An elected official in Ohio made a powerful statement about anti-Asian violence during a town hall meeting this week when he showed off the scars he got while serving in the U.S. Army for 20 years.
“People question my patriotism, that I don’t look American enough, they cannot get over this face,” West Chester Township Trustee Lee Wong said as he removed his jacket and tie and unbuttoned his shirt.
“I don’t have to live in fear, intimidation or insults,” he continued.
“I’m 69 years old and I’m going to show you what patriotism, the questions about patriotism, looks like. Here is my proof,” said Wong, lifting up his shirt to reveal the scars.
“This is sustained from service in the U.S. military. Now is this patriot enough?”
“I’m not ashamed to walk around anymore,” declared Wong. “Before, I felt inhibited. People look at me strange, dare to question my loyalty to this country.”
“Last I read the U.S. Constitution, we are all the same. We are equal,” he said.
Watch the video here:
Wong, who describes himself as a moderate Republican, had earlier lamented putting up “with a lot of shit in silence … too afraid to speak out, fearing more abuse and discrimination.”
He recalled being hospitalized following a racist attack in Chicago soon after moving to the U.S. from Borneo when he was 18. The perpetrator was taken to court but “never got punished,” he said.
“In the last few years, things are getting worse and worse,” said Wong. “People, don’t get me wrong. People love me in this community, I love them too. But there are some ignorant people that will come up to me and say that I don’t look American or patriotic enough. Now that really gets my goat.”
Anti-Asian violence has spiked since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and earlier this month, a gunman killed eight people — six of them women of Asian descent — at Atlanta-area massage spas.
Video of Wong’s statement has gone viral on Twitter.
Wong told the Cincinnati Enquirer that his speech was unplanned but said “the timing was right in light of what’s happening in this country.”
“In that moment, I don’t know what came over me. I just knew I had to say something.”
Watch Wong’s address from the 25:30 mark below:
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