Thursday, December 22, 2016

President Trump...An Asian-American Nightmare.

The Demagogue Arises

Back in February of this year, I wrote a post about Donald Trump in which I noted a similarity in his proposal to end the H-1B program and the anti-Asian rhetoric of Asian-American progressives who advocate against high Asian representation in the tech industry. I have also pointed out in several previous posts how this same anti-Asian progressive rhetoric has apparently been adopted by several right-wing conservative (and the occasional liberal) media commentators to defend white society against the charge of racism. 

Now that Donald Trump has been elected to the presidency, I have the niggling feeling that the chickens are about to come home to roost on this anti-Asian sentiment propagated by Asian progressives in the liberal media.

It is worth remembering that in the early days of the election - as I pointed out here - sinophobia-tinged economic tough-talk gave rise to a number of xenophobic comments by politicians from all sides of the political spectrum. Trump even racially caricatured Asians with a mock "Asian" accent to the full enjoyment and applause of his gathered supporters and barely a head shake of disapproval from our "allies" on the left.

Noticeable about the election campaigning was that even though there was so much eye-winking and nudge-nudging anti-Asian rhetoric, this apparent widely-held xenophobia and the casual anti-Asian racism it reveals never became an election issue in the way that anti-Muslim, and anti-Hispanic immigration rhetoric became a significant talking point for those opposed to Trump. Our liberal allies seemed not too invested in championing anti-Asian racism as a political cause. The reason is that anti-Asian racism is so casually expressed and normative in our society that, likely, few in mainstream America thought that there was any issue at all.

I abstained from voting - and I wish that all vote-eligible Asian-Americans had expressly boycotted the election. The reason I did so is that as an Asian, I was visible only as a potential threat and fifth column to the right, and only as a joke, a threat, and possible fifth column by the left. While, the anti-Asian racism of the right needs little examination since, at least, they're open and honest about it, the left on the other hand is more slippery. All you have to do is consider some of Hilary Clinton's most celebrated supporters and you will see what I'm talking about.

When it comes to culturally influential and prominent supporters, she had people like Chris Rock, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna (and here), Shaq,and Rosie O'Donnell, to name a few. It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that individually and collectively, even this limited sample of liberal/leftist wields significant influence in our culture and society. Merely by virtue of the platforms made available to these celebs, their statements on any issue have the potential to reach huge swathes of people and influence these viewers' attitudes. This is why electioneering politicians seek the support of such celebrities - they can reach hundreds of thousands of followers and spread political messages via already-established media platforms.

Chris Rock's racial stereotyping of Asians at the Oscars was viewed by tens of millions of people - worldwide - and was presented at an event held by a notoriously liberal and "progressive" Hollywood establishment in an atmosphere of casual acceptance of its racist content, followed up by non-committal, sniggering media reporting on the subject. All of these celebs have significant followings and at various times in their careers have served as role models and leaders for thousands of fans, which means that they role-modeled casual anti-Asian racism to untold numbers of people.

The liberal left's tolerance of anti-Asian racism and its unqualified acceptance of high-profile liberal supporters who casually voice such sentiment showed America that progressive Democrats' self-righteous moral posturing on race was a farce. It all boils down to simple logic. If the pursuit of racial equality and upholding of the dignity of minorities are universal principles, then, by definition, these principles must be applied to all minorities. As I have shown, high-profile supporters of the liberal left routinely propagate stereotypes of Asians and spout anti-Asian racism, but are still proudly paraded by liberal politicians as upholders of universal principles of racial justice and equality.

That means that as an Asian-American, I am being asked by Asian progressive activists to support a party that seeks out the vote-winning power of celebs who unapologetically expressed racial bigotry towards me, and who represent an industry that routinely excludes Asians from participating in it. Donald Trump and his ilk are the devils we know. Liberal leftists are the devil in disguise, pretending to uphold universal principles while at the same time welcoming supporters who role-model and promote anti-Asian racism.

It is disturbing to realize that our society's indifference to Donald Trump racial mockery of Asians is fostered by the liberal media and some of the celebs who utilize its platforms. Indeed, the liberal media - through whitewashing dramatic roles, stereotyping, and discrimination against Asian actors - is the primary culprit in normalizing anti-Asian racism. Trump's racial mockery did not become a major election issue because our society is conditioned to view racist stereotypes as the normal way of conceiving of Asians, and the left could not mobilize behind an opposition to anti-Asian prejudice because it is supporters of the left that have done so much to normalize it. The liberal media created the social conditions that made Trump's anti-Asian racism a non-issue.

