A House Judiciary Subcommittee held a hearing on Wednesday targeting anti-Asian discrimination days after a mass shooter killed six women of Asian descent and two others in Atlanta-area spas.
Republicans stuck to their usual grievance politics — hiding behind free speech, glorifying lynching and wringing their hands over the dangers of curtailing First Amendment rights. Democrats, meanwhile, insisted that racist and xenophobic rhetoric coming from the “highest levels of government” has prompted acts of violence against Asian Americans during the pandemic that cannot be characterized as random.
House Judiciary Committee members such as Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) tied the surge of violence against Asian Americans in recent years to former President Trump’s derogatory remarks, specifically in his rhetoric about the origins of the pandemic. Trump and his allies in Congress have repeatedly deployed xenophobic references to COVID-19 seemingly to deflect blame from Trump’s disastrous response to the pandemic.
In powerful testimony, witnesses also demonstrated how that effort harkens back to a long and systemic history of institutionalized racism against people of Asian descent. Witnesses such as Stanford Law professor Shirin Sinner and actor Daniel Dae Kim called out Trump and his allies for their incendiary rhetoric by arguing that the normalization of xenopobic language led to the surge of violent attacks against the Asian American community.