GOP lawmaker stands by lynching comments at House hearing

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(CBS NEWS) — Republican Congressman Chip Roy of Texas made what appeared to be a pro-lynching remark during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the rise in anti-Asian American violence and discrimination on Thursday. His comments were immediately criticized by other lawmakers at the hearing, but he responded in a statement afterward saying “I meant it.” 

“We believe in justice. There are old sayings in Texas about find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree,” Roy said at the hearing on Thursday. “We take justice very seriously. And we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys. That’s what we believe,” he added. “My concern about this hearing is that it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric in a free society, free speech, and away from the rule of law and taking out bad guys.”

Roy also railed against the “Chinese Communist Party” and suggested the hearing was trying to police “rhetoric in a free society.”  

Representative Grace Meng of New York, who is first vice chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and testified on Thursday, responded forcefully to Roy’s remarks. 

Meng said Republicans and former President Trump had helped incite violence against Asian Americans by using language like the “China virus” to describe the coronavirus.

“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 bull’s-eye on the back of Asian Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids. This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community, to find solutions, and we will not let you take our voice away from us,” Meng said.

In a statement after the hearing, Roy defended his comments emphasizing that “more justice” was needed in race-related violence.

“Apparently some folks are freaking out that I used an old expression about finding all the rope in Texas and a tall oak tree about carrying out justice against bad guys. I meant it,” Roy said. “We need more justice and less thought policing. We need to stop evil doers, such as those who carried out the attack in Atlanta this week, or cartels abusing little children. … We should restore order by tamping out evil actors, not turn America into an authoritarian state like the Chinese communists who seek to destroy us.”

Roy added: “No apologies.”

But social media users pointed out the line Roy used wasn’t a known saying in Texas — but that it was similar to a lyric from a song by country singers Toby Keith and Willie Nelson called “Beer for My Horses.” The song includes the line “Take all the rope in Texas, find a tall oak tree, round up all of them bad boys, hang them high in the street.”

Asian Americans were subjected to nearly 3,800 hate incidents over the last year, according to a report released by Stop AAPI Hate. Verbal harassment and shunning accounted for 68% of the incidents and physical violence accounted for 11%, with over 503 reports of violence in 2021 alone, the report said. These incidents illustrate the wave of violence the Asian community has faced throughout the coronavirus pandemic

Thursday’s hearing was scheduled before a gunman opened fire at three Atlanta-area spas, killing eight people, including six women of Asian descent, dead. The suspected gunman, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, denied the attack was racially motivated but officials said it was still too early to rule out a hate crime. Long told investigators he had a “sex addiction” and viewed the spas as a temptation he wanted to eliminate, officials said.

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