Last March, Texas Democrats demanded that Rep. Chip Roy resign after the Texas Republican made blatantly hateful statements during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on hate crimes against Asian Americans. Just days earlier, a racist gunman targeting Asian women had gone on a killing spree in Atlanta that left eight people dead. Roy called for bringing the “bad guys” to “justice” — and favorably invoked the legacy of lynching in Texas, where a white supremacist campaign of organized terror led to the extrajudicial murders of more than 600 people between 1882 and 1945.
Asian American lawmakers were outraged. Rep. Ted Lieu of California tweeted about a Los Angeles lynch mob that murdered 17 to 20 Chinese immigrants in 1871. Meanwhile, Roy was angered by advocates who warned Republicans that calling COVID-19 the “China virus” put Asian people in danger. He refused to apologize for favorably invoking the legacy of lynching, insisting in a statement to the Austin-American Statesmen that his critics were “thought policing” like “Communist China.” Roy’s stunt, of course, had not been censored; it was picked up by media outlets and presumably put into the congressional record.
This week, Roy was going on again about “thought police” — this time, in a speech against the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022, which Democrats rushed to update and pass in the House in the wake of the racist massacre at a supermarket in Buffalo. The bill would require federal agencies to document and report domestic terrorism threats, including white supremacists and neo-Nazis inside law enforcement agencies. Roy said the legislation would “target us for what we believe.”
All but one House Republican voted against the domestic terror prevention bill, including lawmakers who supported a previous version back in 2020, just a few months before former President Trump’s lies about a stolen election would inspire a right-wing mob to invade the U.S. Capitol and call for Vice President Mike Pence to hang in the gallows (which apparently pleased Trump). Senate Republicans unanimously blocked the bill, and with it, any debate on gun safety and hate crimes in the wake of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers before police finally entered the school and killed him.
The domestic terrorism bill would not provide law enforcement with new powers or authority to surveil and make arrests; instead, it would direct federal agencies to establish offices focused on the threat of white supremacist terrorism and report any findings to Congress. Republican opposition to the bill appears to have been triggered by its focus on white supremacists, who are widely considered the greatest domestic terror threat. Thanks to Trump and others on the far right, white supremacist ideologies such as “replacement theory” that motivated the Buffalo gunman are going mainstream among GOP voters.