Representative Chip Roy (R., Texas) is defending the opening statement he delivered at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on violence and discrimination against Asian-Americans on Thursday, after drawing criticism from Democratic lawmakers and liberal outlets for asserting that criminals should face harsh penalties.
“Apparently some folks are freaking out that I used an old expression about finding all the rope in Texas and a tall oak tree about carrying out justice against bad guys. I meant it,” Roy said in a subsequent statement, obtained by National Review.
“We need more justice and less thought policing. We need to stop evil doers, such as those who carried out the attack in Atlanta this week, or cartels abusing little children, or those who kill our cops on the streets,” he continued. “We should restore order by tamping out evil actors, not turn America into an authoritarian state like the Chinese Communists who seek to destroy us. No apologies.”
During the hearing, Roy – the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary — condemned the recent Atlanta shootings that killed six Asian women and eight people total, saying that “the victims of race-based violence and their families deserve justice.”
Suspect Robert Aaron Long, who took “full responsibility” for the heinous deeds told police that he was not racially motivated, but rather lashed out in response to a “sex addiction.”
Roy then pivoted, warning his colleagues and hearing participants that “my concern about this hearing is that it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric in a free society, free speech — and away from the rule of law and taking out bad guys.”
“We believe in justice. There’s an old saying in Texas about ‘find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree.’ You know, we take justice very seriously. And we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys. That’s what we believe,” Roy continued, referencing the lyrics of a Toby Keith song.
While some have argued that increasing incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes stem principally from anti-Chinese rhetoric over COVID-19, Roy pushed back on the assertion.
“Now we’re talking about whether talking about China, the ‘ChiComs,’ the Chinese Communist Party, whatever phrasing we want to use, and if some people are saying, ‘hey, we think those guys are the bad guys,’ for whatever reason . . . I’m not going to be ashamed of saying that I oppose the ChiComs. I oppose the Chinese Communist Party,” Roy said.
“When we say things like that and we’re talking about that, we shouldn’t be worried about having a committee of members of Congress policing our rhetoric because some evil-doers go engage in some evil activity, as occurred in Atlanta, Georgia,” he added. “Because when we start policing free speech we’re doing the very thing that we’re condemning when we condemn what the Chinese Communist Party does to their country.”
Roy’s comments drew an immediate rebuke from Judiciary chairman Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.), who remarked that “the incidents I mentioned in my opening statement — being spat at, slapped in the face, lit on fire, slashed with a box cutter, and shoved violently to the ground, as the video showed — that’s not speech.”
Later in the hearing, Representative Grace Meng (D., N.Y.) also pushed back. “Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don’t have to do it by putting a bullseye on the back of Asian-Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids,” she said to Roy, fighting back tears. “This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community and to find solutions, and we will not let you take our voice away from us.”
The Daily Beast also criticized Roy for his Texas line with a piece titled “GOP Rep. Extols Lynchings During Hearing on Anti-Asian American Violence,” and accused him of “deploying some whataboutist logic.”
Citing the alleged rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that NYPD officers should be empowered to visit New Yorkers at their homes to deliver “warnings” if they are reported for “harmful” behavior.
“Even if something is not a criminal case, a perpetrator being confronted by the city, whether it’s NYPD or another agency, and being told that what they’ve done was very hurtful to another person—and could, if ever repeated, lead to criminal charges—that’s another important piece of the puzzle,” de Blasio said at a press conference.
When asked by Wall Street Journal reporter Katie Hogan how that process would work, de Blasio answered that the NYPD is already trained to deal with these types of incidents.
“The NYPD is a great example: one of the things officers are trained to do is to give warnings,” de Blasio said. “If someone has done something wrong, but not rising to a criminal level, it’s perfectly appropriate for an NYPD officer to talk to them to say, ‘that was not appropriate, and if you did that on a higher level, that would be a crime.’ I think that has an educating impact on people.”