Stop Excusing Anti-Asian Racism!

About two years ago, when I was still on Blogger, I penned a piece on how my compatriots on the Left/Liberal side of the spectrum in the US was largely indifferent to the prevalence of anti-Asian racism in US society.

Since then, the COVID pandemic has both upended and confirmed those priors. On the one hand, it is refreshing to see president Biden and other prominent Democratic elected officials forcefully condemn the post-COVID spike in Anti-Asian hate crimes. 

At the same time, much of the discourse on the Left about anti-Asian racism can be awfully blase. 

Responding to a recent spate of vicious attacks on elderly Asians in Oakland, Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife denied the existence of anti-Asian bigotry among the Oakland’s African-American community. The attacks were not the result of racism but of “survival-of-the-fittest capitalist culture” (a justification that mirrors the anti-woke left’s defense of Trumpism). 

Speaking of one of the assailants, Yahya Muslim, Fife “immediately assumed” that Muslim’s mental illness was the culprit, rather than latent racial animus. Fife’s definition of capitalist exploitation includes “generations of stolen labor from Black communities,” through slavery and Jim Crow, but excludes the indentured servitude experienced by Asian-American laborers on the Transcontinental Railroad and the “Bamboo Ceiling” that limits Asian-Americans’ professional advancement. 

Meanwhile, in the journalism world, Mehdi Hassan dismisses Asian-American Teen Vogue staff’s concerns about an editorial hire’s revolting past comments about Asian anatomy, by arguing that the hire had previously apologized (echoing Glenn Greenwald’s defense of wife-beater Aaron Coleman). 

Even worse are those who latently indulge in anti-Asian xenophobia, as many left-leaning housing activists do when complaining about foreign-owned vacant units.

Yes, African-Americans/the Left/etc. are not solely or chiefly responsible for anti-Asian racism. But having lived for generations in a society defined by Orientalism, it would be surprising if our political allies had not internalized some of it themselves.

Anti-Asian racism is as prevalent in the west as anti-black racism and deserves to be condemned just as strongly (and unequivocally) as the latter.

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