A New York congresswoman who introduced a bill condemning anti-Asian sentiment amid the COVID-19 pandemic received racist voicemails shortly after the legislation’s passing.
Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) introduced H.R. 908 in March, calling on all public officials to “condemn and denounce anti-Asian sentiment, racism, discrimination and religious intolerance related to COVID-19.” It also asked federal officials to “expeditiously” investigate and document all credible reports of hate crimes against the Asian American community and prosecute perpetrators.
On Sept. 17, the House voted 243-164 to pass the bill, with all nays coming from Republicans. Only 14 GOP members favored the legislation.
Meng shared the slew of offensive voicemails she has since received in a Twitter video over the weekend, calling them “the very things we collectively condemned.”
Last week my resolution condemning anti-Asian sentiment passed the House.
After that, I got many racist voicemails saying the very things we collectively condemned.
— Grace Meng (@RepGraceMeng) September 25, 2020
“Hey, you look like a Chinese virus, you fat slob. Or maybe ‘Kung Flu,’ you fat slob,” one caller said. “Or maybe Wuhan.”
Another opened with, “I’m calling about the ‘Karate Kid’ virus or the ‘Kung Flu’ virus.”
“I’ll call the FBI and put you in jail, you dumb*** motherf***er,” one caller threatened. “F*** you and f*** AOC.”
Meanwhile, another claimed, “It’s not racist, it’s the truth. Filthy people.”
Meng’s video included clips of President Donald Trump using some of those controversial terms, a rhetoric that has since been linked to the growing number of anti-Asian incidents in the country.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) both deemed that the use of such terms to refer to COVID-19 or its causative agent SARS-CoV-2 as inappropriate.
Trump, however, has consistently defended his language. “It’s not racist at all. It comes from China, that’s why,” he told reporters in March.
— Brian Yang (@briflys) September 18, 2020
“Anti-Asian hysteria and discrimination must end. I hope with the passage of my resolution, H. Res. 908, our nation will work toward that goal. We have a long way to go,” Meng concluded her video.
The fact that 164 Republicans voted against the bill has prompted Asian American personalities to speak out and urge others to vote wisely.
“I compiled the 164 House Repubs who just voted AGAINST a resolution to condemn anti-Asian sentiment, racism and discrimination. An easy slam dunk vote to publicly support our community as attacks on us rise. They were the ONLY ‘NO’ votes. This is what unashamed racism looks like,” wrote director and entrepreneur Philip Wang, sharing an image of all the members who voted no.
“I just read this bill. All it basically says is that Anti-Asian sentiment, racism and discrimination is wrong,” actor Daniel Dae Kim tweeted. “It asks for nothing more than that. Yet 164 members of Congress (all Republican) voted against it. #vote.”