BALTIMORE — Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) on Thursday said Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Texas) questioning her loyalty to the U.S. “lays the groundwork” for more hate to be directed at members of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
“It’s outrageous, it’s racist, it’s disgusting,” said Chu, the first Chinese American congresswoman. “And it just lays the groundwork for questioning AAPIs in this country, and it lays the groundwork for more anti-AAPI hate.”
She emphasized the importance of pushing back on comments like Gooden’s to prevent the sentiment from being applied in other settings.
“It was shocking and outrageous that Congressmember Gooden would question my loyalty based on falsehoods that were spread by an extreme right-wing website,” Chu told The Hill. “And that’s why it was so important for us to push back because sometimes if you don’t push back, these rumors take a life of their own, and then people like Gooden would go after even other people.”
Chu offered her rebuke during a press conference alongside other members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) at the House Democrats’ issues conference, which is taking place in Baltimore this week. Members of the group discussed the newly created select committee on China and President Biden’s appointment of Julie Su as the next Labor Secretary, among other topics.
Gooden, during an interview on Fox News last week, suggested Chu should not receive access to sensitive classified materials because she defended Dominic Ng, President Biden’s pick to lead U.S. trade interests in Asia. A group of House Republicans has asked the FBI to investigate allegations that Ng has ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
“I question her either loyalty or competence,” Gooden said about Chu. “If she doesn’t realize what’s going on then she’s totally out of touch with one of her core constituencies.”
Days later, after receiving bipartisan pushback on the comment, Gooden doubled down, saying “It’s not ‘xenophobic’ to question where her loyalty lies.” He pointed to Chu’s opposition to establishing a select committee focused on China, and he linked to reporting from The Daily Caller that said she was appointed to an honorary position for a group that has ties to the Communist Party of China.
According to a Stop AAPI Hate national report released last March, the number of hate incidents against AAPI individuals reported to the group increased from 2020 to 2021: In 2020, the group counted 4,632 incidents; in 2021 that number increased to 6,273.
Chu on Thursday juxtaposed Gooden’s comments about her loyalty to the congressman’s vote to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6, 2021.
“This comes from a Congressmember, Lance Gooden, who supports the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. They were willing to overturn the election results — how is that being loyal to America?” she said.
Other members of CAPAC condemned Gooden’s comments at Thursday’s press conference.
“We were all shocked by Republican Lance Gooden’s unpatriotic, unAmerican attack on Congresswoman Judy Chu,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), the vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus.
“There is no relationship, none, zero, between an American who happens to be of Asian descent and foreign governments,” he added. “When people confuse foreign governments with American who happen to be of Asian descent you get into all sorts of problems. That’s what Republican Lance Gooden did, and hopefully that does not ever happen again.”
Asked if she thinks Gooden should receive some form of punishment for his remarks, Chu said she first wants to hear an apology from Gooden. Lawmakers who have made controversial comments in the past have been censured or stripped of their committee assignments.
“I think there should be a very strong demand for him to apologize. And, you know, we’ll see what happens from here,” she told The Hill.
“All the community groups, all the advocacy groups, many of the Democratic leaders have demanded for him to apologize, and I want to see how he responds to that,” she added.