Shelley Luther gained national attention in 2020 after refusing to close her Dallas salon despite emergency orders established during the initial COVID pandemic. She was sentenced to a week in jail but was released after a few days by a Texas Supreme Court motion.
Luther is attempting to parlay the notoriety she gained from the dustup and is challenging state Rep. Reggie Smith (R-Sherman) in the March primary for House District 62 in Northern Texas.
She recently shared (and deleted) some statements against Chinese students in Texas on Twitter last Wednesday.
“Chinese students should be BANNED from attending all Texas universities,” Luther said. “No more Communists!”
After deleting these comments, Luther chose a slightly different approach, saying state taxpayers “should not be subsidizing the next generation of CCP leaders,” referring to the Chinese Communist Party. She continued, saying it is “common sense” that CCP members “should not have access to our schools.”
State Rep. Gene Wu, a Chinese-American Democrat from Houston, condemned Luther’s statements and requested she publicly apologize.
“Luther’s statements are ignorant, hateful, and incite violence against not only Chinese Americans, but all Asian Americans,” Wu said in a statement. “To casually conflate all Chinese students in America with actual registered members of the ruling party in the People’s Republic of China is not only ignorance of an extreme nature, it is also the type of rhetoric that drives anti-Asian hate crimes.”
Luther received almost no backlash from Republican leaders, save one comment from Rep. Jacey Jetton, who is Asian American. Jetton tweeted Sunday, saying that the GOP “should stand against canceling Chinese Students on college campuses.”
In response to Wu’s request, Luther chose not to apologize and instead retaliated.
“It doesn’t surprise me that a socialist Democrat who doesn’t even know how to show up to work thinks the position that communist Chinese citizens should not access taxpayer-funded state institutions is racist,” Luther said in a statement to The Texas Tribune.
Luther’s comments have followed a substantial rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. Recent FBI data indicates an over 73% rise in 2020, compared to total hate crimes, which saw a 13% increase.
Jetton continued in their tweet, saying Luther’s comments were an “attempt to score cheap political points.”
“You certainly don’t speak for Republicans or Texans like me,” Jetton said to Luther. “I hope the people of HD 62 use their votes to show they don’t agree with your brand of fear-based pandering either.”