From an Asian-American point of view, there really is no good choice in American politics - liberals, the team that champions racial justice - propagate racist stereotypes of Asians, whilst Trump and many of his supporters simply don't like Asians and are honest about it. We know what to expect from them. The liberals, on the other hand, don't seem to like Asians much either, but they are not honest about it.

The repercussions of this liberal normalization of anti-Asianism under a Trump presidency remains to be seen. But, what is clear is that if Trump decides to go full on with a belligerent anti-China policy, then thanks to liberals - especially Asian progressives with their smearing of their own community - we can expect to continue to see any acts of anti-Asian racism met with an indifferent shrug, regardless of its severity. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Much Wu Wu About Nothing....

Constance Keeps It Constant....

There was a YOMYOMF post recently that sought to defend Constance Wu from accusations of hypocrisy after she tweeted criticism of the casting of Matt Damon in a historical film set in ancient China. As readers might know, Damon is Caucasian and very much un-Chinese - making his starring role in a film set in this period of ancient Chinese history somewhat anachronistic. So, Wu's comments are on point.

The criticism of Wu came from - according to the YOMYOMF article - Asian men who, apparently, consider her a hypocrite because she criticizes white racism yet, she is dating a white man.

This is the significant piece of what she said, but you can read the full tweet here.....
We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that [only a] white man can save the world.........Our heroes don't look like Matt Damon. They look like Malala. Ghandi. Mandela. Your big sister when she stood up for you to those bullies that one time.
The YOMYOMF article links to this Hapa Reddit thread as its primary example of Asian men shitting on Wu. I have a couple of things to say about this whole shitfest.

Firstly, to cite a Hapa reddit thread and then throw out the accusation that it is "Asian men" who constitute most of the critics is one conflating bridge too far. If you read through the Hapa Reddit site, you will notice that a good amount of it is devoted to criticism of Asian female and white male relationships. As the offspring of mixed marriages/relationships who most likely are drawing from personal (often painful, apparently) experiences in their criticisms of their own backgrounds, to dismiss them as "Asian male trolls", is insulting to their life experiences as mixed-race people who have a unique perspective on the racial dynamics of mixed-race partnerships. At the very least, they are owed - as human beings - the decency of having their experiences not dismissed out of hand merely because it makes progressives uncomfortable.

It doesn't help that the Hapa Reddit thread criticizing Wu dates from 11th June 2016, whilst Wu's tweet was published on 29th of July - so the Reddit thread is not actually criticizing her specifically for her tweet.

The second issue relates to what Constance Wu actually said in her tweet and whether it warrants the kind of orgasmic excitement displayed by many in the Asian-American activist blogosphere. Firstly, I don't agree that Wu is being a hypocrite or inconsistent by having a white boyfriend. And neither do I think she deserves to be insulted because of this.

At the same time, her words...
We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that [only a] white man can save the world....
...weakened her case and left her open to criticism. Let's be honest, the high rate of out-marriage amongst Asian women (particularly to white men) also, in its own way, perpetuates a racist myth of Asian men made undesirable by their misogyny. There's no getting away from this fact. But this is not why I'm not particularly inspired by Wu's tweet.

In essence, Wu's comment follows the worn and weary path of recent fashionable Asian-American activism. She takes an issue of specific anti-Asian bias and uses it as a springboard to wax poetic about a general issue of bias in which the specificity and unique issue of Asian cultural invisibility becomes secondary. She doesn't even use the word "Asian", and the word "Chinese" crops up only in relation to the film's investors. In effect, Wu has herself rendered Asians - that is, East and South-East Asians - somewhat invisible.

Even the people that Wu puts forward as our heroes - Malala, Ghandi, and Mandela - don't actually look like me or my ilk. Doesn't she have heroes who look East or South East Asian? If she can't think of any such people, then that in and of itself speaks to a need for activism that focuses on us, and not some wild, pompous, big tit in the sky approach that is inclusive of everyone but satisfies no one and renders me invisible. The content of Wu's tweet is not even particularly unique or original - these sentiments have been, and continue to be, voiced by anonymous Asians on countless forums and blogs.

So, while it is good that these ideas are being voiced by a high profile figure in the public arena, there's nothing new being said, and the way it is being said actually renders me invisible. The crux of the problem is that Asian-American activist thinking has become so one-dimensionally focused on "coalition" building that it has become one of the major forces marginalizing Asians - Constance Wu's tweet illustrates this as clear as day.

