LANSING — Earlier this week, Republican Majority Leader Mike Shirkey appeared on JTV’s Bart Hawley show and doubled down on his original racist description of COVID-19made months prior on the same show, when he said: “The Chinese flu army sent in one of their best soldiers. His name was Rona.”

Bart Hawley said to Shirkey earlier this week, “At the time when you revealed that you had had [COVID-19] you called it ‘China flu.’ Do you regret that you did that?”

Shirkey responded: “Not at all. Not at all. Nope. It’s where it came from.”

Chad Livengood with Crain’s Detroit described the answer as “doubling down on xenophobic blame for how the coronavirus has ravaged our state and nation for the past year.”

Passing casual racist rhetoric off as ultimately harmless ignores the real world dangers of what happens when that sentiment goes unchecked. Over the past year, Anti-Asian hate crimes have risen by nearly 150%. The day after Shirkey’s comment, a white male shooter targeted Asian women in Atlanta, killing six.

“Mike Shirkey is already making this pandemic more painful than it has to be by holding up critical funding for Michigan schools and working families,” said Rodericka Applewhaite, MDP spokesperson. “Now, he’s doubling down on white supremacist rhetoric that has served as the basis for racially motivated attacks like this week’s tragedy in Atlanta. If the timing of Shirkey’s comment and that shooting seems convenient, you simply haven’t been paying attention to the fact that racist comments are his first resort. He should immediately walk back and apologize for his statements.”

Gov. Whitmer responded to the “heartbreaking and horrifying” shooting yesterday.

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