In an op-ed entitled “Texas Republicans must reject Sery Kim for her anti-Chinese rant,” Olsen, a conservative, writes:
(Kim) started her remarks by alleging that the Chinese government had “created coronavirus in a Wuhan lab,” an unproved claim. But she really lost it when asked a question about Chinese immigration to the United States. “I don’t want them here at all,” she said. “They steal our intellectual property, they give us coronavirus, they don’t hold themselves accountable. And quite frankly, I can say that because I’m Korean.”
Slandering the Chinese is now practically a point of pride among Republicans, of course, as Kim demonstrates by prominently featuring the video of her remarks on her official website. And despite the huge spike in violence directed at Asian Americans as a direct result of hateful rhetoric, Republican officials continue to gleefully promote the theory that the COVID-19 virus was created in a Wuhan laboratory. They continue to deliberately insert the words “Chinese virus” into public statements about the pandemic, as they were instructed to do at its outset. It’s a calculated ploy to shift the blame from Donald Trump’s wretched response to a crisis that has left 560,000 Americans dead; it has been standard operating procedure for the GOP since the pandemic began.
So what could possibly be the problem with a former Trump official echoing Trump’s own bigoted verbiage? After all, as Olsen notes, under Texas’ special elections law, Kim is competing with about 20 other announced candidates in the primary; the top two vote-earners (regardless of party) advance to the general election. So why shouldn’t Kim go full-on Trump and turn on the bigotry spout full blast? That’s what Trump voters want, after all.
The problem, as the Republican Party is belatedly realizing, is that Asian Americans vote. And as a result of the biased rhetoric spewed by Trump, many Republican elected officials, including Sery Kim, Asian American voters are gradually, but unmistakably, moving towards the Democratic Party. Additionally, being Korean is no insulation from anti-Asian hate. According to Stop AAPI Hate’s research, less than half (42.2%) of such incidents target people who are of Chinese descent.
That’s why it’s no surprise that, immediately after Kim’s anti-Chinese rant her two elected Republican endorsers, Reps. Kim and Steel, spoke up.
Reps. Young Kim and Michelle Park Steel had both won tight races against Democratic incumbents in California’s Orange County, and they understood just how damaging Sery Kim’s words were. They urged her to “apologize and clarify her remarks,” but Kim refused. They then pulled their endorsements in a joint statement that said her “hurtful and untrue comments about Chinese immigrants … were contrary to what we stand for.” Kim remains unrepentant, saying that she is the victim of “the liberal media.”
As if to underscore her petulant whining over this criticism of her statements, Kim has also filed a patently meritless lawsuit accusing the Texas Tribune of defaming her because its reporting on the GOP forum characterized those same remarks as racist.
In this Kim is simply following the Trump playbook, wearing her bigotry proudly, like a badge of honor. But for those two Republican congresswomen—both of whom won by narrow margins in California—they can’t afford to lose any of the Asian vote. And now they’ve foolishly endorsed, however fleetingly, a bigot who is actively and openly fanning the flames of hate and violence towards Asian Americans.
It’s not hard to imagine their as-yet unannounced 2022 Democratic opponents are, most assuredly, already planning the negative ads.
Back at the Post, Olsen—a staunch right-winger—sees the red lights flashing.
Liberals in and out of the media would love to paint the GOP as racist.
Kim’s anti-Chinese views would simply offer them an easy target to take aim at every single day.
Whether or not Texas Republicans will heed Olsen’s call to “reject Sery Kim for her anti-Chinese rant” remains to be seen. But what Olsen is too afraid to acknowledge is that Kim is very much a product of her own party’s enduring and willful embrace of bigotry, which has only solidified after four years under Donald Trump. That the GOP’s embrace of hate-motivated rhetoric would cause a substantial bloc of Asian Americans to turn away from the Republican Party probably did not occur to anyone at the time. But like elections (and endorsements), bigotry comes with consequences. Republicans are now being forced to deal with those consequences, in ways they never expected.