While there is grandstanding about "building coalition" with other minorities, the all-important foundation of an Asian-American coalition seems largely neglected. There seems to be a lack of cohesiveness and understanding between the various ethnic Asian groups, between generations, genders, sexualities and social classes. The dis-unity of Asian-America is even exacerbated by the anti-Asian racist rhetoric of Asian progressivism that characterizes Asian men as toxic, Chinese FOBs as rampant anti-black racists, and any Asian man who works in the tech industry as an implicit supporter of white supremacy.

Constance Wu, in a subsequent moment of activist zealotry was kind enough to illustrate this division for us in another tweet where she seemed to voice support for a mail-order bride "sitcom" that was being considered by media racists. As a privileged woman of North-East Asian descent, living in the wealthiest country in the world, Wu seems to be out of touch with Asian women in the less prosperous countries of Asia who, perhaps, are more vulnerable to exploitation.

In short, there really is not much to see here. Constance Wu's sentiments meet the required standards of present-day Asian activism in that it utilizes an instance of specific anti-Asian bias to promote an agenda that results in more invisibility for Asians. There's nothing inspirational about that, regardless of who Wu is dating.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Are White Guys Are Too Dreamy To Be Held Accountable?

Xin Xin Liu Who?!

It's a funny old world.

In my previous post, I wrote about the twitter, attention-seeking "townhall" in which Asian progressive feminists used actor, John Cho's, concerns about the mental and emotional welfare of his child as an excuse to cast sexist and racist aspersions on Asian men in general and to demean - like any good white racist would do - the masculinity of Asian men who happen to not conform to the limits placed on them by society or wannabe Asian progressives with Napolean complexes.

An article posted to the YOMYOMF website recently by Erin Chew highlights why some Asian men find it hard to take these progressives seriously. The post recounted the story of the brutal murder over in Scotland of a Chinese woman, Xin Xin Liu, by her white Scottish husband, Rob Kerr. The victim was stabbed seventy-six times as the couple's children slept nearby. Interestingly, the article's focus was not on the crime and the issue of domestic violence faced by Asian women, but rather it focused on the poor taste of internet comment(s) made by a handful of Asian men.

As the title of the post suggests, Chew wanted to make it clear that she feels that the race of the murderer had nothing to do with the killing and that to make that association is absolutely despicable! Strangely enough, I would agree that we should not associate the race of criminals with their crimes, nor should we try to blame a person's race for any behaviours whether criminal in  nature or not. To do so is racist by any definition.

Strange then, that this is exactly what Asian progressives and Asian progressive feminists did in their recent hatchet job on John Cho and the subsequent two-minutes hate-type screeds in their twitter "townhall." But even before that most recent embarrassing display of stupidity, Asian progressive feminists have been routinely associating the behaviour of some Asian men who have committed crimes, or whom they simply do not like, with their race.

Most notably, Eliot Roger, Daniel Holztclaw, and Eddie Huang have all been held up as examples of some kind of toxic "Asian" masculinity, even though no one ever has the presence of mind to define what they mean by "Asian." Of course, readers will remember that Roger was a mass murderer, and Holztclaw was a serial rapist. Huang is a celebrity chef and successful (very successful!) author and television personality. How these two extremes of men could ever be seen as having a common unhealthy masculinity is beyond me. How their "Asian-ness" plays into the equation is also never explained by progressives.

As I've written in several previous posts, Asian progressive activism seems to function primarily as a defender of white supremacy. In almost every case of police killings of unarmed black men, or other instances of anti-black racism perpetrated by white institutions or people, Asian progressives will step up without fail to divert the conversation away from white racism and "reframe" the issues by attacking other Asians with vague accusations of rampant racism, privilege and "complicity" in anti-blackness.

White America seems to have taken notice of this strategy and actually seems to be utilizing this same method of deflection to defend white racism. "Asian privilege" is used to diminish accusations of anti-black racism in white America, and ideas of alleged Asian complicity and rampant anti-blackness have been used to shift responsibility for America's racial problems onto Asians. With this in mind, the stark contrast between the twitter townhall's racialization of toxic masculinity and Erin Chew's heartfelt defense of the whiteness of a brutal murderer are quite stunning.

When Eliot Roger committed his crimes, some Asian feminists tried to force his actions into a convenient narrative of it being an example of a mentality of "Asian" masculinity gone awry, despite the fact that Roger reserved his most vicious attacks for his Asian male victims. As for Holztclaw, I've seen no evidence or even the slightest indication that his race, or his feelings about his race had any bearing on his actions. Yet, Asian feminism wants to hold him up as the poster boy for the threat that Asian masculinity presents to American society. This thinking comes straight out of the Yellow Peril xenophobia playbook and has its roots deep in America's anxiety about mass immigration of Asian men into the country and the threat of miscegenation that accompanied it.

