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There were zero mentions of anti-Asian racism at the final debate

Even global human rights experts are concerned about the rise in hate crimes against Asians in the United States, which Trump’s racism has only made worse.

By Amy Lieu - October 23, 2020
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Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s racist anti-Asian rhetoric regarding the coronavirus was conspicuously absent from the final presidential debate, even as he was challenged on his discriminatory behavior more broadly.

On Thursday night, moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News asked Trump: “Mr. President you’ve described the Black Lives Matter movement as a symbol of hate. You’ve shared a video of a man chanting white power to millions of your supporters. You’ve said that black professional athletes exercising their First Amendment rights should be fired. What do you say to Americans who say that kind of language from a president is contributing to a climate of hate and racial strife?”

Trump demurred, saying he thought it was a “horrible thing” when he heard attendees at a rally chanting “pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon” about police. (Trump was in fact referring to a 2015 march in Minnesota during which a group unaffiliated with Black Lives Matter joined in and began using anti-police slogans.)

“I am the least racist person in this room,” he added.

Welker pressed him again with the question. “What do you say to Americans who are concerned by that rhetoric?” she asked.

Once again, Trump dodged, pointing to his administration’s work on criminal justice and prison reform.

Trump, however, was not questioned about his use of damaging anti-Asian racist language, specifically relating to the coronavirus pandemic and his use of the terms “China” or “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu.”

Since early on in the pandemic, Trump has repeatedly blamed China for rising death toll and economic crisis, using discriminatory terms to shift blame for his own botched response to the outbreak. The result has been an increase in hate crimes and racist attacks against Asian Americans and those of Asian descent.

A new report from STOP AAPI HATE revealed at least 2,700 racist incidents against Asian Americans since the start of the pandemic. The report linked the trend to a rise in anti-Asian racism by GOP lawmakers and officials, including Trump.

And just last week, experts from the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a mandate that expressed “serious concern” that such attacks had reached an “alarming level” and called on U.S. officials to do something about them.

“U.S. authorities have utterly failed to take the steps required to detect, monitor, and prevent racist and xenophobic incidents,” they wrote. “One result of this state of impunity is that, many victims of such attacks are reportedly reluctant to seek justice.”

“…[W]e urge that all necessary interim measures be taken to halt the alleged violations and prevent their re-occurrence and in the event that the investigations support or suggest the allegations to be correct, to ensure the accountability of any person(s) responsible for the alleged violations,” they added.

E. Tendayi Achiume, a special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, was one of the authors of the U.N. mandate.

“I think it’s absolutely the case that if you have the head of government speaking about groups in ways that stigmatizes them and associates them with the virus, it creates an environment where violence is more permissible and attacks are more permissible,” Achiume told NBC Asia America. “It really does legitimize those kinds of acts.”

Some places in the United States have already begun tackling the problem on their own. The New York Police Department, for instance, formed an Asian Hate Crime Task Force earlier this month — the first of its kind from the largest police department in the country, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The task force is “staffed by 25 detectives of Asian descent who speak a combined nine Asian languages,” the Journal wrote, and is “tasked with guiding victims through the justice system, from reporting a crime all the way to prosecution.”

Asian American lawmakers, meanwhile, are calling out Trump for continuing to fan the flames with his racist words.

“From the birther scandal to lies about immigrants to his attempt to blame China for his own failure to contain the coronavirus, Donald Trump has built his presidency on perpetuating conspiracy theories and racism,” Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said in a statement this month.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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