Along with the video – in which actor Ralph Macchio’s head has been replaced by President Donald Trump’s and his Cobra Kai nemesis’ head has been replaced with an image of the coronavirus and a Chinese flag – Mr Trump Jr posted “Hahahahaha ‘The Kung-Flu-Kid.’”
While the video is mostly mindless – Vice President Mike Pence stands in for Mister Miyagi and Joe Biden is inexplicably the leader of Cobra Kai, suggesting he is both the master of China and the coronavirus – it reflects the Trump administration’s broader policy stance that the coronavirus is the fault of the Chinese and that the US is a victim.
Mr Trump has taken to calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus” and his officials have picked up on the messaging.
Earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that G7 leaders call the virus the “Wuhan virus” during a video conference the group held after cancelling its summit in Pittsburgh.
The leaders refused and said they’d follow the World Health Organisations’ lead and call it Covid-19.
While arguing about what to call the virus may seem trivial when millions of lives are at stake, the language may be at the root of more than just hurt feelings.
CBS reporter Weijia Jiang said that a White House staffer used the same term Mr Trump Jr used – “Kung-Flu” – to describe the coronavirus. Activists have argued that the term is an anti-Asian slur, and have pointed out that violent attacks of Asian-Americans have increased dramatically since the virus began to spread in the US.
“Since January, we’ve been expressing concern about anti-Asian sentiment and people using terms that are not recognised by the medical experts for Covid-19, and to avoid terms that stigmatise communities, such as ‘Kung Flu’ or the ‘Chinese virus,’” John Yang, president of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said.
Mr Yang said his organization has recorded 400 violent incidents against Asian-Americans in the last 21 days.
“We’re not just talking about racial epithets, racial slurs, which obviously for our community is bad enough,” he said. “We’re talking about physical violence, we’re talking about people getting kicked, people getting punched, people getting physically assaulted. Only for the fact that they are Asian American, and there is this perception and misinformation out there about what coronavirus really is.”
“It’s not racist at all, no,” Mr Trump told reporters during a meeting of the coronavirus task force last week. “It comes from China. I want to be accurate.”
Speaking to USA Today, Gordon H Chang, a history professor at Stanford University, suggested the insistence by Mr Trump and his officials in using language blaming China and the Chinese was purely in the service of politics and blame-dodging.
“It’s an effective political way to rally people, deflect the attention away from his administration’s response to this crisis, find a scapegoat and continue this hostility of blaming climate change, trade wars and no disease on China,” he said. “These are not words that are just plucked out of the blue but they’re part of a pattern that’s been going on for a long time to vilify China.”
Mr Trump has previously said the “world is paying a big price for what they did,” and during the G7 meeting earlier this week Mr Pompeo spent significant time railing against what he called a “disinformation campaign” by the Chinese to present themselves as benevolent helpers during the pandemic.