Mar 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McConnell says Asian Americans "should not experience discrimination"

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Mitch McConnell. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — whose wife is of Asian heritage — addressed this week's mass shooting in Georgia by saying Thursday that "Asian Americans should not have to experience discrimination anywhere."

What he's saying: “Committing a crime against anyone because of his or her national origin or race is deeply wrong and antithetical to our founding principles," McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement to Axios.

  • McConnell spoke two days after the attack that killed eight — six of them Asian Americans.
  • While police have yet to label it a hate crime, it sparked fear among Asian Americans across the country and a public reckoning about their treatment growing from a string of prior attacks.

Why it matters: McConnell, the most prominent Republican in the Senate, had yet to publicly weigh in on Tuesday's shooting.

  • Questions about his views were especially pointed because his wife, Elaine Chao, who served as Transportation secretary under President Trump, was born in Taipei, Taiwan. She emigrated to the United States when she was eight years old.
  • Critics blamed Trump's rhetoric against China following the outbreak of the coronavirus for fueling an uptick in anti-Asian violence across the U.S.
  • The former president labeled COVID-19 the "Chinese virus," "Wuhan virus" and "kung flu."

Go deeper: The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University found that anti-Asian hate crimes reported to police in America's largest cities jumped nearly 150% in 2020.

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