By comparison, Erin Chew's piece on YOMYOMF seems to go out if its way to avoid the kind of racist thinking commonly utilized by Asian progressives when speaking about Asian men. Her piece could be a great example of how not to racialize issues of domestic, or male on female, violence if it did not contrast so sharply with the general racist attitudes exhibited by the rest of the movement. Sadly, her piece reads like an apology for white violence against Asians, a defence of domestic violence, and a double standard in how violence against Asian women is viewed.

First of all, what is most noticeable is that the Scottish guy's mental health is used to defend his actions. Eliot Roger was possibly even more mentally ill than this Scottish guy - at least his mental illness was almost certainly more long-term - yet his mental state was largely played down by Asian progressive feminists who chose to focus on only the Asian part of his identity just so that they could use his actions to push their narrative of Asian misogyny as if genetics plays a part in cultural concepts of masculine behaviour.

Anyone who values the lives of women would be appalled by how the victim described in Chew's piece is rendered invisible by her focus on defending the whiteness of the Scottish dude. In fact, her worst condemnation is reserved for the Asian men who made insensitive comments on the web.
These Asian men sadly, are brainwashed, angry and have their own insecurities to deal with. Instead of acknowledging that this was a horrific case of domestic violence ending in death and sympathising for the deceased and the children, they have gone to victim blaming and calling Xin Xin “self hating” to marry a white guy. I wish that these type of Asian men look at the actual issue at hand that this is a fatal murder of a wife in a frenzied attack by her husband instead of blaming Xin Xin just because she married a white guy. 
If Chew had done a little more research, she would have found that in recent years, a series of incidences, including violent murders of Asian men and women in Scotland has been met with an often apathetic response by police investigators, and that the framing of the murder by the British media as a case of a "good (white) man acting in opposition of his normally good character" is a classic means to refocus attention away from the victim - particularly in cases where the victim is a minority. The judge in the Vincent Chin murder case made similar statements about the good character of his killers before ultimately showing leniency towards them. Furthermore, both Kerr's legal defence and the media have run with this same story of a "good" man acting out of character, whilst almost ignoring the Asian victim.

A violent murder of Simon San, a Chinese restaurant delivery driver, several years ago is a good example of how some murders of Asian people in Scotland are treated. Although the assailants screamed racial abuse at the victim as they beat him to death, police refused to investigate the murder as a hate crime. Even though the murderer was convicted, he was due to be released a mere three years into his sentence despite posting anti-Chinese comments on a Facebook page while still in prison. Police did acknowledge their failures with an apology, but that did not prevent the officer who made the decision not to charge the murderer with a hate crime from being promoted.

Other instances of racism hint at the existence of a culture of anti-Asian prejudice that informs police complicity in seeking lenient charges for murderers,and affects Asians in every strata of Scottish society. Last year, a Chinese origin politician in the Scottish National Party resigned amidst allegations of racial abuse and bullying. Even main opposition British Labour Party (which has huge support in Scotland) leader Jeremy Corbyn has been alleged to have utilized anti-Chinese sentiment. A report by Min Quan from 2009 exploring widespread anti-Chinese racism in the UK, details prolonged racial harassment and abuse of Chinese-Brits, violent attacks and verbal abuse (even on children).

Although some victims report good experiences with police responses to anti-Chinese crimes, many others report apathy, indifference, and an unwillingness of police to pursue any in-depth investigation. Even worse, there is an implication of police obstruction of justice in cases where police advice to victims resulted in cases being dropped.

This background gives the savage stabbing of Xin Xin Liu by her white Scottish husband a whole different context that makes Erin Chew's defence of his whiteness seem even more hollow, particularly when we consider how justice for his Chinese victim might be administered. Already, the media, like Chew, is upholding the integrity of the savage killer. His whiteness remains unsullied by his actions, even though counted amongst the benefits of "whiteness" in the UK is the strong possibility - as shown by the Min Quan report - of not being held fully accountable for  crimes against Chinese citizens. Even if Rob Kerr's race has nothing to do with his crime, his whiteness may certainly play a huge role  in how police, prosecutors and the law deals with his punishment and whether or not Xin Xin Liu receives appropriate justice. 

But those kinds of nuances might get in the way of the narrative. Besides, white guys are just too dreamy to allow their whiteness to be held accountable.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

John Cho....

