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Tammy Duckworth on anti-Asian American hate crimes: We "are still viewed as an other"

Senator Duckworth speaks out on anti-Asian bias
"I still get asked, 'Where are you from?'" Senator Tammy Duckworth speaks out against recent spike in anti-Asian rhetoric and violence 10:38

Senator Tammy Duckworth partly blamed former President Trump's rhetoric for a rise in violence against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Trump often referred to the virus as the "Chinese virus" and on several occasions even called it "Kung Flu." 

"It did not help the situation," the Illinois Democrat told "Red and Blue" anchor Elaine Quijano on Wednesday. "Frankly, it's appalling that it's been allowed to become this bad." 

More than 3,000 incidents against Asian Americans have been reported nationwide since the start of the pandemic, according to the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate. 

While testifying before Congress this week, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau was "concerned" about hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 

"We are investigating, where we have facts sufficient to do that," Wray said. "We've put out intelligence reports to our partners about hate crimes against that community in particular. It's something we take very seriously." 

Duckworth said she was grateful President Biden has changed the tune. Mr. Biden signed an executive order on January 26 that condemned racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He also linked his predecessor's rhetoric to the surge in crimes.

"But we have a long way to go in this country," Duckworth said. "Asian Americans are still viewed as an other. I still get asked, 'Where are you from originally?' I'm like, well actually, my ancestors have been here since before the revolution, so let's talk about where you're from." 

Duckworth said Mr. Biden has done a "good job" elevating Asian Americans and their concerns, but she wants to see more Asian Americans nominated to prominent roles in his administration. Mr. Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, who is Asian American, withdrew her nomination Tuesday after it appeared likely she would not have enough votes to be confirmed. Some Democrats suggested she faced a double standard over her behavior because she's a woman of color. 

"I think she was subject to discrimination as a woman of color," Duckworth said. "I feel like there was a real reaction to her. The same Republican legislators who wanted to forgive acts by former Republican nominees seemed to then go after her for the very same type of tweets and the like." 

Duckworth said she has asked the Biden administration to nominate another Asian American to replace Tanden. Top Democrats, however, are pushing Shalanda Young, who is Black, to lead the Office of Management and Budget. 

"I've sent them some great names," Duckworth said. 

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