Denouncing "violent" attacks on the Asian Americans, Biden in his first prime-time address to the nation since assuming office in January, said that members of the community were harassed, blamed and scapegoated.
A surge in anti-Asian attacks has been reported since the start of the pandemic. It has left Asian Americans across the country scared and concerned. The actual number of hate incidents against them could be even higher, according to a civil rights group.
Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition aimed at addressing anti-Asian discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic, received more than 2,800 firsthand reports of anti-Asian hate, including physical and verbal assaults, between March 19 and December 31, 2020, the National Public Radio (NPR) reported.
Recent attacks, including multiple violent attacks on elderly Asian Americans, have sparked outrage and activism in the Asian American community and spurred lawmakers and organisers to respond to the threat.
Biden said that during this coronavirus pandemic too often, Americans turned against one another.
“A mask, the easiest thing to do to save lives sometimes, it divides us. States pitted against one another instead of working with each other; vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed, and scapegoated,” Biden said.
“At this very moment, so many of them are our fellow Americans on the front lines of this pandemic trying to save lives, and still they are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It's wrong, it's un-American, and it must stop,” Biden said.
Biden’s reference to the hate crime against Asian Americans was welcomed by Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna.
“Thank you” President Biden “for speaking up clearly and forcefully against the scapegoating of Asian Americans,” Khanna said in a tweet.
Congressman Ted Lieu also thanked Biden for the strong words to protect Americans of Asian descent, and for the executive order to combat hate crimes.
"This is in stark contrast to the former President who made racist remarks like “Kung Flu” that inflamed prejudices against Asian Americans,” Lieu said.
Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris said that hate of any kind is simply unacceptable.
“Right now, Asian Americans and Asian immigrants in our country are facing an increase in hate and violence,” the first Asian-American US Vice President said.
Biden and Harris said “are committed to working with the community to ensure all Americans are protected and respected.”
On January 26, Biden issued the “Presidential Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
It mandates that the Attorney General shall explore opportunities to prevent discrimination, bullying, harassment, and hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) individuals, and expand collection of data and public reporting regarding hate incidents against such individuals.
The reported incidents range from verbal harassments to physical altercations.