....bastard extraordinaire?

There was a recent online "action" carried out by a hardy band of Asian progressives and feminists whose aim was to bring attention to themselves  the phenomenon of toxic masculinity amongst Asian-American men. As reported in the Daily Dot a "twitter chat" was arranged on the subjects of toxic masculinity, patriarchy, and ....wait for it.......wait for it......our old friend Asian male misogyny. You can read the actual twitter thread in its full glory, here.

The first thing I noticed was how childish and immature the whole dialogue was - they came across like thirteen year-olds gossiping about the unpopular students in their geography class. Although several tweets used the word "discussion" to describe the event, the word "gossip" is the more appropriate word to use here for what amounts to little more than a gossipy venting session for a movement that is so irrelevant that it is only afforded a voice in the wider political arena when it attacks other Asians.

Having utilized their powers to attack and marginalize the already highly marginalized low-English proficiency, and isolated Asian FOBs, the empowered-by-their-appropriation-of-mainstream-racist-anti-Asian-strategies Asian progressive has now turned his/her attention to another Asian group long deemed embarrassing to their lifestyles; the successful Asian-American man.

In keeping with their strategy of simply making things up about Asians - which is eerily similar to the way white racism creates Asian stereotypes - the gossipy venting "townhall" simply cast aspersions on Asian men using in-group language references to spew out half-baked slogans with little of substance to actually carry meaningful dialogue.

Hilariously, the inspiration for this latest outburst of Asian progressive anti-Asian racism came about because of a casual comment made by John Cho during an interview with Vulture magazine.

As the Daily Dot reports.......
According to organizer Mark Tseng Putterman, the inspiration from the hashtag came from an interview with actor John Cho in Vulture last month, in which he said, "Asian men...suffer more than Asian women,” to which the organization responded with some tongue-in-cheek memes about Asian masculinity. 
Putterman is an organizer? Incredible. But....this is the full context of what Cho said....
My wife and I were worried when we had our firstborn, about how he was going to think of himself in a mostly white neighborhood. Particularly Asian men, I feel, we suffer more than Asian women, because we're told we're not worth anything in general. We thought casually about moving to an Asian-heavy neighborhood. And I'm glad we didn't, because there are a lot of drawbacks to that too.
So, what John Cho relates here is a very personal and profound concern for his son's future sense of identity and well-being - in a culture that denigrates Asian males - that may even, perhaps, reflect some painful personal experience in his own past. 

The response from our self-righteous, moral teachers in Asian progressivism? 

Mockery.

Yes, they mocked a guy with derogatory, racist memes about Asian masculinity for expressing a concern that he has for the well-being of his own kid. Need I say more? This is what Asian progressivism has come to represent; a movement whose activism works to silence the full diversity of the Asian-American experience. What a missed opportunity to open a meaningful dialogue.

The Daily Dot article posts some gems of Asian progressive stupidity. Kim Tran claims....
We need to claim Daniel Holtzclaw as evidence mysogynoir is a part of Asian America
This is stupid for a couple of reasons. Firstly, how John Cho's words relate to Daniel Holtzclaw is a mystery. Holtzclaw was a half-Japanese police officer convicted of a series of sexual assaults on black women, John Cho is an actor who has committed no crimes as far as I know. Apparently, Kim Tran feels there is a connection somewhere - maybe the fact that they both have Asian genetic material? Which leads nicely to the second point of stupidity.

Why is Holtzclaw "Asian"? Is it his genetics? Is it his cultural upbringing? Is it his epicanthic folds? Is it a preference for raw seafood? This question is never answered in this (according to organizer Putterman) "critical conversation about the ways that Asian-American men perpetuate misogyny."  

Race - according to consensus - is merely a social construction, and (also according to consensus), to assert race based on genetics is racist, whilst racially defining people according to social construction is also racist. No matter how you slice it, Tran has utilized white supremacist racial thinking to assert her claims.

It gets funnier. "Wu" says...
can we talk about how antiblackness is embedded in the "misogylinity" of cis asian men
Excuse me? John Cho is worried about his kid - how did the conversation go from that to the above? Without knowing it, John Cho's concern about his kid makes him a racist, sexist bastard.

Thankfully, we have organizer Mark Tseng Putterman to organize our thoughts....
Also so much anti-blackness amongst #HyperMasculAZNs, coopting stereotypes of Black male aggression and masculinity (e.g. Eddie Huang)
...with a (somewhat cowardly) passive-aggressive attack on black hip-hop culture through criticism of the much less dangerous Asian celeb. I say less dangerous, but Eddie Huang looks like the kinda crazy that you don't want to get messed up in. I'm also at a loss for why Huang is so hated by Asian progressives. Must be jealousy.

