Why does he have to use this nickname? Donald Trump is known for labeling his foes with monikers that are repeated over and over in the media. These range from the humorous to the macabre. Sometimes they are construed as racist.
This is the situation Trump finds himself in with Elaine Chao, the former Republican Secretary of Transportation in his administration and the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, another Trump enemy.
Has Donald Trump Gone Too Far? Yes.
This time the nickname is more than just an annoyance for Chao. It is particularly hurtful. Donald Trump calls her “Coco Chow.” This bizarre name-calling has something to do with Chao’s supposed connections to China, which I will explain shortly.
But Chao is actually Taiwanese and left her home country for America when she was a child.
It’s Not a Happy Time for Asian-Americans
The “Coco” nickname has been difficult for Chao, who has pointed out that Asian-Americans have often been the victim of hate crimes and assaults on the streets across the country, especially since the pandemic began.
Donald Trump appears to be fueling this fire in his broadsides against Chao. There have been recent mass shootings involving Asian-Americans too.
So, the insults come at a bad time – to say the least.
Donald Trump: What Did He Say Now?
Trump is trying to connect Chao with the Biden classified documents scandal in another strange slur against her. He wrote the following on Truth Social January 23:
“Does Coco Chow have anything to do with Joe Biden’s Classified Documents being sent and stored in Chinatown?” Trump said. “Her husband, the Old Broken Crow, is VERY close to Biden, the Democrats, and, of course, China.”
Another Misleading Attack by Donald Trump
These are accusations that are astonishing in their intensity but are both somewhat true and somewhat false in a missive that only Donald Trump can construct. He is known for muddying the water with misleading claims. The Chao China connection has to do with her father’s shipping company that does business with China.
Chao’s Connections to Her Father’s Firm
This company was publicized in a New York Times article that said Chao and McConnell have “received millions in gifts” from Chao’s father, who runs the Foremost Group, a global shipper based in New York. The Times admitted that Chao has “no formal affiliation or stake in the company.”
But What Does It Even Mean?
She Can’t Take It Lying Down Anymore
Chao and McConnell have often turned the other cheek with these insults. Chao has implored the media not to write about her nickname from Trump, in order to refrain from amplifying it. It doesn’t seem to matter that Chao and McConnell are Republicans. We know Donald Trump can carry a grudge for real and perceived disloyal actions against him. Chao resigned her position in 2021 to protest against the January 6 insurrection, and Trump has never forgiven her.
Sadly She Has Dealt with Discrimination Before
Chao replied in a statement to Politico on January 25 that Trump’s remarks reveal “a whole lot more about him than it will ever say about Asian-Americans.”
“When I was young, some people deliberately misspelled or mispronounced my name. Asian-Americans have worked hard to change that experience for the next generation,” she said.
Groundbreaking Personal Story
Chao was the first Asian-American woman to serve as a cabinet member when she became Secretary of Labor for President George W. Bush.
Trump’s Camp Says It is About China, Not Race
Donald Trump has a spokesman named Steven Cheung, who happens to be Asian-American too. Cheung claimed that Trump’s attacks on Chao have nothing to do with racism and everything to do with her family’s financial ties to China.
Trump probably won’t quit calling her “Coco Chow,” which shows racial insensitivity at best and pure racism at worst. Chao has made her opposition to these comments clear. She will likely have to continue to take the high road as Donald Trump takes the low and hope the former president will move on to the next person to insult.
Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.