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Rep. Ted Lieu responds to being called an 'agent of China'

Lieu told a social media user that he “served on active duty in the United States military to defend your right to say stupid, racist s--t about me.”
Image: Rep. Ted Lieu
Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., in his office in Washington in February 2015.Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call via AP file

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., fired back on Twitter Friday after a social media user accused him of being an “agent of China.”

Lieu, who served in the Air Force and is currently in the reserve, had a sharp response after being accused of spreading Chinese propaganda. The Twitter user also called for Lieu to be charged with treason.

“I served on active duty in the United States military to defend your right to say stupid, racist s--t about me,” he tweeted.

The Twitter user had responded to Lieu's previous tweet that criticized those who still believe COVID-19 is "just like the flu." Lieu, who is known to be a vocal member of the House, told NBC Asian America that speaking up comes with a “fair share” of racist replies. He explained that his duty to defending the Constitution and calling out racism are not mutually exclusive concepts.

“When I served in the Air Force, and as a Member of Congress, I took an oath to defend the Constitution,” he said. “The First Amendment allows for people to make racist statements. At the same time, we need to stand up to racists. The First Amendment allows for that, too."

The racist social media post comes during a time when Asian Americans have been confronting a rise in racist attacks and hate violence tied the coronavirus pandemic. Reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate has received more than 1,110 self-reported incidents of hate, including assault and vandalism, from March 19 to April 1. Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii spearheaded a letter to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Friday, calling for the issuance of official guidance to federal agencies on preventing and addressing anti-Asian racism and xenophobia.