with the reckless and hateful rhetoric.”


  1. - NIU Grad - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 11:55 am:

    This is your brain on Trumpism.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 11:59 am:

    Sometimes you can’t help racist thoughts you want to normalize?

    Rodney voted twice… twice… against impeaching Trump.

    I’d be more surprised if Rodney hadn’t embraced a racist trope of Trump.

  3. - 47th Ward - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:01 pm:

    And he seriously believes that.

    Not surprised. Glad he’s exposing himself.

  4. - Perrid - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:04 pm:

    Oi. You might have gotten away with calling it the “Wuhan virus” or something before Trump started in on it, but “Kung flu” is a terrible pun on “Kung fu”, so it’s stereotyping all Chinese people.

    We do name diseases after where they’re discovered, Ebola is named after the Ebola river for example, but when you spend months blaming Chinese and Asian people for the virus, you can’t argue that associating the name of the virus with China isn’t meant to be accusatory and prejudiced. You can’t ignore all of the rhetoric surrounding the labeling if you’re arguing in good faith.

  5. - Omay - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:04 pm:

    It’s amazing to look through the white colored sunglasses.

  6. - Sir Reel - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:05 pm:

    As the saying goes, sometimes it’s better to say nothing than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.

  7. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:11 pm:

    I remember when Rodney pretended to be a serious person. What the heck happened to that guy. Unreal.

  8. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:13 pm:

    Maybe Davis should ask Tammy Duckworth if it’s the same.

    Maybe publicly.

  9. - Former Downstater - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:13 pm:

    I absolutely love when straight white men tell us that their words don’t mean anything. Don’t tell us what your words mean to us.

  10. - Hon Don Gerard - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:14 pm:

    The City of Champaign is 13% Asian (not counting international students), I believe.

  11. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:15 pm:

    How does Rodney feel about lynching, which his GOP caucus member Chip Roy suggested doing yesterday?

  12. - Pundent - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:15 pm:

    So Davis is using an argument of nuance to justify his racist rhetoric? Interesting approach.

  13. - Northsider - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:20 pm:

    Once again, Rodney Davis shows his true color.

  14. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:21 pm:

    =Maybe Davis should ask Tammy Duckworth if it’s the same.

    Maybe publicly.=

    Senator Duckworth just said she will be calling Congressman Davis and telling him that calling it the Kung Flu is racist.

  15. - Norseman - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:27 pm:

    No 47, he doesn’t really believe that. Davis is simply going full Trump to remain relevant in the party. Not only is he supporting the party’s hateful speech, he’s a vocal whiner about security measures to stop fellow GQP members from carrying guns on the floor. He also went with the gang in supporting their Q member.

  16. - Anon221 - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:27 pm:

    IF he’s able to run again after whatever redistricting gets done, I hope whoever runs against him using that in messaging against him. Truly, truly reprehensible (banned punctuation). His smugness and arrogance is unreal.

  17. - Moe Berg - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:29 pm:

    Doesn’t Rodney have a lot of constituents who make a living selling soybeans and pork products to China?

    After Jan. 6, and watching the unseemly display on the IL House floor last night, it’s going to be pretty interesting to see how much corporate donors and their executives want to continue opening their wallets for those who think they can “do a racism” with impunity and to do so for those defending the racism doers.

    A company or exec trying to do a deal with China wants to have to explain why they are financially supporting the likes of Rodney Davis?

    Racism and xenophobia is not the way, GOP. You’ve gone down a very dark path.

  18. - Rich Miller - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:30 pm:

    ===No 47, he doesn’t really believe that.===

    When people tell you who they are, you should believe them.

  19. - So Ill 1969 - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:37 pm:

    @Former Downstater
    “Don’t tell us what your words mean to us.”
    Who are you to tell someone what their words mean? Your interpretation of someone’s intent, or your feelings, does not change the intent. Your interpretation may change the impact, but intent comes from the speaker.

