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Anti-Asian Actions Condemned By Congress After Incidents Surge

May 18, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
Rally for Asian American Women in Chinatown, San Francisco. (Andrew Ratto via Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON — Congress weighed in Monday on a surge in Asian hate crimes since the COVID-19 pandemic started with a resolution that condemns the stinging words and actions behind the incidents.

The resolution, H.R. 275, “reaffirms the commitment of the United States federal government to combat hate, bigotry and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.”

The resolution is not intended to enact new law, merely reinforce the need for vigilance against ethnic hatred.

“Hate and intolerance have no place in our country,” said Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Mass., chairman of the House Rules Committee.

Much of the discussion during the committee’s hearing on the resolution focused on the March 16 shootings at three Asian-owned spas in Atlanta, Ga. A young man shot and killed eight people and injured one.

Six of the deceased victims were Asian American women.

The resolution lamented the loss of each of them, including “49-year-old Xiaojie ‘Emily’ Tan, a hardworking mother and the owner of one of the spas,” who was described in the text as “a dedicated and caring business owner who is survived by her daughter and husband.”

Similar incidents tied to a roughly 150% increase in Asian hate crimes in the past year have “caused many Asian Americans across the United States to feel fearful and unsafe,” the resolution says.

It was timed to coincide with a new report last week from the nonprofit advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate, which showed the number of ethnic incidents that targeted Asians rose from 3,795 in March of last year to 6,603 in March of this year. AAPI stands for Asian American and Pacific Islander.

Some of the more alarming statistics in the report showed that physical assaults increased from 10.2% of the total hate incidents in 2020 to 16.7% in 2021.

“Online hate incidents increased from 5.6% in 2020 to 10.2% in 2021,” the group’s annual report says. “More incidents occurred in public streets (35.4% in 2021 compared to 26% in 2020), schools (9.7% in 2021 compared to 8% in 2020) and places of worship (1.7% in 2021 compared to 0.6% in 2020).”

It also included stories from individual victims, such as a Beverly Hills, Calif., woman who wrote, “My boyfriend and I were walking back home through the back alleyway attached to our complex. Two white men, who park back there and live nearby, tried to hit us with their car. We jumped out of the way and they missed us by inches. They then stopped and yelled out of the window at us ‘Go back to China!’ three times along with profanity.”

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., described the House resolution as winning broad support in Congress.

“Certainly these are sentiments that all members share,” he said about the condemnation of ethnic hatred.

However, one congressman criticized the procedure for presenting H.R. 275 before the House Rules Committee.

It was written by Democrats and rushed into a hearing without an opportunity for amendments, such as from Republicans, said Rep. Patrick Fallon, R-Texas. 

As a result, Fallon said it allowed partisan language to creep into it.

One part of the resolution appears to refer to language used by former President Donald Trump when it said that “the use of anti-Asian terminology and rhetoric related to COVID–19, such as the ‘Chinese virus’, ‘Wuhan virus’, and ‘kung flu’, has perpetuated anti-Asian stigma that has resulted in Asian Americans being harassed, assaulted, and scapegoated for the COVID–19 pandemic.”

Otherwise, Fallon also condemned Asian hate when he said, “Asian Americans have demonstrated great character.”    

Congress

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