Of course Josh Hawley was the only no on anti-Asian hate crime bill. That’s his brand

The Kansas City Star Editorial Board
·3 min read

Sen. Josh Hawley, last seen encouraging a riot at the U.S. Capitol, now thinks America is too tough on hate crimes.

That’s the only logical conclusion one can draw from Hawley’s vote Thursday against a bill designed to limit assaults and murders based on ethnic hate, including hate of Asian Americans.

In a statement, Hawley explained his opposition to the law this way: “It’s too broad. As a former prosecutor, my view is it’s dangerous to simply give the federal government open-ended authority to define a whole new class of federal hate crime incidents.”

Hawley, who had just been elected Missouri’s attorney general when he started running for the U.S. Senate, is not even right about being a former prosecutor, though the AG’s office does have certain prosecutorial powers.

And the law does not give the government “open-ended authority.”

Here’s what it says: “The United States condemns and denounces any and all anti-Asian and Pacific Islander sentiment in any form.” That’s a welcome and needed response to increasing cases of violence against Asian Americans, including a deadly shooting in Georgia.

Among other things, the bill would require the attorney general to appoint someone to monitor hate crimes related to the COVID-19 pandemic, giving those crimes “expedited review.” It also tells the Justice Department to issue guidance for state and local authorities in responding to COVID-19 hate crimes.

The bill, originally introduced by Democratic Sen. Maize Hirono of Hawaii, isn’t limited to hate crimes involving Asian American victims. It also includes grants to local authorities to monitor hate crimes, which is critical in preventing them.

Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican from Kansas, supported the measure Thursday. He referred to a spate of hate crimes in his home state in recent years, including the Jewish Community Center shootings in Overland Park, the bombing plot against Somalis in western Kansas and the murder of an Indian immigrant in Olathe.

“These were high-profile, well-publicized incidents of hate,” Moran said on the Senate floor. These and similar incidents need law enforcement scrutiny “so the Department of Justice can properly analyze the data.”

In short, there is nothing in the bill that is an overreach, unless you think ethnic assaults and murders are acceptable. That’s why 94 U.S. senators approved the legislation Thursday, in a rare show of bipartisanship.

Except, of course, for Missouri’s Hawley. He was the only recorded no vote (five senators were absent.)

Saying the measure is too broad makes no sense, except in the context of his ongoing attempts to set himself apart as the most extreme on any issue.

His unquenchable thirst for Fox News appearances and fundraising cash continues to make this country unsafe, whether it’s from a gang of rioters pushing through the Capitol’s windows or from some lone gunman feverishly surfing the internet for anti-Semitic, or anti-Asian, or anti-Black, or anti-American messages.

There is too much bloodshed in this nation. Given a chance to help slow it down, Sen. Hawley demurred, then headed for another camera.

Missouri voters can’t replace Sen. Hawley until 2024, but can let him know that his vote was wrong.

That’s what the proprietor of the Cafe Cà Phê, “Kansas City’s first mobile Vietnamese coffeeshop,” did on Thursday, tweeting, “Everyone is welcomed at Cafe Cà Phê. Except Josh Hawley.”