WASHINGTON — Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) has drawn fire for a reference to “Orientals” while discussing town hall meetings held by Republican members of Congress, many of which have been disrupted by constituents opposed to President Trump’s policies.
In a meeting last month with the editorial board of The Southern Illinoisan, Bost said, “The amount of time that I have at home is minimal. I need to make sure that it’s productive. You know the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them? That’s not what we need. We need to have meetings with people that are productive.”
Bost was apparently referring to “struggle sessions” in which individuals were publicly humiliated by the Chinese Communist Party under Chairman Mao Zedong.
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus said in a Facebook post directed at Bost, “Calling Asians ‘Oriental’ is wrong. This offensive comment fuels xenophobic rhetoric that hurts Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. ICYMI: Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), and POTUS 44 struck the offensive term ‘Oriental’ from our laws last year.”
William Lo, who identified himself as a Chinese American Republican constituent from Carbondale, Ill., told CNN that he was taken aback by Bost’s comments, which reminded him of racially motivated bullying he had faced growing up.
He also said that he was rethinking his support of the congressman, whom he had voted for. “Asians are always misrepresented. People don’t always think of Asians facing racism, but we do.”
Bost said in a statement to CNN on March 2, “I used a poor choice of words in describing the coordinated disruptions taking place across the country. While there was no malicious intent, I regret that my words may have distracted from an important point.”