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In a bizarre moment at a campaign rally in Iowa, Senator and presidential candidate Tim Scott baselessly pushed a xenophobic conspiracy that Chinese college students may be spies.
“We have 300,000 Chinese students on college campuses across this country,” Scott (R-S.C.) said, seemingly unprompted.
“I am concerned that we are more interested in their tuition than we are to whether they are reporting back to the Chinese Communist Party.”
Scott went on to talk about “Confucius Institutes” and “Chinese police stations” in the two minute monologue.
“If you’re going to be an American, you need to assimilate to being American,” Scott continued. “If you’re not going to assimilate, you ought to not come.”
Scott subtly cast aspersions on Chinese-American military members, adding “if we don’t protect us, there’s no one coming.”
Since COVID, political dialogue about Chinese government influence has quickly morphed into increasingly racist remarks about Chinese Americans.
Reports of anti-Asian hate crimes have increased exponentially over the past three years.
In 2021, a white gunman targeted multiple businesses across the Atlanta area, shooting and killing Asian women.
Now, the rhetoric from the highest levels of political leadership in the country is threatening to worsen already dangerous levels of hate.
On X (Twitter), backlash against Scott’s remarks was swift.
Users on the platform called Scott’s remarks “unhinged”, “insane”, “racist” and “gross behavior”.
Others compared the rhetoric to the “red scare” of the 1950s.
“Full blown McCarthyism is back,” one user wrote.
Before this exchange, Scott’s standing in the Republican primary for president was already declining.
His poll numbers in the pivotal state of Iowa have been nearly cut in half in the last two months. Recent reports indicate his campaign is having to reallocate all resources to the state in hopes of boosting his standing.
In an op-ed last month, conservative columnist George Will called on Scott to drop out of the race and endorse Nikki Haley.
Despite Will’s advice, Scott has chosen to stay in the race; spreading xenophobic conspiracy theories about Chinese college students from small stages in Iowa.
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