An exasperated Asian-American ex-soldier who lifted his shirt and showed his scars to prove his patriotism in a town hall meeting has gone viral on social media.
Lee Wong, 69, has been widely applauded for making a powerful statement about discrimination, reports the BBC.
However, many others said Asian-Americans should not feel compelled to prove their loyalty to the US.
Thousands of Asian-Americans have reported violent attacks or hate crimes in recent months, often linked to language that blames Asians for the spread of Covid-19.
Wong, an elected official in West Chester, Ohio, was speaking at a meeting about the racism he has faced as an Asian in America.
Addressing the meeting, he said, “I’m going to show you what questions about patriotism look like.”
He stood up and bared his chest, showing large scars.
“Here is my proof. This is sustained in my 20 years of service in the US Army. Is this patriot enough?” he asked.
He then explained that people have questioned his loyalty to the US and suggested he did not “look American enough”.
Wong moved to the US to study in the late 1960s, he told local media. He said he had been physically attacked as well as verbally abused.
He called on colleagues in the town hall meeting to remember that the US constitution says all people are equal.
A video of him has spread widely on social media, with many people using the hashtag #StopAsianHate.
“It’s powerful and heart-breaking that someone like him, so experienced and committed, feels he has to bear his soul to get the point made,” wrote one Twitter user.
Comedian and writer Jenny Yang applauded Wong for making the strong statement but added: “No one should have to prove how American they are to deserve dignity and respect.”
And veteran Mansoor Shams, who tweets with the account MuslimMarine wrote, “No American should have to prove their patriotism to anyone.”