Senate

Grassley commends Korean American judicial nominee for ‘hard work ethic’ of ‘you and your people’

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
Greg Nash

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is facing criticism after congratulating a Korean American judicial nominee on Wednesday, commenting on the “hard work ethic” of “you and your people.” 

“What you said about your Korean background reminds me a lot of what my daughter-in-law of 45 years has said: ‘If I learned anything from Korean people, it’s a hard work ethic. And how you can make a lot out of nothing,’ ” the 88-year-old told judicial nominee Lucy Koh on Wednesday.

“So I congratulate you and your people,” he added.

Koh thanked the senator following the comments.

Grassley, who is running for reelection, garnered some criticism from some who argued that the comments were prejudicial and “harmful.” 

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), the first Chinese American woman to be elected to Congress and also the chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, called out Grassley’s remarks as “harmful” and prejudiced. 

“Even as a compliment, assigning any trait to a whole community is the definition of prejudice. Treating all members of a group as the same invites mistreatment. It may not be the same incitement to violence seen in other slurs, but is harmful none the less,” Chu tweeted, including a link to the Post article.

When asked for comment, Taylor Foy, communications director for Grassley, said via email that the senator’s “​​intent was to be complimentary, not to insult anyone.”

“Chairman [Sen. Dick] Durbin (D-Ill.) invited Judge Koh to share the inspiring story of her family’s immigration to the United States. Sen. Grassley shared that he has similarly been inspired by the immigration story of his daughter-in-law, who is also Korean-American,” Foy added.

–Updated 6:51 p.m.

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