Here's another by Juliet Shen...
Violence and abuse becomes normalized as "That's just how Korean/Chinese/Vietnamese/etc guys are". But WHY?
That's why Asian men - like John Cho - agonize over the mental well-being of their sons. His comment plays directly into the question of what makes men (or women, if we are to be honest) into hyper-aggressive tools. How about addressing his point, instead of changing the subject and making random attacks on random Asian men?

But irony can be ironic sometimes. According to Julie Ae Kim....
toxic masculinity & misogyny is also much about the silencing of and dismissal of AAPI women, even in Asian am spaces 
That's ironic! John Cho made a point about the mental well-being of Asian boys who live in a culture that devalues their achievements and this should have led to an inclusive discussion since the apparent crisis of identity that Cho alludes to is, surely, a fundamental aspect of unhealthy identity formation? Instead, his concern has been silenced and dismissed, even in Asian-American spaces. These Asian progressives are, apparently, too self-involved to actually parse Cho's words.

As I read more of these wannabes' snide gripes, I came to realize that what we have here are a bunch of nobodies shitting on Asians who have achieved far more success than they could ever hope to attain. Just who are these people? Just how exactly have they advanced the Asian-American cause? If they have accomplished anything for Asian-American empowerment, it has to be the best kept secret in all of Asian-America.

Mark Tseng Putterman has accomplished "organizing", and how such characters as Kim Tran, Julie Sheng, Julie Ae Kim, and "wu", have accomplished any kind of advancement for Asian-America is not immediately clear. Bitching about people who have accomplished more than you does not advance Asians, nor is it in and of itself, an accomplishment. And this is the crux of the problem here.

By comparison, John Cho and Eddie Huang, by virtue of their achievements, have advanced Asian-Americans in the culture of America by light-years. Huang has written best-selling books that have inspired a television series - which in turn provided opportunities for more Asian-Americans to get a high-profile toehold in the acting profession where they are still largely discriminated against. Even before that, Huang was a cutting-edge chef and a media celebrity, whose extroverted personality probably encouraged more Asians to push the boundaries of limiting stereotypes than snide progressives ever could.

John Cho is a talented actor whose abilities are horribly underrated. But his performances even in canceled television shows and bit parts in movies have given hope not only to other Asian actors who sense a dramatic shift about to take place in the industry, but to many Asian-Americans who see his success as an indication that the days of dehumanizing stereotypes may be waning. He has demonstrated that Asians can have a career in entertainment without taking racially demeaning roles, and it's simply a matter of staying true to your integrity.

In short, these two Asian men who have come to be the focus of much hatred and hostility from Asian progressives have probably done more to advance Asian-America than all that twitter whining could ever hope to achieve. Most frightening of all is that these wannabes so easily conceive of Huang and Cho as being similar in kind to murderers like Elliot Roger and serial rapists like Daniel Holtzclaw. Asian progressives are either very stupid or simply spiteful and envious of Asian men who have achieved more than they.

What this twitter town hall has confirmed for me is that Asian progressivism is far more reactionary than even I thought. In their attempts to outdo each other's snideness and self-righteousness, they completely missed the opportunity to address the most important point raised by John Cho.

Here's what they avoided talking about.....
I've seen many instances where we’re seen as a little less than human, or maybe a little more than human — like ultrahuman, rather than subhuman. What is wrong with film representation? Some of it is mechanical, surprisingly. I've thought about why Asian stars — from Asia, I mean — look so much better in their Asian films than they do in their American films, and now I can answer that to some extent. There's an eye, and it's not a malicious eye, which is a way that the people working the camera and behind the scenes view us. And then they process it and they put it on film. And it's not quite human. Whereas Asian films, they are considered fully human. Fully heroic, fully comic, fully lovely, fully sad, whatever it is. And it's this combination of lighting, makeup, and costume.
Cho is referencing an idea that anyone who is truly awake in Asian-America is aware of, and is an idea that I have alluded to several times; a deeply ingrained mainstream racialized cultural conditioning that colours perceptions by fostering a, perhaps unconscious, imposition of racialized preconceptions on mainstream interactions with Asians. In other words, mainstream interactions with Asians occur through an unconscious filter that retards normal human responses towards, and understanding of, them. Maybe it is a kind of deep-rooted skepticism, or disbelief that Asians can and do possess human qualities - a skepticism that may result in anything from media portrayals that lack conviction or believability, to a lack of trust in an Asian man's ability to be a leader in industry or any other field.