  20. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:39 pm:

    @Moe - =Doesn’t Rodney have a lot of constituents who make a living selling soybeans and pork products to China?=

    You have to like the people you sell your product too? I’ll give you a hundred coffee shops and cafes to visit to get a feel of how that comment plays to that crowd.

  21. - Unconventionalwisdom - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:40 pm:

    I would personally agree that saying the China Virus is no different than saying the UK Variant.
    Both refer to the disease and the nation.

    However Kung flu is obviously pejorative and if I need to explain why to anyone they are part of the problem.

  22. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:40 pm:

    === Who are you to tell someone what their words mean? Your interpretation of someone’s intent===

    “Kung Flu” virus… you don’t think it’s racist thinking?


    The intent is to signal racist thinking folks it’s acceptable to use this racist trope.

    That’s the only intent.

    Anything less than that intent means Davis is far too ignorant to things to be a member of congress, or lacks the capacity to reason that words matter.

    That clear enough?

  23. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:47 pm:

    “relation between rhetoric and hate crimes against Asian Americans is ‘all political correctness”

    Davis should go to an Asian community and ask how people feel about this. Elected politicians set examples for others to follow, just by the nature of their positions, so they share responsibility for hate crimes when they stoke or condone racism. Good luck running for statewide office.

  24. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:52 pm:

    ===- So Ill 1969 - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:37 pm:===
    ===but intent comes from the speaker. ===

    So if the intent comes from the speaker, and the speaker is relying on cultural and racial stereotypes that are considered to be offensive and have been associated with violence towards specific ethnic or racial groups, how exactly does that make for a positive intent?

    “Not actually from Texas” Congressman Chip Roy made a reference to extrajudicial killings that largely targeted Blacks and Hispanics, and a mob murdering an innocent person. What’s the good intent here? What’s the good intent of the defense?

    “UK Variant” is explicitly different than “Kung Flu.”

    We’re saying UK Variant instead of “Cockney Covid” “Lobster Flu” or the “Limey Plague” or the “Royal Strain.”

    You’ve got some explaining to do in order to explain how the intent is good, because to me it’s pretty clear the intent is bad, and some white guy is trying to gaslight the targets of his party’s racist rhetoric by claiming it isn’t racist.

    If you want to be Racist Rodney’s apologist, tell us how this demonstrates good intent.

  25. - Former Downstater - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:52 pm:

    ==Your interpretation may change the impact, but intent comes from the speaker.==

    If the speaker isn’t willing to realize how their words impact or offend others than they’re telling them the interpretation is correct. Decent people will take people’s feelings into consideration, racists don’t care.

  26. - Collinsville Kevin - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:56 pm:

    Rodney Davis, my representative. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

  27. - Lincoln Lad - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:56 pm:

    How did we get here? Racist comments routinely made. Racist comments routinely defended. White supremacists breaching the Capitol. How did we get here? How did this all become ok to so many?

  28. - don the legend - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 1:00 pm:

    My goodness, Rodney really is a grassbowl.

  29. - Narc - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 1:00 pm:

    “ I would personally agree that saying the China Virus is no different than saying the UK Variant.”

    I argue that the two are very different. We already had perfectly good names for this virus “the novel coronavirus”, COVID-19, etc. The reason that Republicans — and it seems to be almost exclusively Republicans — call it the “China virus” is because they are attempting to assign *blame* for spreading the virus to China. Specifically they are trying to assign blame to “the CCP”, a term for the Chinese government is never heard used before COVID became a problem.

    Even if calling it the “China virus” was being done in good faith, continuing to do so in the face of a rash of hate crimes against AAPI, is inexcusable. It’s not like we’re seeing hate crimes against British nationals increase.

  30. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 1:01 pm:

    - Unconventionalwisdom - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 12:40 pm:

    “Spanish Flu” started in the United States and COVID mutations across the globe have been independently found in the US, so even by your own standard saying “Location Virus” is wrong.

  31. - Downstate - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 1:03 pm:

    Classic Rodney response too. No apology, mention the baseball shooting, and shift the blame to the media or Dems. Trump would be so proud.

