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While one US president tries to help the nation heal from racist killings and violence against Asian-Americans, his predecessor is blamed for fomenting the hate in the first place.
President Biden and Vice President Harris traveled to help the city of Atlanta, Ga., and the nation heal after shootings last week in the Atlanta area which left eight dead. Six of the eight were Asian-American women, and the incident is being considered a hate crime.
“We have to speak out, we have to act. In my first week in office, I signed an executive order directing federal agencies to combat this resurgence of xenophobia. The Department of Justice is strengthening its partnership with the [Asian-American and Pacific Islander] community to prevent these crimes, in addition to its other work to take on violent extremists and domestic terrorism,” Biden said Friday in Atlanta. “I’m calling on Congress to pass and get to my desk the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.
“And the House just passed the reauthorization for the Violence Against Women Act, a law I authored more than 25 years ago. It was one of my proudest legislative achievements,” Biden added. “I call on the Senate to swiftly pass it and get it to my desk. But for all the good that laws can do, we have to change our hearts. Hate can have no safe harbor in America. It must stop. And it’s on all of us, all of us together to make it stop.”
Many, however, foresaw an event like the Atlanta shootings coming, given a rise in anti-Asian American racism and violence in the country.
“We are here today, still shocked and heartbroken about the murder of eight in Georgia, including six Asian American women by gunmen, who targeted three Asian businesses. The first one being Young’s Asian Massage, then driving 27 miles to two other Asian spots,” said Rep Judy Chu (D-Calif). “His targets were no accident, and what we know is that this day was coming.”
That racism and violence is often laid at the feet of Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump and his Republican allies, who often used anti-Asian rhetoric to discuss the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.
“It is simple like that. And he has literally for the past year empowered this sort of racist behavior. You have to remember the mindset of people, especially in the beginning of the pandemic,” said Rep Grace Meng (D-NY). “There was a lot of fear, there was a lot of unknown about this pandemic. People were losing loved ones, their homes, their jobs. And then when you have a leader, who has a big platform, constantly, incessantly using phrases like that, it’s going to affect people, and it’s a direct cause of some of these incidents.
“You know, we’ve been hearing about it not just in the last few days but all throughout the last year. We’ve now seen over 3,800 incidents that have been reported across this country,” Meng added. “And we don’t know how many haven’t been reported. I hear from people who are not letting their parents or their grandparents go outside, not even for a walk around the block. They’re scared that something might happen. People aren’t letting their kids play outside because they’re scared that they might get bullied.”
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