WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden, in a prime-time address March 11 on the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown, condemned the wave of anti-Asian hate crimes sweeping the nation.
“Too often, we’ve turned against one another,” he said. “A mask — the easiest thing to do to save lives — sometimes it divides us. States pitted against one other instead of working with each other.
“Vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans, who have been attacked, harassed, blamed, and scapegoated. At this very moment, so many of them — our fellow Americans — they’re on the frontlines of this pandemic, trying to save lives, and still — still — they are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America.
“It’s wrong, it’s un-American, and it must stop.”
Biden also denounced anti-Asian violence in January when he signed an executive order calling for better data collection of such incidents and urging federal agencies to remove any racist language still being used in government documents.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said in a statement, “I am overwhelmed by President Biden’s powerful words last night condemning the attacks on Asian Americans. This is precisely the kind of compassion and concern that Joe Biden promised the American people, and it means so much to hear him deliver on that promise.
“The coronavirus pandemic has caused incredible pain for so many who have lost jobs or loved ones. None of us have been spared. And this is especially true for Asian Americans who, as President Biden noted, have been attacked and harassed because of misinformation and xenophobia that wrongly blamed them for this virus.
“By including that experience in his national address, President Biden made it clear that stopping the violence against Asian Americans will be a critical component of our nation’s COVID-19 response efforts. And that leadership can make all the difference.
“Already, President Biden has issued a presidential memorandum to condemn and combat racism, xenophobia and intolerance against AAPIs and has committed to working with the AAPI community to better track and address these hate incidents. And by speaking out, he is saving lives by helping to douse the flames of xenophobia and anger.
“I am grateful to President Biden for his work to bring our country together and prioritize the health and safety of all Americans as we work to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic. It makes a tremendous difference to have a president who works to stop hate crimes instead of inspiring them.”
“Thank you President Biden for your strong words to protect Americans of Asian descent, and for your executive order combatting hate crimes,” tweeted Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance). “This is in stark contrast to the former president, who made racist remarks like ‘kung flu’ that inflamed prejudices against Asian Americans.”
President Trump constantly referred to the coronavirus as the “China virus” or “Wuhan virus” despite requests that he use more neutral language. In many of the hate incidents, the perpetrators indicated that they associate Asians, regardless of ethnicity, with the virus.
In a statement last week, the former president said, “I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China virus) vaccine, that if I wasn’t president, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all. I hope everyone remembers.”
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties was scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday morning on the discrimination and violence Asian Americans have faced both historically and since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.