by Sarah Westwood, Investigative Reporter | | May 20, 2021 05:31 PM
Elaine Chao, former President Donald Trump’s transportation secretary, accused Democrats of a “double standard” when it comes to racism against Asian Americans, which she said she has faced while in office and while on the campaign trail.
“It’s just so funny, you know, that the Democrats, who claim to be the purveyors of anti-discrimination, and they accuse others of racism, they are the ones who accuse me of divided loyalties,” Chao told the Washington Examiner. “They’re the ones who question my ethnicity, question my patriotism, question the patriotism of my family and my husband.”
Chao said she has dealt with political attacks on her Chinese heritage while her husband, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has campaigned for reelection, including attacks that suggest she is more loyal to China than the United States.
In 2013, for example, a Democratic political action committee called Progress Kentucky said American jobs had moved to China because “this woman has the ear” of the Republican Senate leader.
Chao said she continued to face such discrimination even while serving in Trump’s Cabinet.
“I was consistently maligned, my reputation abused and attacked with baseless, false attacks,” she said.
Chao accused the media of amplifying racist attacks on people of color who happen to be Republicans.
“I think it’s hard to be an African American conservative, a Hispanic conservative, and it’s hard to be an Asian American conservative,” she said. “Somehow, if you are a conservative, a Republican, you are not deemed to be of your ethnic race.”
Chao also served as secretary of labor during the Bush administration and has had a string of high-level jobs in government. But she said her success has not shielded her from racism, writing in an op-ed last week that she recently received an email telling her to “go back to China.”
President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a bill aimed at addressing Asian American hate, which has been on the rise in the U.S.
According to Stop AAPI Hate, a group that advocates for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, there were more than 6,600 “hate incidents” against Asian Americans between March 2020 and March of this year.
Chao, who came to the U.S. from Taiwan when she was 8 years old, has previously spoken out against racism directed at Asian Americans.
After a shooter in Atlanta murdered six Asian women in an attack that was widely condemned as an act of hate, Chao called the shooting “vicious, unconscionable acts of violence.”
“The critical work to combat the haunting rise of hatred against the AAPI community must intensify with the immediacy this latest tragedy commands,” she said on March 18.