Texas Republican Representative Chip Roy sparked outrage following comments glorifying lynchings during a congressional hearing about the wave of anti-Asian violence in America over the past year.
Roy's comments came just one day after the murder of six Asian women in Atlanta by a White male assailant.
Roy said his quip about lynching was a folksy "old saying" in Texas—a claim that had many on social media crying foul.
"There's old sayings in Texas about find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree. You know, we take justice v… https://t.co/mUHuJuOvFN— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1616078080.0
Roy's comments came just after he attempted to shift the conversation away from anti-Asian violence and onto violence against Americans at the southern border with Mexico—a pet cause of Republican politicians despite the fact it is a rare occurrence.
Roy then called for justice by way of celebrating his home state's history of lynchings.
"There's old sayings in Texas about find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree. You know, we take justice very seriously, and we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys."
Lynchings—the hanging of people, usually people of color and often for public audiences—were a common way of enforcing racist laws and conventions against people of color. Texas is among the states that had the highest rates of the practice.
In October of 1871, a violent mob of mostly White men attacked China Town in Los Angeles, vandalizing businesses and attacking residents. An estimated 20 men of Chinese descent were lynched by the violent mob.
Given that history, Roy's comments are bad enough on their face. But then the real origin of his words came to light. They're not an "old saying" at all, it turns out.
They're verbatim lyrics from a song called "Beer for My Horses" by controversial right wing country singer Toby Keith.
Keith is perhaps best known for his 2002 song "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" written in response to the September 11 terror attacks and released during the lead-up to the Iraq War, in which he tells an unnamed enemy "we'll put a boot in your a**, it's the American way."
Hardly a wise old Texan spinning folksy yarns as Roy claimed—and on Twitter, people weren't about to let him get away with it.
Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) paraphrased a Toby Keith song as an "old saying" in Texas about using rope and a tre… https://t.co/PQ2SRJGRza— JRehling (@JRehling) 1616084162.0
Chip Roy ripping off a Toby Keith lyric and pretending it's just an old saying he heard is peak Texas carpet-bagging https://t.co/cnjf1j0fVv— Christian Vanderbrouk (@Christian Vanderbrouk) 1616104885.0
So I had to see why Toby Keith was trending and saw Chip Roy's comments and all I could think of was this Key & Pee… https://t.co/NSElFyOyaQ— Stacey Higginbotham (@Stacey Higginbotham) 1616100420.0
THIS DUDE QUOTED BEER FOR MY HORSES. OH MY GOD THIS COUNTRY IS A JOKE. THIS PLACE IS A DANE COOK RANT TOLD BY A JEFF DUNHAM PUPPET.— cute under the mask leave me alone (@cute under the mask leave me alone) 1616093155.0
@jason_a_w Rep. Chip Roy quoted an “old Texas saying” that turned out to just be Toby Keith lyrics— Post-Culture Review (@Post-Culture Review) 1616091536.0
Why would anyone invoke lynching when speaking about hate crimes? Chip Roy are you saying you're pro lynching & hat… https://t.co/TnHZaYCBar— Principessa Sandra (@Principessa Sandra) 1616085284.0
So Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) first misremembered a Toby Keith song as, “old saying in Texas”. But then, he was proud of… https://t.co/eC9FE0f4Tg— Jason Bourne (@Jason Bourne) 1616087462.0
Roy also used his time at the hearing to rail against the Chinese government, which he called "the Chicoms," a portmanteau of "Chinese" and "communists." Right-wing government officials' anti-Chinese sentiment and disinformation about China's role in the pandemic are believed by many to be the cause of the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes that precipitated the hearing.