House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) Thursday partly blamed lawmakers who “demonized China” over the coronavirus pandemic for the rise in attacks on Asian-Americans.
“It is important to recognize that this surge did not spontaneously arise only out of fears regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Some of this blame lies squarely on political leaders who have demonized China — both because of the virus and ongoing geopolitical tensions — and in turn Asian-Americans have fallen in harm’s way,” Nadler said during a hearing on “Discrimination and Violence against Asian-Americans.”
“Words have power. What we say matters. How we treat each other matters,” the New York Democrat added. “The conversation we are having today is long overdue, and it is vital that Congress shine a light on this issue.”
Nadler did not call out any lawmaker by name for taking aim at China. According to a report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans has risen 149 percent from 2019 to 2020.
Nadler’s comments come after Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, Georgia, confessed to killing eight people, six of whom were of Asian heritage, at massage parlors in the Atlanta metro area Tuesday evening. Long, who is white, was arrested shortly after the killings and has been charged with murder and assault.
Long told police the shootings were not racially-motivated and he possibly suffers from a “sex addiction,” officials said in a press conference Wednesday.
“He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places, and it’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” Cherokee County Sheriff’s Captain Jay Baker told reporters.
Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said it was too early to tell if the attacks were racially-motivated — “but the indicators right now are it may not be.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.