WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives on Sept. 17 passed H.Res. 908, a resolution condemning all forms of anti-Asian bigotry as related to COVID-19.
The resolution, introduced by CAPAC First Vice Chair Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), is a response to the over 2,600 reported anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents in recent months that have been driven by misperceptions about the coronavirus and how it spreads.
A total of 243 members (229 Democrats, 14 Republicans) voted for the resolution and 164 (all Republicans) voted against.
“Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Asian Americans have been forced to endure demeaning and disgusting acts of bigotry and hate, consisting of everything from verbal assaults to physical attacks,” said Meng. “The House needed to take a strong and public stand against this appalling intolerance, discrimination, and violence that has taken place all across the country during this public health crisis, and today it did just that.
“The rise in anti-Asian rhetoric and the blaming of Asian Americans for the spread of the coronavirus has been shameful and reckless, particularly when it comes from our nation’s leaders such as President Trump, Minority Leader [Kevin] McCarthy and many others who have used terms like ‘Chinese virus,’ ‘Wuhan virus,’ and ‘kung-flu’ to stoke people’s fears of COVID-19, scapegoat Asian Americans, and fan the flames of hate. But these are more than just hateful and irresponsible words. This language has fueled the increase of threats and attacks against those of Asian descent, and many Asian Americans continue to live in fear.
“When the first cases of coronavirus were reported in the U.S., I had advised the public about not singling out or stereotyping the Asian American community. But unfortunately, those efforts have not stopped acts of ignorance and bigotry from rearing their ugly heads. It’s time for this hysteria and discrimination to end, and I hope that with the passage of my resolution, our nation will work its way towards that goal. I thank and commend all who supported my resolution and joined me in sending a message to the American people that we reject this unacceptable racism, xenophobia, and violence.
“This measure is about condemning hate and violence and attacks on innocent individuals. We’re talking about people’s lives and their right to feel and be safe.”
Other members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) issued the following statements:
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), CAPAC chair: “Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, America has experienced a spike in anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes. In fact, over 2,600 anti-Asian hate incidents have been reported in just the last few months alone.
“An 89-year-old woman in New York was slapped and set on fire. A 16-year old boy in Los Angeles was beaten so badly he had to be hospitalized. And in Texas, a gunman shot a family at a Sam’s Club, saying he wanted to exterminate Asians. Each of these attackers, and thousands of others like them, have been inspired by the false perception that Asians are responsible for the virus – a perception that has been advanced by Donald Trump and Republicans who have insisted on using slurs like ‘Wuhan virus,’ ‘China plague,’ and ‘kung flu’ even though they know they are dangerous.
“That is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have warned that associating a virus with a particular ethnic group or geographic area is dangerous. And that is why, as chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I have repeatedly urged President Trump and my colleagues in Congress to not spread misinformation and xenophobia related to COVID-19. Even the FBI warned earlier this year that this exact kind of xenophobic rhetoric could lead to an increase in hate crimes.
“But not only have Republicans refused to drop their racist language, they have refused to acknowledge the problem at all. I was so dismayed to see my Republican colleagues, one after the other, come to the floor today and tell the Asian American community that their suffering does not matter, and that they are indifferent to the consequences of the hate they are spreading. It is more important to Republicans that they spare Donald Trump any responsibility for the spread of the coronavirus than it is that they spare even one family from the pain of being victims of a hate crime.
“Fortunately, not everyone in Congress is as indifferent to the spread of violence and bigotry. I’m so incredibly grateful to our CAPAC First Vice Grace Meng for her leadership in introducing this important piece of legislation, and I appreciate all the members who spoke up and voted for this resolution to send a clear signal that we do not tolerate hatred or violence in this country.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), CAPAC second vice chair: “By referring to COVID-19 almost exclusively as the ‘China virus,’ the [resident is fueling racism and inspiring targeted attacks on Asian Americans and Asian immigrants and my Republican colleagues are blindly following suit. The COVID-19 pandemic has become a defining moment in our nation’s history and if we want to defeat the virus that has already claimed more than 196,000 deaths, we cannot let intolerance, ignorance, or intimidation stand in our way. We must condemn this anti-Asian sentiment.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), CAPAC whip: “Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian Americans have experienced a surge in harassment and discrimination. From the Chinese Exclusion Act to the internment camps of World War II to the murder of Vincent Chin, Asian Americans have been particularly susceptible to being discriminated against by the mistaken belief that we somehow are foreigners or have foreign ties.
“Now, President Trump’s repeated insistence on calling COVID-19 the ‘Chinese virus’ and ‘kung flu’ has only fueled the hate. I’m pleased to support Congresswoman Grace Meng’s resolution condemning all forms of anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID-19. We must collectively take a stand against intolerance and bigotry especially during these unprecedented times.”
Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.), CAPAC freshman representative: “I am proud to speak out against the rise in hate alongside so many of my AAPI colleagues. Many of us have seen first-hand the vitriol of racism and felt the sting of a distrustful look or a harsh word. This resolution allows Congress to come together to speak with one voice – that hate targeted at the Asian American community has no place in this country and must be condemned.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): “After Donald Trump repeatedly used his platform to try to racialize this disease, we continue to see a spike in rhetoric and actions against the Asian American community because of misguided fears surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. We must continue to speak out against these racist acts and those who are stoking these fears about a virus that we know strikes without regard to the color of a person’s skin or the language they speak, which is one reason why I’m glad Rep. Meng’s important resolution passed the House today.”
Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii): “This pandemic has exposed just how much work we must do to achieve full equality. Anti-Asian racism and hate crimes are on the rise. Today’s vote reaffirms that everyone deserves equal treatment and we must confront discrimination when we see it. I urge the Senate to swiftly pass its own legislation condemning anti-Asian bigotry.”