At a House hearing last week, Republican congressman Chip Roy made an argument for free speech and attacked China for the coronavirus.
Roy, as a former prosecutor, said he wanted to take out the “bad guys,” and called the Chinese Communist Party “the bad guys,” “patently evil” and listed a series of policy criticisms with the Chinese government, including its treatment of the Uyghurs, the theft of American intellectual property, the build up of its military and China’s lack of transparency over the origins and spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The only problem with bringing all that up is that the hearing wasn’t about China, the coronavirus, the Uyghurs, the theft of American intellectual property, or the build up of China’s military. It was a hearing on discrimination and increased violence against Asian Americans. The hearing was scheduled before the shootings in Atlanta that left eight people dead, including six Asian women.
Chip Roy said, “The victims of race-based violence and their families deserve justice, and as the case for what we’re talking about here with the tragedy of what we just saw occur in Atlanta, Georgia.” That sounds alright. But unfortunately, Chipper kept talking.
Have you ever watched The Office and during one of the awkward and uncomfortable moments thought, “Please stop talking, Michael Scott. For the love of god, please stop talking”? This was one of those moments, except more racist, more awkward, and with more stupid.
Chip said, “I think there’s an old saying 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.”
It seems like when Chip found out he was to take part in a hearing about violence and discrimination against an American minority, he thought it was in favor of violence and discrimination against American minorities. Yee-haw, get the rope. You would think that at some point during the sentence about lynching, at least one of his Republican colleagues would have tackled Chip Roy.
Chip was upset because he saw the hearing as an attack on free speech. He thought the hearing was an attack on his freedom to be racist. This is the first response from white male conservatives after six Asian Americans are murdered: “How will this affect my white privilege?”
There has been an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans over the past year. It coincided with the coronavirus arriving in our country and Donald Trump waging a public relations war against China that included plenty of racist terms against Asians.
Chip Roy said, “My concern about this hearing is that it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric in a free society, free speech and away from rule of law and taking out bad guys.” No. It’s not about policing rhetoric. It’s about policing white racism that leads to violence. To start, you need to find out where the seed was planted. In this case, it was probably planted when Donald Trump started using the term “kung flu.”
And then, racists started walking up to elderly Asian Americans and attacking them. Last week in San Francisco (In case you’re a Republican, that’s in California), a 38-year-old man punched an 83-year-old Asian American man and later, he punched a 75-year-old Asian American woman.
If your first concern after hearing about members of another race being punched and gunned down is for your white privilege, you’re kind of an asshole.
Here’s the thing, white people: Not everything is about you. This country belongs to the 75-year-old Asian woman just as much as it belongs to you. Don’t you get that? If not, it would be best for you to start understanding it.
I understand the world is a scary place for white conservatives. They’re losing elections and they’re becoming the minority. Most people in this nation don’t agree with them. They are no longer the silent majority because they’re never been silent and they’re no longer the majority. Now, they are reluctant to stop using racist terms. White people are starting to argue that not being able to discriminate is discrimination against them.
During the 2016 president campaign at one event in one of the Dakota states, Donald Trump used the slur “Pocahontas,” and was told quickly by a Native American reporter, “That’s offensive.” Donald Trump sounded like a child when he said, “It is?” He acted like it was the first time that was brought to his attention. He didn’t say it again at that event, but he continued to use it for the next four years.
In 1997 when I moved to Hawaii, my editor, who was a Japanese American, told me not to use the word “Oriental” to describe people. She wasn’t angry or talking down, but she explained to me, who was a 30-year-old cartoonist who just got off a plane from Mississippi, that the Orient is a place, not a people. I didn’t fight that. I didn’t resist. My whiteness wasn’t threatened. I stopped using that word for people and I was really glad she educated me and I walked away from that experience a little less ignorant. She may have saved my life. I did not continue using the word that way because I felt she was attacking my freedom. I did not feel she was “policing my rhetoric in a free society.” She was right and the best thing for me to do was listen to her wisdom and follow her advice.
Later that night, I met an elderly man in Waikiki, who was of Chinese descent, who really hated Japanese people. But, he never used the word “Oriental.” It was educational.
I’m not a total jerk. People do make mistakes. Donald Trump could be forgiven if he stopped saying “Pocahontas” as an insult after the first time someone told him it was offensive. But after being told it disparaging, he continued to use it. He continued to use “kung flu” and “China virus.” His people continue to use “Wuhan virus.” The virus is not a place and it’s not an ethnicity. The virus is not people. Perhaps the biggest problem with Trump using those words is that Republicans laughed with each use. Ah, Trump. You are so hilarious. Donald Trump will put people in danger for a cheap laugh…or to overturn an election.
New York Congressional Democrat Grace Meng told Chip Roy, “Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country 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.”
You’re free to criticize China. And just like criticizing the Israeli government isn’t anti-Semitic or against Jewish people, you can criticize the policies of China without attacking Asians. You can confront serious issues without putting a bullseye on people’s backs.
But maybe it’ll never work with Republicans because they’re so racist, they don’t know they’re racist. For example: Did you hear about the Republican asshole who used a lynching analogy at an anti-racism hearing?
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