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Why The Senate’s Anti-Asian Hate Crime Bill Is Political Theater


In response to the rise of anti-Asian crimes, the U.S. Senate passed an Anti-Asian Hate Crime bill by a 94 to 1 vote. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, the bill’s lead sponsor, said passing the legislation sent a “solid message of solidarity that the Senate will not be a bystander as anti-Asian violence surges in our country.” Yet a close examination of the bill raises the uncomfortable question of whether the effort will do anything meaningful to prevent anti-Asian hate crimes, as promised.

Essentially, the bill creates a position at the Justice Department to “facilitate the expedited review of hate crimes.” The bill also requires the U.S. attorney general to issue guidance to state and local law-enforcement agencies on how to “establish online reporting of hate crimes or incidents,” collect data, and raise public awareness about hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To its credit, the bill does address some known issues regarding anti-Asian hate crimes, such as historically poor data collection and the tendency among many Asian Americans not to report crimes to law enforcement due to a desire not to cause trouble with the authorities. Better data collection and reporting will give law enforcement a better understanding of the scale of the problem and provide them insights.

Still, data collection and reporting come after crimes have taken place. As Asian Americans currently face an increase in violent crimes, we need a solution now. Especially for the sake of our elders, we need to not have to worry about being pushed, kicked, robbed, or even murdered when walking out of a bank, strolling down the street, or sleeping at home at night. Unfortunately, the Senate bill does nothing to address the safety concerns Asian Americans have.

One of the bill’s most significant drawbacks is to define all recent crimes that target Asian Americans as COVID-19 related hate crimes. Although there is some evidence that verbal harassment and physical assaults against Asian Americans have happened due to COVID-19 fears, COVID-19-related hate doesn’t explain all violent crimes against Asian Americans since last summer.

For example, COVID-19-related hate doesn’t explain the rape and murder of Ee Lee in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; the robbery and murder of 75-year old Pak Ho in Oakland, California; and the mass shooting in Atlanta, Georgia that took the lives of eight people, including six Asian women. Since last year, the rise of violent crimes against Asian Americans has corresponded to the increase of violent crimes against Americans of all races nationwide.

The FBI crime data for 2020 show murders surged 25 percent — the most significant single-year increase since 1960. The Major Cities Chiefs Association reports that “63 of the 66 largest police jurisdictions saw increases in at least one category of violent crimes in 2020, which include homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.” This worrisome trend continues in 2021, as the number of violent crimes in major cities continues to rise, and a few police chiefs expect it would outpace last year’s numbers for some major cities.

Some leftists reluctantly admitted that America’s high crime rates are mainly due to the lack of policing. Since last summer, activists, leftist media, and leftist politicians have spread anti-police rhetoric and called to “defund police.” Subsequently, budget cuts and personnel reduction of some police departments have created a hostile environment for law enforcement, leaving many police forces demoralized. As a result, policing engagement fell.

Data shows violent crime rises as police retreat. For example, the New York Police Department reportedly made 38 percent fewer arrests from June to December 2020, while the city saw its homicides increased 58 percent during the same period. Chicago saw a similar trend. As Chicago’s police made 53 percent fewer arrests from June 2020 to February 2021, murders rose 65 percent in the city during the same period.

The city of Milwaukee, where Lee was raped and murdered last year, saw a 98 percent increase in murders as the city laid off 120 police officers in 2020. After Portland’s leftist Mayor Ted Wheeler defunded the city’s police department by $12 million and slashed three police units, murders increased 255 percent, and shootings jumped 173 percent.

What will make all Americans, including Asian Americans, who live in major U.S. cities feel safe right now is an increase in preventative police engagement. Yet the Senate bill failed to address this obvious point.

Right after the bill passed, in New York City someone struck 61-year-old Yao Pan Ma and repeatedly stomped on his head. Ma is in critical condition and struggling for his life. This despicable incident shows the Senate bill does little to reduce actual violent crimes presently facing Asian Americans and their neighbors.

Another big flaw of the bill lies in the fact that its sponsor and her Democratic Party colleagues refuse to address the discrimination elite universities have perpetrated against Asian students. No other issue has caused Asian American parents and their children more anxiety than the fear of losing equal access to quality education. Such fear and anxiety are caused by critical race theory’s divisive rhetoric and actions, which Democrats perpetuate instead of opposing.

Due to the relative overall success of Asian Americans, critical race theory treats Asian Americans as “whites by adjacency,” even though there is a wide wealth gap amongst Asian Americans. Critical race theory activists have argued that elite high schools and colleges are not “diverse” enough because Asians are “overrepresented.” In truth, the Asian American population is an incredibly diverse group of people linked to more than 19 different countries containing several dozens of languages.

Yet critical race theory activists have been pushing for lower admission standards and the removal of difficult entrance exams to top high schools. Instead, they seek to rely on race-based admissions in both elite high schools and colleges, all in the name of achieving an equitable outcome for other minority groups.

Many Asian Americans see such an attempt to limit their children’s access to quality education as an unjust exclusion of their children’s participation in the American Dream. That’s why the Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York called critical race theory “today’s Chinese Exclusion Act” and “the real hate crime against Asians.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, sought to address this “real hate crime against Asians” by proposing an amendment to the anti-Asian hate crime bill. His amendment called to “prohibit Federal funding for any institution of higher education that discriminates against Asian Americans in recruitment, applicant review, or admissions.” Ultimately, his amendment failed when the Democrat majority in the Senate voted “no.”

It’s such an irony that an anti-Asian hate crime bill fails to address “the real hate crime against Asians.” In reality, the Democratic Party’s selective outrage about crimes against Asian Americans is more about advancing a political agenda rather than addressing the genuine concerns and fears of Asian Americans.

The passing of this Anti-Asian Hate Crime legislation may make senators from both parties feel good about themselves. But for the majority of Asian Americans, this bill amounts to nothing but hot air. We don’t feel any safer, and we are still anxious about our children’s future.