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Rep. Andy Kim responds to Greene's racist slur: 'We must get better at this'

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) referred to Asian Americans as ‘yellow people’ at a recent event.

By Josh Axelrod - December 21, 2021
Andy Kim

For the second time this year, a conservative lawmaker used the outdated and offensive slur “yellow people” to refer to Asian Americans.

This time, the comment came from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) at a conservative conference on Sunday, continuing a pattern of anti-Asian remarks from the GOP.

“So I’ve never been to one of these events before,” Greene said in a speech at Turning Point USA’s “AmericaFest” conference. “I’ve heard a little bit about them. I’ve seen a little bit of this event, this type of event before.”

She continued: “And when I walked in yesterday, I was like, ‘What kind of people come here?’ So I’m walking around and seeing some good people and I see white people, Black people, brown people, yellow people.”

The Georgia Republican went on to mock the idea that the GOP peddles in white supremacy.

“And then I said, ‘Oh, oh, I know exactly what this is.’ The Left calls this a white supremacist party. Okay, okay, I know what I’m going to now,” Greene said.

Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), who is of Korean descent, condemned Greene’s comments.

“I pray that in the year 2021, people know not to use derogatory language when referring to AAPIs [Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders],” Kim said in a statement to The American Independent Foundation. “We must get better at this. I urge my colleague to come talk to me and I’ll explain why this rhetoric is hurtful and should not be used.”

Greene has a long history of making antisemitic and racist comments, for which she was stripped of her committee assignments in February. She once even threatened to deport Chinese Americans that were loyal to the Chinese Communist Party.

“If I was in charge and I had my way, I would come down on China so hard,” Greene said in July. “I would kick out every single Chinese in this country that is loyal to the CCP. They would be gone. I do not care who they are.”

In June, Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin made a similar comment on the campaign trail.

“I so look forward to being governor and actually working hard to unleash the potential of all Virginians, so that people — so that our children can run as fast as they can. So that all Virginians — Black Virginians, brown Virginians, white Virginians, yellow Virginians — can all achieve their aspirations and their ambitions,” Youngkin said on a podcast.

Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, condemned Youngkin’s use of the anti-Asian slur at the time.

“‘Yellow’ is not and has never been the appropriate way to speak about the Asian American and Pacific Islander community — a large and diverse community,” Chu told The American Independent Foundation. “With the drastic rise in Anti-Asian hate crimes over the past year, language like this exacerbates the problem and paints AAPIs as perpetual foreigners.”

Nonetheless, Republicans have time and again used language that experts say has put the Asian American community at risk. Anti-Asian hate crimes rose 73% last year, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

In March, police arrested Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man, for killing six women of Asian descent in a shooting spree that took place at three massage parlors across Atlanta. In the wake of the shootings, 180 House Republicans voted against a resolution that condemned the violence and pledged to combat anti-Asian hate.

Almost three-quarters of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have blamed former President Donald Trump for the soaring rate of anti-Asian hate crimes since the start of the pandemic, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll released in October.

Trump often used racist language to describe the coronavirus, calling it the “Wuhan virus,” “Chinese virus,” and “kung flu” at campaign events.

In March 2020, Trump changed the word “coronavirus” to “Chinese virus” in prepared remarks for the White House coronavirus task force, a photo published by the Washington Post showed.

In August 2020, Trump defended the term “Chinese virus” to radio host Geraldo Rivera.

“No, I tell you, I do too have great Asian support,” Trump said at the time. “And they understand exactly what it is that we’re doing and saying. And they understand how China has hurt our country, you know, very much.”

At a March 2021 hearing about rising anti-Asian violence, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) claimed that structural racism was overblown because Asian Americans have found success in the United States. This argument plays into the harmful “model minority” myth that pits racial and ethnic minorities against each other.

That same month, Republican lawmakers claimed that it was somehow “racist” for Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) — who are of Thai and Japanese descent, respectively — to call on President Joe Biden to make his Cabinet more diverse.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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