It’s undeniable that the recent spate of anti-Asian violence that our nation has been suffering from has been primarily inspired by Donald Trump’s bigoted tweets blaming China for the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Trump’s hateful and cynically manipulative propaganda campaign was designed to shift the blame for the pandemic from his own and his administration’s massive incompetence to a foreign government, but some of his deplorable followers saw little distinction between the leaders of the People’s Republic of China and the Asian-Americans of various ethnicities ranging from Filipino to Korean to Vietnamese to a host of other Asian nationalities and began to engage in episodes of harassment and outright violence towards these innocent Americans, some of whom have had family roots here in the U.S. for decades.
President Biden, took a major step today in counteracting the damage done by Donald Trump against Americans of Asian and Pacific Island descent by signing the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act that addresses the rise of anti-Asian violence by creating a new position at the Justice Department to examine potential Covid-19-related hate crimes and incidents reported at the federal, state or local level.
“I believe, with every fiber of my being, that there are simple, core values and beliefs that should bring us together as Americans. One of them is standing together against hate, against racism — an ugly poison that has long haunted and plagued our nation,” Biden told the crowd of agency officials, policy advocates, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers during the bill’s signing at the White House. “Today I can say that because of all of you … you’ve taken that first step.”
“My message to all of those who are hurting is: We see you and the Congress has said, we see you. And we are committed to stop the hatred and the bias,” he said.
While the measure that Biden signed passed the Senate by a surprisingly nearly unanimous vote of 94-1 last month, its passage in the House of Representatives wasn’t nearly as bipartisan as one might hope, with 62 Republicans rejecting the bill, presumably because it was not part of their pro-hate agenda.
In addition to the new DOJ position tasked with expediting the review of incidents that could be classified as hate crimes, the legislation will have the Justice Department and the Health and Human Services Department work with local community organizations to increase awareness of pandemic-inspired bias incidents and mandates that Attorney General Merrick Garland set up an online reporting platform in conjunction with state and local law enforcement to track the incidents.
President Biden further elaborated on the impetus behind the new legislation by recalling his visit to Atlanta after six women of Asian ethnicity were killed in the murderous spa shootings in that city.
“We heard about the pain, their fear, anger, and all that existed in the community, feelings. They felt invisible — not seen,” President Biden explained. “The conversation we had in Atlanta is one we’re hearing all across the country, that all of this hate hides in plain sight,” he later added.“We heard out too many Asian Americans have been waking up each morning this past year, genuinely — genuinely — fearing for their safety,” Biden continued, adding that Asian Americans have been “living in fear for their lives” and are being “attacked, blamed, scapegoated, harassed during this pandemic.”“Grandparents afraid to leave their homes even to get vaccinated, for fear of being attacked. Small business owners targeted and gunned down. Students worried about two things: Covid-19 and being bullied,” he lamented.
“Every time we let hate flourish we make a lie of who we are as a nation. I mean it literally. We cannot let the very foundation of this country continue to be eaten away like it has been in other moments in our history and happening again,” Biden declared.
Original reporting by Maegan Vazquez at CNN.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.