During a House Judiciary markup on Tuesday, Rep. Dan Bishop (R, NC-8) said he did not know what the acronym for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) stood for.
Bishop, a Republican from Charlotte, North Carolina, rejected a declaration of congressional support for federal action against hate crimes involving AAPI communities, white nationalism and antisemitism.
Bishop said that he did not understand why the amendment was part of Tuesday’s discussions on the House Judiciary Committee’s authorization and oversight plan.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D, CA-28), a Democrat from California, proposed the amendment to the committee’s oversight plan, citing a “very simple, straightforward amendment” to “support federal efforts to combat domestic violent extremism, with a particular focus on crimes motivated by bigotry.”
In 2020, hate crimes in the U.S. rose by 30% to the country’s highest levels in 12 years. According to a study by the FBI, 60% of the crimes were perpetrated because of a person’s ethnicity, race or ancestry.
Crimes against Asian Americans notably increased by 70%, prompting Congress to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in 2021.
However, the committee’s conversation led to arguments regarding white nationalism, Christianity and “wokeism.”
Bishop said Schiff’s amendment appeared to be advocating for “wokeism.”
While Bishop was reading the document, he asked Schiff what AAPI stood for.
“Candidly, I’m sure I should know what the acronym ‘AAPI’ is. I don’t know what that is,” he said. “I just don’t know the acronym because I don’t focus on that all the time.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D, WA-7), who was previously the target of a hate crime, informed Bishop that the country has a population of 22 million AAPIs.
In Bishop’s district, more than 17,000 people reportedly identify as Asian and nearly 100 as Pacific Islanders.
Although Schiff offered to remove the word “support” and replace it with a call to “oversee” the federal efforts, the amendment failed 21-10.
“I find it astounding that an amendment that says we should support efforts to combat domestic violent extremism in the United States in these forums has opposition, that that’s somehow considered woke,” he said. “I would submit that those that think we’re not seeing an explosion of hate are asleep and maybe they should wake up.”
Schiff said he believes that Bishop did not want the amendment because it would take away efforts to look into “deep-state conspiracy theories.”
We don’t need to look into deep-state conspiracy theories when we’ve got abundant evidence of domestic violence extremism and we have a rise of each and every form of hate. We see it escalating in social media, we see it motivating people to commit mass shootings. It seems like every week we have an anniversary of another terrible tragedy motivated by hate as well as a new crime committed because of hate, so I hope we would both support and oversee our efforts to make sure we’re bringing maximum resources to bear to confront this predominant terrorism threat because this is where it’s coming from now — it’s coming from within.