GOP congressmen make a big show of pretending to care about anti-Asian discrimination


Jim Jordan and Mike Johnson have histories of racist and discriminatory behavior.

A group of Republican lawmakers on Tuesday, concerned about supposed anti-Asian discrimination at prestigious U.S. universities, called on one school president to testify about the issue at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing to discuss violent threats to the Asian American Pacific Islander community, which have risen dramatically in recent months.

The call stands in contrast with past actions by two of those same lawmakers, who have a history of anti-Asian discrimination themselves.

GOP Reps. Jim Jordan (OH) and Mike Johnson were among the signatories of a letter to House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler and Rep. Steve Cohen, chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which is hosting the hearing, that requested Yale University president Peter Salovey testify at the hearing, in order "to examine Yale's admission processes and its discriminatory effects on Asian Americans."

Reps. Michelle Steel and Young Kim of California also signed the letter.

"Racially motivated violence and discrimination against Asian Americans is wrong, plain and simple. As the subcommittee convenes this hearing, it must also consider the serious allegations that our nation's elite universities discriminate against Asian Americans in the universities' admissions processes," they wrote.

The letter cited a lawsuit that the Justice Department brought against Yale University in October, under the Trump administration, and criticized the Biden administration for rescinding the case.

The issue of discrimination against Asian Americans in college admission has created controversy within the community. But past data and research have shed light on the matter and showed a more nuanced narrative.

A 2015 report from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, reviewing similar claims about Princeton University, found "mostly steady increases in the percentages of Asian students who have been admitted in the past several years." The figures include an increase from 14.2% of the university's 2007 class to 21.9% of its 2012 class and 25.4% of its 2014 class.

Princeton noted that two Asian American applicants with "relatively low GPAs and SAT scores who were notable for other distinctions such as community service, overcoming impoverished backgrounds, and working in a family business" were also admitted.

As David Hinojosa, director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, explained to the Associated Press in February, when the Biden administration dropped its suit against Yale University, "It has been proven in the courts that race-conscious admissions programs are lawful, and Black students and other students of color who come from all walks of life can rest a little easier knowing our government is looking to lift them up, not divide and suppress."

Additionally, two of the lawmakers who signed Tuesday's letter have long histories of anti-Asian racism.

In September 2020, amid rising hostility toward Asians and Asian Americans — much of it stemming from racist rhetoric related to the coronavirus pandemic — Jordan dismissed a House resolution to condemn all forms of anti-Asian sentiment, claiming it was censorship and repeating the offending language from the chamber floor.

"That’s how the mob operates today," he said. "They’ll attack you if you don’t say it the way they want you to say it and this is dangerous. You can't say 'China virus today.' Tomorrow who knows what it will be? ... Somehow it's anti-Asian bias."

Jordan suggested the measure was another way to attack Donald Trump, who had repeatedly used disparaging terms to describe the coronavirus in attempts to scapegoat and blame China for his own botched pandemic response.

Johnson also voted against the resolution, which called for federal law enforcement to investigate and record reports of hate crimes against Asian Americans and collect data on hate crimes related to COVID-19.

Earlier that year, in May 2020, Jordan and Johnson voted against the Heroes Act, which included the National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality (NO HATE) Act. That provision called for support in implementing a national hate crime reporting system, funding for state-run hate crime hotlines, resources for law enforcement to address hate crimes, and more data collection on the issue.

Both men were notably silent after a spate of Atlanta-area shootings at three spas on Tuesday, which left eight people dead, six of whom were Asian women. Neither issued condolences or sought accountability for the vicious attack, which was carried out by a 21-year-old white man.

Thursday's House Judiciary hearing will address those shootings as well as threats against Asian American and Pacific Islander Americans more broadly, which have been on the rise across the country over the past year.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.