Target: Ed Royce, Los Angeles County Congressman
Goal: Congressman must admit to encouraging hate speech against opponent
Ed Royce, a Republican congressman in a Los Angeles County district, came under fire when his opponent, Jay Chen, started receiving emails and phone calls filled with racist hate speech. The racist messages only began after Royce’s campaign sent out a flyer accusing his opponent of receiving illegal financial contributions from China, implying that he was not truly American. The response from Royce’s supporters echoed the message of Chen being a foreigner who does not deserve the support of American citizens. Royce and his campaign must admit to contributing to this hate-filled backlash against his opponent, and ensure that his supporters know that these types of attacks are unacceptable.
In Royce’s attack ads, he accused the organization that financially supported Chen of being a Chinese organization funded exclusively by a Chinese businessman. Although it is true that the man who contributed to the campaign has a home in Hong Kong, the man is Chen’s brother who, like Chen, was born in the U.S. and currently lives in Los Angeles. His brother is a successful businessman who works overseas and chose to support Chen’s campaign. There is nothing illegal about the organization or its contributions, contrary to what Royce’s misleading ad implied. Unfortunately, Chen could not compete with the major corporations that contributed to Royce’s campaign, which kept him in the office that he has held for many years.
Royce’s ad painted his opponent as a foreigner, which prompted Royce’s supporters to accuse Chen of being a Communist who does not deserve to hold office in the United States. Additionally, many of the hateful messages from Royce’s supporters contained threats and anti-Asian slurs. Royce’s campaign did condemn the racist component, while at the same time accusing Chen’s campaign of lying about receiving those racist messages, even though some of them have been released publicly. Royce previously made his racist beliefs known when he stated his opposition to multiculturalism and supported legislation that would have made English the official language of the U.S.
Even though Royce’s campaign claimed to oppose the racist remarks made by his supporters, it is likely that his campaign ad led to those racist comments. Now that he has been re-elected as congressman of his increasingly diverse district, it is up to him to make sure the members of his district are aware that these types of remarks are unacceptable so that members of minority communities within the district do not have to experience this same type of discrimination. Royce must publicly condemn this racist behavior and admit to encouraging it through his campaign ad.
Dear Congressman Royce,
During your run for re-election, your campaign released an ad that attacked your opponent and accused him of receiving illegal contributions from China. In addition to being misleading, the ad implied that your opponent had anti-American motives and encouraged your supporters to fear him and his campaign.
In response, several of your supporters took to sending hateful messages, making phone calls using racist language, and putting up signs accusing your opponent of being a Communist. While you likely do not support this type of blatant racism, it is possible that your campaign’s ad influenced your supporters to behave in this unacceptable way. A significant percentage of your district is made up of Asian Americans who might encounter this same type of racism if you do not come out and publicly condemn the behavior of your supporters.
I am asking that you admit that your campaign ad was misleading and might have encouraged your supporters to make racist accusations against your opponent, and to inform your supporters that their attacks against your opponent were offensive and unacceptable.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: faul via Flickr.