  32. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 1:05 pm:

    Rodney is now in meltdown mode

  33. - Manchester - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 1:09 pm:

    Once again Rodney Davis proves who he really is,a smarmy little far right bigot trying to pull off a conservative regular guy image. What a tool.

  34. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 1:10 pm:

    When Rodney Davis goes full Jeanne Ives for the racist thinkers of Illinois?

    Has Davis owned this and apologized… or…

  35. - Narc - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 1:11 pm:

    Don’t forget, at one of his “it’s an Open Government Night, not a town hall” events, Davis claimed the *sole* cause of all mass shootings was “undiagnosed mental illness.”

  36. - levivotedforjudy - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 1:24 pm:

    He should heed the advice you get when you go to the movies - Silence is Golden.

  37. - ILLAnnoyed - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 1:26 pm:

    Once again Rodney and his team show their true colors. The racism and tone deaf rhetoric from him and his camp don’t stop. Racism seems to be the feature of that operation, not the bug.

  38. - Commisar Gritty - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 1:32 pm:

    We knew Rodney Davis was terrible when he repeatedly voted to strip the majority of his constituents healthcare away. He continued to prove us right when he sent his lacky to get wasted and cause a scene at his opponent’s fundraiser. He continues to disperse all doubts as he defends the racist and violence causing qanon nuttery in his party.

    Long story short, he has lost all credibility awhile ago and may have been the first invertebrate Illinois sent to Congress.

  39. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 1:43 pm:

    Rodney Davis needs a spine transplant…desperately.

    Rodney Davis goes weak in the knees when Trump’s name is spoken…still.

    Has he denied his racist statements?…No?…yeah.

  40. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 1:52 pm:

    Any speaker, especially a public speaker, needs to focus on what his audience hears. There are many words and phrases I no longer use. Their meaning has changed to my listeners.

  41. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 2:22 pm:

    When Davis pivots to the Scalise shooting (invariably) he always seems to be the focus of the story… rather than the actual victim.

    Like Maya Angelou said (and Rich reiterated), “When people tell you who they are, believe them”…for sure.

  42. - Steve Rogers - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 2:42 pm:

    This isn’t anything new from Rodney, and he still won reelection four months ago by 30,000 votes.

  43. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 2:59 pm:

    Other than for crassly political reasons (to appease the extreme wing of his voters), why would anyone defend such language? Has he no decency? Apparently not.

  44. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 3:01 pm:

    In communication, context matters.

    Google “Yelling fire in a crowded theatre” if you are truly unclear on the context.

    “Kung flu” and “China virus” are uttered in the context of false claims that the Chinese government is responsible for creating the virus, and debunked claims of Chinese interference in our elections, and a trade war blaming the loss of American manufacturing jobs on China, and a history of prolific Racism against the Chinese people in this country that dates back to the mid-1800’s, formally recognized as the racist ideology “The Yellow Peril” in the late 1800’s:

  45. - Shytown - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 3:08 pm:

    If Davis and Bailey are the best the GOP got for Gov in 2022, this will be a cakewalk for Pritzker.

  46. - Larry - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 3:42 pm:

    It is not just the words, but the way they were said by our former president. Maybe we could have gotten away with him just calling it the “china virus”, but the emphasis and then adding other adjectives made clear that he was trying to incite hatred among the listener. Davis should be (but I am sure won’t be) ashamed of himself.

  47. - Arsenal - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 3:45 pm:

    ==Who are you to tell someone what their words mean?==

    Words have consensus meanings. If I call you a jerk, you’re not gonna feel any better if I try to post hoc it with, “But see, to me, ‘Jerk’ is a term of endearment!” Intent doesn’t matter. Everyone’s got good intentions.

  48. - Snarkie from Schaumburg - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 3:49 pm:

    As a famous cartoon character once said, “I yam what I yam” Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  49. - Anyone Remember - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 3:57 pm:

    Politics using the Ray Kroc approach.

  50. - OurMagician - Friday, Mar 19, 21 @ 4:20 pm:

    When I saw this, I wondered how long it would be before he brought up being shot at on a softball field, Rodney never disappoints.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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