Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) kicked off Thursday’s House hearing on violence and discrimination against Asian-Americans by railing against the Chinese Communist Party and extolling lynchings, saying he takes “justice very seriously.”
The House Judiciary Committee hearing, which was originally scheduled to address the marked increase in anti-Asian hate crimes and violence in recent months, took on added urgency after a 21-year-old white man went on a murderous rampage on Tuesday that left eight dead, including six Asian women.
In his opening statement, Roy first acknowledged that the shootings were a tragedy and that the “victims of race-based violence and their families deserve justice.” From there, however, the Texas lawmaker immediately criticized the very nature of the hearing while deploying some whataboutist logic.
“The case we are talking about here, the tragedy we just saw occur in Atlanta, Georgia,” Roy declared. “I would also suggest that the victims of cartels moving illegal aliens deserve justice. The American citizens in south Texas, they are getting absolutely decimated by what’s happening at the southern border deserve justice.”
The conservative congressman continued: “The victims of rioting and looting in the street... last summer deserve justice. We believe in justice.”
And then came an admiring reference to lynchings, a violent and public form of vigilante action that most often targeted people of color: “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. And we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys. That’s what we believe.” (The “old saying” is, in fact, a lyric from “Beer for My Horses,” a Toby Keith song.)
Roy further grumbled: “My concern about this hearing is that it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric in a free society, free speech, and away from the rule of law and taking out bad guys.”
While many have expressed growing concern that the heated rhetoric from conservatives and former President Donald Trump regarding the coronavirus—including calling it the “China virus” and “Kung flu”—has potentially led to increased anti-Asian sentiment in the states, Roy decided to launch into a rant against the Chinese government.
“I think the Chinese Communist Party running the country of China, I think they are the bad guys,” Roy exclaimed. "I think that they are harming people and I think they are engaging in modern-day slavery.”
“What they are doing to undermine our national security, and what they are doing to steal our intellectual property, and what they are doing to rattle throughout the Pacific, I think it’s patently evil and deserving of condemnation,” he continued. “And I think that what they did to hide the reality of this virus is equally deserving of condemnation.”
Later in the hearing, Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), who is of Taiwanese descent, issued a powerful rebuke of Roy, specifically singling out his attempt to use a hearing on anti-Asian violence to complain about the Chinese government.
“I want to go back to something that Mr. Roy said earlier,” an emotional Meng stated. “Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don’t have to do it by putting a bull’s eye on the backs of Asian-Americans across this country! On our grandparents and on our kids!”
Holding back tears and her voice quivering, the Democratic lawmaker added: “This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community and to find solutions! We will not let you take our voice away from us!”
In response to Meng’s comments and the media coverage of his own remarks, Roy later issued a statement doubling down: “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 policing. We need to stop evil doers, such as those who carried out the attack in Atlanta this week, or cartels abusing little children, or those who kill our cops on the streets. We should restore order by tamping out evil actors, not turn America into an authoritarian state like the Chinese Communists who seek the destroy us. No apologies.”