- Two days after the Atlanta shootings, the House held a hearing to address anti-Asian violence.
- One Republican lawmaker pointed the finger at China and invoked a saying glorifying lynchings.
- Democrats zeroed in on Trump’s rhetoric and witnesses described the US’s history of scapegoating immigrants.
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A House judiciary subcommittee held a hearing Thursday to address discrimination and violence against Asian-Americans. The nonprofit organization Stop AAPI Hate has documented nearly 3,800 incidents of physical assault, shunning, verbal and online harassment, and civil rights violations against the AAPI community in the US since March 2020, when COVID-19 cases began to surge.
In addition to taking place amid a spike in anti-Asian violence across the country, Thursday’s hearing came days after a series of deadly shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women. Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man, has been arrested and charged with murder in connection to the shootings.
Here are 5 key moments from Thursday’s hearing
Rep. Chip Roy employed whataboutism to point the finger at China.
- “I think the Chinese Communist Party running the country of China, I think they are the bad guys,” the Texas Republican said. “I think that they are harming people and I think they are engaging in modern day slavery.”
- What they are doing to Uighurs … what they are doing targeting our country … what they are doing to undermine our national security, and what they are doing to steal our intellectual property, and what they are doing to build up their military and rattle throughout the Pacific, I think it’s patently evil and deserving of condemnation,” he added. “And I think that what they did to hide the reality of this virus is equally deserving of condemnation.”
Roy quoted an old saying glorifying lynchings at a hearing about racist violence.
- All “victims of race-based violence and their families deserve justice,” Roy said. He then tacked on: “There’s old sayings in Texas about find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree. You know, we take justice very seriously, and we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys.”
-Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 18, 2021
Rep. Grace Meng grew emotional while firing back at Roy.
- “Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don’t have to do it by putting a bullseye on the back of Asian-Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids,” Meng said.
- The New York congresswoman choked up as she continued, “This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community and to find solutions, and we will not let you take our voice away from us.”
Democrats accuse Trump and Republicans of fueling anti-Asian hate by using inflammatory rhetoric about COVID-19.
- Several Democratic lawmakers skewered the former president and his allies for using terms like “Wuhan virus,” “China virus,” and “Kung flu” to describe the coronavirus pandemic.
- “As we look at the outrage, let me put into the record: the 45th president always referred to coronavirus as the ‘China virus’ or ‘Kung flu,'” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. “Let me call his name: President Trump.”
- “The rise of hate crimes against Asian-Americans is inherently tied to anti-Asian American rhetoric, some of which has come out of this very chamber,” said freshman congresswoman Cori Bush. She went on to say that when such rhetoric is used by historically privileged groups, they “have to own that it causes harm to people, especially people of color” because there are “lives at stake.”
Witnesses highlighted the US’s long history of scapegoating immigrants and minorities in times of crisis.
- “As shocking as these incidents are, it is so vital to understand that they are not random acts perpetrated by deranged individuals,” said Erika Lee, a professor of history and Asian-American studies at the University of Minnesota. “They are an expression of our country’s long history of systemic racism targeting Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.”
- “We have heard in the past 24 hours many describe anti-Asian discrimination and racial violence as un-American,” she added. “Unfortunately, it is very American.”