Unsurprisingly, Asian progressives exhibited the same tone-deaf reactions in their twitter town hall. The skeptical snideness that diminishes the achievements of successful Asian men, the conditioning that presumes Asian misogyny to explain away Asian men's behaviour, and the shrill, almost xenophobic inability to see nuance and humanity in Asian men's drives, all point to a "way of seeing" Asian men that is largely informed and empowered by mainstream racist conditioning.

Once again, Asian progressives show their commitment to upholding white supremacy by adopting its precepts and attitude.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Amazon Reviews

And They're Very Positive Reviews...

I was happy to discover that there have been three very positive reviews of my novel posted to Amazon.....
I purchased this book to take on vacation but I ended up reading it from cover to cover before I even left. I couldn't put it down. The Legend of Fu transports you to another place and time, I felt I was observing the characters from my bedroom window. This book is full of action, intrigue but is also a tragic story that needs to be told. Smooth writing and twists in the plot will keep you glued to the book and have you trying to solve the mystery. This is a must read not only for Asia-Americans but all Americans.
..and secondly...
This book’s a real rarity: both exciting and thought-provoking. Just an excellent book! Couldn’t put it down! The action carries you along and the message makes you pause and think. Very well-written, with well-developed characters who really stay with you. I recommend it highly.
..and third....
This is a page turner with a very interesting plot. The characters are well developed and thought out. It is set in a historical perspective that most people don't know about.
This is a nice bright spot after several days of ongoing stress in the aftermath of the recent troubles we've had here.

Visit my Createspace page to order a copy.......

Monday, July 18, 2016

LOOK!! A Squirrel!

Progressive Subject-Changers Gone Wild.

There's a scene in the sci-fi movie "I Am Legend", starring Will Smith in which his character encounters a group of diseased zombie-like humans huddled together in the dark recesses of a dilapidated building of post-apocalyptic New York. The image of the zombies is brief - see it here, first twenty seconds or so - but they gather in an extremely disturbing, bestial manner, their bodies twitching uncontrollably, and positioned in a circle with their backs to the outside world as if to emphasize their separateness from, and obliviousness to, the uninfected human world of Smith's character. 

Sadly, my ability to suspend belief was itself suspended when I realized that the zombies looked like they were in the finishing stages of shooting a bukakke scene, or like a gaggle of macho males at the club, standing around the edge of the dance floor, heads bobbing uncontrollably from excessive testosterone and the struggle to control roid rage, to such an extent that you can't tell if they are trying to dance or are in the beginning stages of a group epileptic fit. 

Most interestingly of all, the zombies in the scene reminded me of early twenty-first century Asian-American progressives. Similar to the infected feral humans in the movie, our progressive friends seem to have a singular, inward turning focus that ignores and mythologizes those members of their community not like them, seem to be engaged in a circle-jerk of self-involvement, and, most hilariously of all, they act like poseurs at the club. Childlike moral reasoning, and internet-only militant posturing complete the picture of the modern-day Asian progressive as a gaggle of macho poseurs trying too hard to impress.  

I've written previously about Asian-progressive activism and its abandonment of any pretense of being an Asian focused movement. While our zombie friends in the movie respond most ferociously to the scent of human blood, our Asian progressive friends seem to lie dormant until spurred into action by anti-black racism - usually the shooting of innocent black people. The difference is, that zombies smell blood and attack the source of it, but when black people get shot by the police, Asian progressives smell only the opportunity to draw attention to themselves, usually by attacking other Asians and refocusing attention away from the issues of judicial collusion in enabling police excesses. So, while the disgust at police excess is worthy, the response of turning their rage inward at their own community is bizarre.

The recent shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have unleashed a never before seen level of Asian progressive impotent fervor, and of course, the attention has been deflected away from the issue of police excess and refocused on the real issue: Asian immigrants and their supposedly rampant - but so far unproven - anti-black racism that causes them to be complicit in anti-blackness by not supporting Black Lives Matter. In particular, the killing of Castile was of grave concern as initial reports claimed that he was shot by a "Chinese" (Chinese-American, thank you very much) officer, although subsequently the officer was revealed to be a four-year veteran of Hispanic origin. The subsequent sighs of relief are believed by Norwegian scientists to have increased the greenhouse effect for at least half a day.

