Senator Tom Cotton Faces Backlash for Grilling TikTok CEO on Citizenship

( – The journalist-elite class is mad at Senator Tom Cotton once again. This time, the indignation was sparked by Cotton’s grilling of TikTok chief executive Shou Zi Chew during a January 31st hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Along with much of the American public, Cotton wants answers from the heads of tech companies that own and market social media platforms. They say the products are leading to anxiety, confusion, and mental illness among children and teenagers who become easily addicted to the apps.

The hearing focused on children’s safety online and included the chief executives of the biggest social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Discord, and Snapchat. Obviously, Congress is considering whether to write laws restricting minors’ use of online chat systems.

The charge by some against Cotton is predictable: “racism.” Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, asked TikTok CEO Chew if he had “ever been a member of the Chinese Communist Party.” Instead of answering directly, Chew deftly set up a response that seemed meant to give an opening for critics to cry racism.

“Senator, I’m Singaporean,” she said. Cotton pressed on, asking him whether he had ever been affiliated in any way with the CCP. Chew took the same tack, again saying “I’m Singaporean.” The answer seemingly means to suggest that Cotton was engaging in ignorant racial stereotyping – that is, that he thought everyone who looked like Chew must be Chinese. Technically, three-quarters of the population of Singapore is in fact ethnically Chinese by descent.

Predictably, a journalist who lists “she/her” pronouns in her Twitter bio accused Cotton of exactly that. Heidi Moore, formerly of The Guardian and the NPR-distributed show Marketplace, jumped. She said Cotton’s question was a “phenomenal” demonstration of the extent of racism in the U.S. government. She directly accused Cotton of being unable to tell East Asians apart from one another.

The Asian American Pacific Islander Victory Fund said Cotton’s question was “deeply dangerous,” “disgraceful,” and “blatantly racist.”

Cotton faced similar hysteria from the staff of the New York Times in 2020 when he wrote an opinion column for the paper calling on President Biden to activate the National Guard to quell violent protests in American cities sparked by the death of George Floyd. The incident led to Times editor James Bennet resigning.

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