Rep. Judy Chu and other House Democrats have fired back after a Republican congressman questioned her loyalty to the US using what they say is anti-Asian rhetoric.
On Wednesday, Representative Lance Gooden (R-Texas) appeared on a Fox News show to discuss President Biden’s appointment of Dominic Ng to lead the country’s trade interests in Asia. House Republicans, including Gooden, have written to the FBI claiming that Ng should be investigated for possible ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
Chu, along with other House Democrats, defended the nomination of Ng and expressed outrage at their colleagues’ attempts to undermine it on the allegations of right-wing outlets “with an extensive history of spreading misinformation”. Conservative news outlet The Daily Caller ran a story alleging Ng had ties to Chinese intelligence groups and may have violated espionage law. The outlet published similar claims about Chu.
“I think Judy Chu should be called out,” Gooden said during the interview. “I doubt her loyalty or ability. If she doesn’t realize what’s going on, she’s totally out of touch with one of her core constituents.”
Chu, who represents California’s 28th district, based in the San Gabriel Valley, called Gooden’s comments on Fox News questioning her loyalty to the US “absolutely outrageous.”
“It is based on false information spread by a far-right website,” Chu said in a statement. “Besides, it’s racist. I highly doubt he would be spreading these lies if I wasn’t of Chinese American descent.”
Chu took office in 2009 and became the first Chinese-American woman elected to Congress. Prior to that, she served on the Monterey Park City Council. She served three terms as mayor and was later elected to the state assembly.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), who represents California’s 36th district, also fired back, saying he served in the military defending Gooden’s “right to say stupid, racist s-“.
“Attacking the loyalties of Asian Americans like @RepJudyChu is a racist trope that has harmed Asian Americans throughout American history,” Lieu said on Twitter. “Stop harming Americans of Asian descent.”
Representative Hakeem Jeffries (DN.Y.) said Gooden’s “defamatory allegation of infidelity” directed at Chu was “dangerous, unscrupulous and xenophobic.”
Gooden’s office did not respond to a request for further comment. But in response to Jeffries, Gooden accused the House minority leader and Chu of “playing the race card in a morbid display of disloyalty to our nation.”
Other House Democrats, including Rep. Adam B. Schiff, denounced Gooden’s comments as “xenophobic and racist”. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus giving a statement say Gooden’s comments reflected racist profiling of Chinese Americans by right-wing extremists that was “incredibly dangerous.”
The current controversy comes amid an increase in violence against Asian Americans. During the pandemic, Asian Americans in California saw a three-digit percentage increase in hate crimes.
“After centuries of being targeted for not being ‘American enough’ and viewed with suspicion for looking ‘foreign’, this kind of innuendo and fear-mongering only further endangers our communities,” the members of the caucus said. “We hope that the leaders of the Republican House will join us in condemning these types of attacks on Chinese Americans, elected or not.”
In a statement, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee defended Chu’s “transformative contributions to the country and her community” and questioned why California Republican Representatives Michelle Steel and Young Kim, two of the first Korean-American women elected to Congress , Chu had not defended.
“Their embarrassing silence comes at a time when anti-Asian hate continues to threaten communities and Republicans continue to use dangerous misinformation for self-righteous power,” the commission said in a statement.
Last year, while campaigning for re-election, Steel was accused of “McCarthyism” after she ran ads about her Democratic opponent using heavily manipulated images and videos to tie him to the Chinese Community Party.