Combatting Anti-Asian hate crimes demands a stronger response and a recognition of our past
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The targeted killing of women of Asian descent at Atlanta-area massage parlors and the attacks on dozens of other Asian-Americans since as they went about their daily lives stand as horrific testaments to the danger and fear reverberating throughout the Asian-American community in response to the current wave of hate-motivated violence.

In describing her reaction to seeing her mother violently shoved to the ground on a street in New York City, Maggie Cheng said, “I’ve never cried like that before.”

After speaking out about his concern that Gov. Greg Abbott lifted Texas’s mask mandate, Mike Nguyen received death threats and his restaurant was vandalized with racial slurs such as “Kung Flu” — a term that became popular from former President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE’s irresponsible conflation of the virus with China.

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Reports of anti-Asian hate crimes have increased by 150 percent during the pandemic as unfair blame and hatred has been placed on Asian Americans for the occurrence of the COVID-19 virus. It has manifested into a disturbing spike in violence and verbal assaults that cut at the very core of American ideals. But despite the increased severity and visibility of these incidents, none of this is new. The pandemic did not create anti-Asian racism and bigotry-driven violence. What we’re witnessing is the violent revelation of long-standing, often unaddressed xenophobia and racism which Asian-Americans face each day and which have endured long after policies like the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Asian immigration in the 1880s.

While the Asian-American community has been disproportionately targeted over the course of this pandemic, it is not alone in facing the rise of hate crimes in the United States over the last few years. During the Trump administration, white supremacism became emboldened and grew. In September 2020, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee that “people ascribing to some white supremacy type of ideology is certainly the largest chunk of [racially motivated violence].” In 2019, 51 people were murdered because of hate crimes, which is the largest figure since the federal government began tracking the numbers in the early 1990s. Over 57 percent of the hate crimes in 2019 stemmed from race, ethnicity, and ancestry bias. The largest increase within the 2019 hate crime data was found in antisemitic hate crimes, which rose by 14 percent. Each instance of an attack and each statistic reverberates through an entire community, whether that community is Asian-American, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, African-American, or LGBTQ.

Even now, we’re not certain of the true scale of the current wave of attacks and harassment. For every news story you see on hate crimes, the Department of Justice itself reports that there are many more that go unreported or unrecorded. Whether the barriers come from within the victims — a fear of not being believed or a fear of being further persecuted — or from within the justice system, these hate crimes in the United States are underreported. Our government has embarrassingly limited statistical data on hate crimes, as ProPublica reported that only 2 percent of hate crime incidents are reported to the FBI each year.

To provide us with the data we need to combat this surge in hate crimes while identifying the best policies to end it, I have reintroduced my legislation, the Hate Crimes Commission Act. This bipartisan bill with more than 140 co-sponsors will establish a national commission of civil rights and law enforcement leaders to strengthen our understanding of the current trend of rising hate crimes by studying its causes and recommending the best course for preventing and combatting such harassment and attacks. Additionally, the commission will make recommendations for improving the ways we track hate crimes and the types of responses that are successful through coordination with community groups.

Across three centuries, the racism and discrimination faced by Asian-Americans has often gone unsaid, perpetuating an invisible burden, which has now been brought into light by the tragedy in Atlanta and the wave of attacks we’ve witnessed across the nation. These crimes demand our recognition of the unique challenges faced by the Asian-American community just as we must recognize the singular challenges faced by every other American community on their own terms. As we join together to fulfill the promise of what Frederick Douglass described as our “composite nationality” as Americans, we must work to combat the shared dangers posed by xenophobia, violent bigotry, and the false notion that our citizenship is defined not by shared American ideals, but by the color of our skin.

Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiHouse Oversight Democrats ask NFL for information from investigation into Washington Football Team FDA authorizes an e-cigarette for first time, citing benefit for smokers Congressional investigators find more cases of baby food with toxic heavy metals MORE, a Democrat from Schaumburg, represents the 8th District of Illinois.