At the behest of absolutely no one, a GOP congressman from Texas chose an anti-Asian discrimination and violence hearing two days after murders in Georgia that left six Asian women and two others dead to extol the virtue of lynchings.
During a House Judiciary Committee meeting Thursday, Rep. Chip Roy said Texans “believe in justice” while simultaneously invoking the imagery of one of America’s most unjust legacies.
“There’s old sayings in Texas about ‘Find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree,’” Roy said Wednesday during the House Judiciary Committee meeting. “We take justice very seriously, and we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys. That’s what we believe.”
On Tuesday eight people were killed and another was injured after a suspect is alleged to have bought a gun and targeted three spas in the Atlanta area. Most of the victims were Asian women.
The suspect, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, told investigators that he his attacks weren’t racially motivated. But Asian-American, migrant, and sex worker advocates have all called that account into question.
After praising mob justice that has historically resulted in the killings of people of color, Roy pivoted to dismissing the hearing focused on anti-Asian discrimination as being somehow against the First Amendment, and tried to tie that idea to being against criminal justice.
"My concern about this hearing is it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric in a free society, free speech, and away from the rule of law, taking out bad guys,” Roy added.
According to Roy, these “bad guys'' include the Chinese government, which he referred to as “Chi-Coms.”
As if Roy’s point wasn’t convoluted enough, it was also patently ahistorical. Lynchings are not, in fact, complimentary to the “rule of law.” The 1871 “Chinese Massacre” in Los Angeles, in which at least 17 Asian immigrants were hanged, was one of the worst mass lynchings in U.S. history.
There have been at least 3,795 “hate incidents” of anti-Asian discrimination reported since the pandemic began in the U.S., the group Stop AAPI Hate said in a report released Tuesday. That same day,
Former President Donald Trump often referred to COVID-19—which he repeatedly downplayed even as hundreds of Americans died on his watch—as the “Chinese virus” and “kung flu.” Current White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said this week that there was “no question” that Trump’s statements “led to perceptions of the Asian American community that are inaccurate, unfair,” and that they “elevated threats against Asian Americans.”
House Democrats, including some of Asian-American descent, blasted Roy during Thursday’s hearing.
“Your president, 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 bull’s eye on the back of Asian Americans across the country, on our grandparents, on our kids,” Rep. Grace Meng of New York told Roy. “This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community to find solutions, and we will not let you take our voice away from us.”
Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, poured cold water on Roy’s theory that the hearing was an attack on free speech.
“It’s not about policing speech. I served in active duty, so you can say whatever you want on the First Amendment,” Lieu said. “You can say racist, stupid stuff if you want. But I’m asking you to please stop using racist terms like ‘kung flu’ or ‘Wuhan virus’ or other ethnic identifiers and describe them as virus.”
Despite calls for Roy to apologize following his comments about lynching, and derision of the importance of a hearing about anti-Asian racism, he has refused to do so.
“We need more justice and less thought policing,” Roy said in a statement to the Daily Caller. “We should restore order by tamping out evil actors, not turn America into an authoritarian state like the Chinese communists who seek to destroy us.”
“No apologies,” Roy added.