Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) repeatedly summoned racist tropes about the coronavirus and incessantly blamed China for the outbreak.
Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley on Thursday cast the sole vote against a bill aimed at tackling hate crimes against Asian Americans amid an alarming uptick of violence against the community over the past year.
The U.S. Senate voted overwhelming 94-1 to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would designate a Department of Justice official to the issue and expedite investigations of coronavirus-related hate crimes. Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono sponsored the bill.
"PASSED: Today, the US Senate rejects anti-Asian hate," Hirono tweeted Wednesday. "This historic, bipartisan vote on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act is a powerful message of solidarity to our AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community. Now, I urge the House to swiftly pass this legislation so President Biden can sign it into law."
The Senate, that is, except for Hawley, who bucked his colleagues, Republicans included, to vote nay on the effort to combat hate crimes.
The Missouri senator's vote is in line with his history of racist behavior.
Earlier this year, during a speech a the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, he, for example, rebuked the New York Times' "1619 Project," a collection of articles on the history of slavery in the United States. He also denied that systemic racism exists and stressed that the country liberated slaves.
"We heard that we are systemically racist," Hawley said. "We heard that the real founding of the country wasn’t in 1776, it was in 1619 or whatever. We heard that America is founded in lies and evil. That’s what we’ve been told. All of that is false. All of that is a lie."
He continued, "We're proud to have lived in a country that started with nothing and became the greatest country in the face of the earth. We're proud to be in a country that liberated slaves."
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawley repeatedly summoned racist tropes about the coronavirus and incessantly blamed China for the outbreak.
"Since day one, the Chinese Communist Party intentionally lied to the world about the origin of this pandemic," Hawley said last March. "It is time for an international investigation into the role their cover-up played in the spread of this devastating pandemic. The CCP must be held to account for what the world is now suffering."
His comments are consistent with Donald Trump's scapegoating of China for his own botched coronavirus response.
He also targeted the Chinese government. In July 2020, he introduced the Civil Justice for Victims of China-Originated Viral Infectious Diseases (COVID) Act to strip China of its sovereign immunity and allow federal courts to freeze Chinese assets.
"I'm proud to stand with my colleagues and lead the effort to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for the devastation they have unleashed on the world. This pandemic is far from over, and every day Americans continue to suffer thanks to the CCP's incompetence and lies. The victims deserve to have their day in court," he said then.
Hawley's separately introduced the Justice for Victims of Coronavirus Act in April 2020 to allow U.S. citizens and states to sue the Chinese government for damages related to the coronavirus pandemic.
All of Hawley's actions occurred amid an increase in brutal hate incidents and crimes against the AAPI community that has largely been fueled by anti-Asian racism and COVID-19 lies.
A March report from the Stop AAPI Hate tracking initiative found 3,795 anti-Asian hate incidents from the start of the pandemic last March to February this year.
Racist rhetoric from GOP lawmakers and Trump had contributed to the rise in anti-Asian hate, an earlier Stop AAPI Hate report found.
In Atlanta-area shootings on March 16, a white male opened fire at three spas where eight people died, six of whom were Asian women. The tragedy was a watershed moment and became a rallying cry against racism and sexism.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.