EDITORIAL: Hawley’s vote against anti-Asian hate crime bill exemplifies his indifference toward Asian American lives
Hawley’s decision aligns with his past anti-Asian rhetoric, further alienating marginalized Missourians.
Apr. 23, 2021
On Thursday, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley was the lone vote against S.937, a bill that assigns a Justice Department official to analyze reports of hate crimes that are related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hawley’s vote against this bill signifies he feels indifferent toward Asian American lives and prioritizes political gain over the wellbeing of his constituents.
The bill was first proposed on March 11, 2021 by Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono to address the 150% surge in anti-Asian hate crimes from 2019 to 2020.
However, the bill’s significance increased as time progressed. On March 16, eight people were killed in Atlanta; six of them were Asian American. As of the same day, 3,795 hate crimes had been reported within the past year.
Hawley gave his reasoning for voting against the bill regarding it’s broad nature in a statement: “It’s dangerous to simply give the federal government open-ended authority to define a whole new class of federal hate crime incidents.”
He continued, criticizing the bill for being “hugely, hugely over broad” and said he feared the government’s “ability and power to define hate crimes,” calling the federal government the “speech police.”
The bill only has five sections and its objective is quite clear. Hawley’s claim that the bill is overly broad is simply an excuse to continue his hateful behavior without consequence.
Hawley’s apparent worry about the broad nature of defining hate crimes shows his only interest is protecting himself and other affiliates who have made racist comments in the past.
Hawley has a history of promoting conspiracy and hatred. A close ally of former President Donald Trump, he firmly challenged the 2020 election results and was partially responsible for the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Supporting Trump inherently supports Trump’s ideas, which have proven to result in racist acts. He referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” and created phrases such as “kung flu.” A report based on Twitter hashtag data shows that Trump’s racist scapegoating influenced the rise of anti-Asian hate content, which indirectly promoted anti-Asian hate crimes.
Asian Americans are underrepresented in Missouri and form only 2% of the state’s population. Likewise, out of MU’s 30,000 students, only 818 are Asian American, representing only 2% of the student population.
Sophomore Kolby Arimoto, a member of the MU Asian American Association, said Hawley’s vote makes the underrepresentation of Asian Americans harder for MU students.
“Voting against [the bill] shows a lack of solidarity within the Asian community, especially within Missouri, not only across the country but especially within his representative state,” Arimoto said. “And due to that — being Asian American — it honestly makes me scared to be on campus.”
Asian Americans deserve to be protected by their leaders. Hawley’s decision to vote against their safety completely disregards their right to live. Talk of a potential presidential run in 2024 surrounds Hawley’s political presence, and as residents of his home state, we demand better representation.
As for representing our state, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt will not be running for reelection in 2022. His departure could be an opportunity for Missouri to elect an official who will address the needs of the Asian American community, or it could lead to another official like Hawley.
Trump’s presidency influenced Hawley’s career, as Hawley saw Trump’s example as a vehicle to publish and promote his own ideas. Trump set the groundwork for an official like Hawley. Without any repercussions, Hawley could influence a 2022 candidate who wants the open spot as a Missouri Senator.
The 2021-2022 Maneater Editorial Board condemns Josh Hawley’s vote against the anti-Asian hate crime bill, a vote that endangers the lives of all Asian Americans. Despite this bill reaching a bipartisan consensus, Hawley decided to use his futile vote to make a symbolic gesture for the allowance of hate speech. His action reflects his moral character and proves his intentions do not represent all Missourians. This vote represents Hawley as a politician and the bigoted legacy he will leave as a Missouri senator.
Hawley has chosen the side of history he wants to be on, and Missouri voters will have the chance to do the same when they cast their vote for Missouri’s Senate seat in 2022. Those who voted for Josh Hawley gave him a platform for his hate speech and are indirectly responsible for the havoc he has caused. Anyone who votes for a Hawley-like candidate in 2022 will be responsible for their actions as well.
When it comes to the future of Missouri, voters must go beyond abiding by typical party lines. The implications of a vote extend far beyond election day, and Missouri voters must take this opportunity to right the wrong they made in voting Hawley into office in 2018.
To support Asian Americans, The Maneater encourages you donate to https://www.asianmhc.org/about-us/#donate