Republican lawmaker invokes a saying glorifying lynchings at congressional hearing about racist violence

  • GOP Rep. Chip Roy quoted a saying glorifying lynchings at a hearing about racist violence.
  • Roy said all victims of race-based violence deserve justice and added: “There’s old sayings in Texas about find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree.”
  • “You know, we take justice very seriously, and we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys,” he said.
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A Republican lawmaker from Texas quoted a saying glorifying lynchings at a Thursday House subcommittee hearing on racial violence.

The hearing focused on the rise in anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It also came days after a series of deadly shootings in three Atlanta-area massage parlors that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women.

Rep. Chip Roy, the ranking member of the House subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, said in his opening remarks that all “victims of race-based violence and their families deserve justice.”

Then he invoked a line from the song “Beer For My Horses” by Toby Keith, saying: “There’s old sayings in Texas about find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree.”

“You know, we take justice very seriously, and we ought to do that,” Roy added. “Round up the bad guys.”

Critics, including Democratic members of Congress, condemned Roy’s apparent celebration of the US’s history of extrajudicial killing and lynching, which disproportionately targeted people of color.

Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, called Roy’s comments during the hearing “stupid” and “racist.” Lieu and others noted that Chinese Americans were the victims of one of the worst mass lynchings in American history when 18 Chinese American men and boys were murdered and hung by a mob in Los Angeles in 1871. 

Roy later used whataboutism to point the finger at China and criticized Thursday’s hearing as an attempt to stifle free speech, a comment that also earned him sharp rebukes from some of his Democratic colleagues.

“Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don’t have to do it by putting a bullseye on the back of Asian-Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids,” said New York Rep. Grace Meng. “This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community and to find solutions, and we will not let you take our voice away from us.”

The US has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence over the last year. About 3,800 anti-Asian racist incidents were reported across the country between March 2020 and February 2021, according to Stop AAPI Hate. The reported incidents have disproportionately included female victims. 

President Donald Trump and many GOP leaders have worsened attacks and discrimination against Asians and Asian Americans by insisting on calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” and the “kung flu.” 

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