Reason Roundup

Senate Passes Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Bill That Doesn't Prohibit Discrimination in College Admissions

Plus: Biden proposes a massive tax hike, scientists may have invented a successful malaria vaccine, and more...


The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that purportedly combats anti-Asian hate on Thursday. The vote was 94–1.

The bill would create a new position within the Justice Department to review anti-Asian hate crimes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also requires the Department of Health and Human Services to issue guidance on preventing anti-Asian discrimination.

"There has been a dramatic increase in hate crimes and violence against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders," the bill asserts. (It explicitly names the Atlanta spa killings as an example of this, though it's not actually clear the shooter was motivated by anti-Asian animus.)

The lone dissenter on the vote was Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo).

"As a former prosecutor, my view is it's dangerous to simply give the federal government open-ended authority to define a whole new class of federal hate crime incidents," said Hawley in a statement.

He has a point, though this bill is not particularly vast or sweeping. The stronger argument against the bill is that it does nothing to address one of the most obvious—and odious—forms of anti-Asian discrimination: college admissions.

Many elite colleges, public universities, and even selective high schools explicitly discriminate against Asian applicants in order to artificially tinker with the racial makeup of the campus population. This means that Asian students whose grades and test scores would have gained them admission had they been white, black, or Hispanic are routinely turned away. Contrary to popular belief, the biggest beneficiaries of these schemes are often white students.

Courts have generally held that race-based admissions do not violate civil rights law if they are very narrowly tailored. But Congress could explicitly require educational institutions that receive federal dollars to cease discriminating against Asian applicants. (They could even call it an antiracist initiative.)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) proposed an amendment to the bill along these lines, but it was defeated in a close vote: 48–49. Thus the version that passed the Senate aims to tackle anti-Asian hatred, but is silent on perhaps the most common and systemic form of anti-Asian bigotry in the U.S.


In Quillette, Jonathan Kay wonders whether "long COVID-19" is the new gender dysphoria:

In the case of COVID-19, much attention has been focused on conspiracy theorists and lay quacks who claim the disease is a fraud. But there is also a pseudo-scientific movement that seeks to present its adherents as sufferers of a condition they call "Long COVID."

As McMaster University psychiatrist Jeremy Devine recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal, some COVID-19 patients really do experience long-term effects that linger after the infection has left their body. But he adds that "such symptoms can also be psychologically generated or caused by a physical illness unrelated to the prior infection." Moreover, he notes that a survey produced by Body Politic Covid-19 Support Group, a prominent driver of the Long COVID idea, indicates that "many of the survey respondents who attributed their symptoms to the aftermath of a COVID-19 infection likely never had the virus in the first place. Of those who self-identified as having persistent symptoms attributed to COVID and responded to the first survey, not even a quarter had tested positive for the virus. Nearly half (47.8%) never had testing and 27.5% tested negative for COVID-19. Body Politic publicized the results of a larger, second survey in December 2020. Of the 3,762 respondents, a mere 600, or 15.9%, had tested positive for the virus at any time."…

In his WSJ article, Levine reports on another interesting connection: Body Politic, which had organized the surveys as a means to promote the idea of Long COVID as a real medical phenomenon, describes itself as "a queer feminist wellness collective." The group was created in 2018, according to its website, "to create space for inclusivity, accessibility, and crucial discussions about the very real connection between wellness, politics, and personal identity." Given this, readers may not be surprised at all to learn that the group's programming "has been highly successful with a millennial and Gen Z audience, largely comprised of women and LGBTQ+ identifying folks."

More here.


President Joe Biden wants to massively raise taxes to pay for education and child care. He has proposed a capital gains tax of 39.6 percent, which is significantly higher than the current rate of 20 percent. According to CNBC:

The capital gains tax is especially important to Wall Street since it dictates how large a chunk of an equity sale is collected by the federal government. The White House declined to comment.

The proposal would make good on Biden's campaign promise to require America's wealthiest households to contribute more as a percentage of their income. This plan would bring the capital gains tax rate and the top individual income tax rate, currently at 37%, to near parity.

The markets were not thrilled about the news:

U.S. equity markets turned sharply lower Thursday afternoon following a report that the Biden administration is mulling increasing the capital gains tax.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 321 points, or 0.94%, while the Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 declined 0.92% and 0.94%, respectively.

The details will be formally unveiled next week as part of Biden's American Family Plan, which is expected to cost more than $1 trillion. Biden will have to sell the bill to crucial Democratic swing voters like Sens. Joe Manchin (W. Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), and it's possible his doubling of the capital gains tax won't meet with their approval.


• Scientists made progress with a malaria vaccine.

• "After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, women are selling their breast milk online."

• The Marshall Project reports that Alaska's foster care agency has been stealing money from the kids under its purview.

• Gender reveal parties are a national menace.

• Drama within the Democratic Socialists of America: