WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday voted to condemn all forms of anti-Asian sentiment related to the coronavirus over objections from Champaign County Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, who dismissed the measure as another effort by Democrats to attack President Donald Trump.
“Everyone knows racism is wrong, but that’s not what this legislation is about,” said Jordan, who serves as top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said on the House floor.
Democrats who unanimously supported the measure argued it’s needed to fight racially motivated harassment and violence against Asians that stems from their being associated with the virus because of its origins in China. They cited prominent figures, including Trump, “resorting to anti-Asian rhetoric in speaking about the challenge of COVID-19,” as House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland described it.
In addition to condemning anti-Asian sentiment, the resolution calls on federal law enforcement to investigate and document all credible reports of hate crimes against Asian-Americans, to collect data on the rise of hate crimes incidents due to COVID-19, and to hold perpetrators accountable.
The measure passed the House of Representatives in a 243-164 vote. All of Ohio’s Democrats backed the measure, as did Republicans Anthony Gonzalez of Rocky River and Steve Stivers of Columbus.
In a speech on the House of Representatives floor to support the resolution, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York cited a report from the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council that said there have been almost 2,600 cases of anti-Asian discrimination related to the coronavirus since March 19, including “the stabbings of an Asian-American father and his two young children, ages 2 and 6, in Texas.”
“Public health entities including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recognized that labeling a virus by geographic or ethnic terms unfairly stigmatizes certain communities and ultimately harms public health,” Nadler continued, noting that Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar condemned the use of the phrase ‘Chinese virus’ in testimony before the Ways and Means Committee, stating that ‘ethnicity is not what causes the novel coronavirus.’”
Jordan accused the resolution’s proponents of participating in a “cancel culture” mob, noting that media outlets including CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and CBS have referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese coronavirus,” “China’s coronavirus” and the “Wuhan virus.”
“In the new woke world, you can’t state the truth,” said Jordan, noting that the virus started in China, which lied to the world about the virus and its severity. He said those who are “politically correct” are stifling truthful statements about China’s role. He called the resolution and “where the left wants to take the country” dangerous for free speech rights.
“That’s how the mob operates today,” he said. “They’ll attack you if you don’t say it the way they want you to say it and this is dangerous. You can’t say China virus today. Tomorrow who knows what it will be?”
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