New York Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler Thursday condemned politicians who “demonized China” over the coronavirus pandemic and alleged their attitudes have attributed to the increase in violence and discrimination against Asian Americans.
“This surge did not spontaneously rise only out of fears regarding the coronavirus pandemic,” Nadler said. “Some of this blame lies squarely on political leaders who have demonized China — both because of the virus and ongoing geopolitical tensions — and in turn, Asian-Americans have fallen in harm’s way.
“Words have power. What we say matters,” he added.
Fox News did not receive a response to a request for comment from Nadler’s office for clarification on which lawmakers he was referring to, whether he thought China held responsibility for the pandemic, and whether it was fair to criticize China over the virus.
Nadler spoke during a Thursday hearing on “Discrimination and Violence against Asian Americans,” held in the wake of a series of deadly Atlanta-shootings that killed eight people, six of whom were of Asian descent.
The Judiciary Committee chairman pointed to several graphic incidents of violence against Asian Americans and Asian descendants within his own New York district but noted the harassment and violence extends across the country.
The resolution alleged that terms popularized by Donald Trump such as “Chinese virus” and “Kung-flu” perpetuated an anti-Asian stigma and contributed to spikes in hate crimes against Asian Americans.
Other Democrats in Thursday’s hearing also condemned what they hold to be the normalization of charged rhetoric, particularly regarding comments made by Ranking Member Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas.
“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,” Roy said in attempting to show how important he thinks finding justice is – though some lawmakers later condemned this as a glorification of lynching.
“My concern about this hearing though is it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric,” Roy added.
“This hearing is about Americans of Asian descent who are being targeted in the United States. It’s not about policing speech, I serve under active duty so you can say whatever you want under the first amendment,” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., shot back at Roy. “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 in regards to this virus.”
Roy later defended his comments and refused to apologize.
“Apparently some folks are freaking out that I used an old expression about finding all the rope in Texas and a tall oak tree about carrying out justice against bad guys … I meant it. We need more justice and less thought police,” he said in a statement. “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.”