I think that when it comes to fobby Asian "anti-blackness", the truth is far more mundane than our progressive friends might have us believe: our ignorant-seeming, broken-English speaking antecessors, and recent immigrants are simply not reactionary. This is probably why they don't jump up and down, pointing accusatory, self-promoting fingers at those around them - they might want to base their beliefs on evidence, not wishful thinking, or made-up narratives that assert guilt by association, or some kind of racism by default of circumstances.

In the wake of the Castile killing, progressive reaction was swift and an open letter composed that really was quite an epic effort of backflipping out of their Asian-ness, moral grandstanding, pompous lecturing, and an embarrassing inability to actually express what exactly Asian "parents" and other Fobby immigrants are doing that warrants such scrutiny. It's not as though Asian immigrants are going around shooting black people - although guns may have helped resolve issues where our vile, racist Asian parents deservedly got themselves beaten, killed  and thrown onto train tracks several years back. And they deserved every burned out product in their illegal and implicitly racist corner stores in black urban areas. But, yeah, this letter should go a long way in helping to eradicate unwarranted police violence towards the black community.

What seems to lie at the root of this letter, is the fear that Chinese "parents" will once again embarrass their mind-numbingly progressive kids by protesting in favour of someone who they thought was the Chinese cop who killed Castile like they did with Peter Liang. The letter says this.....
When someone is walking home and gets shot by a sworn protector of the peace -- even if that officer's last name is Liang -- that is an assault on all of us, and on all of our hopes for equality and fairness under the law. 
Thoughts like these are what prompts my disillusionment with our latest crop of Asian progressives. Liang was an inept rookie cop, whose poor training and lack of aptitude for the job resulted in a tragic accident that warranted both the trial and the proportionate sentence that he received. Liang never intended to fire his weapon and thus never intended to kill Akai Gurley, he neither knew, at first, that he had actually shot anyone, and there is no evidence whatsoever that he deliberately targeted a black man - even the prosecutor agreed with this. The Asian progressive viewpoint insists on labeling Liang a murderer - against all the evidence - and someone whose racist heart (stemming from his racist immigrant parents, no doubt) was so full of anti-blackness that even an accidental shooting must, by definition, be an act of racist violence.

The embarrassing thing for Asian progressivism is that it is our fobby generation of, perhaps, older immigrants whose English language skills may be poor or non-existent, that have actually grasped the nuance of American racism with far more clarity than the self-promoting American-born progressive wannabes. I have greater faith in their ability to reason that the killing of Castile - even if it had been perpetrated by a Chinese cop - is not anything like the accidental shooting of Akai Gurley and they would, thus, not jump to his defence with the same passion. It is the progressives who are incapable of discerning these kinds of differences as evidenced by their bizarre insistent delusion that Liang committed murder.

Almost as bad, yet unsurprisingly, the letter plays the oppression Olympics and diminishes the extent of the Asian racial experience as well as shows a disturbing lack of comprehension for what Asians report experiencing on a day to day basis....
It's true that we face discrimination for being Asian in this country. Sometimes people are rude to us about our accents, or withhold promotions because they don't think of us as “leadership material.” Some of us are told we're terrorists. But for the most part, nobody thinks “dangerous criminal” when we are walking down the street. The police do not gun down our children and parents for simply existing.
Not getting promotions because of your race is a pretty serious act of discrimination despite the attempts to play it down. It is such a serious act of discrimination that nations have felt compelled to change their constitutions to address the problem. But in a typical moment of short-sighted reactivism, Asian progressivism undoes the work and efforts of previous generations of activists by diminishing the seriousness of the problem and creates a problem for the generations that come after us: logically, if we can reason that discrimination against one group can be hand-waved away, then there are no reasons to apply this to all minorities. If workplace discrimination is not that bad (and even the UN and other international organizations say it is), then it is not that bad for anyone.

That is where Asian progressive grandstanding leads us and I'm sure feminists who have struggled for decades to win equality in the workplace will be horrified by the stupidity in this poorly thought out diminution of one of the major struggles of civil rights movements throughout the world.

Additionally, the letter's diminishing of racial rudeness effectively denies Asians the racial experience that is, perhaps the most common to all of us. Even something as normal as walking down the street for Asian-Americans can often be a terrible experience. For us, racial harassment in the form of random people calling out to us with mockery seems to be a universally and regularly experienced thing that many of us, at times, find quite threatening. Asian women, in particular report routine racialized sexual harassment that I would suggest they find problematic too. Asian progressives, however, think these women should stop whining.

Consider, also, that often this street level harassment is also expressed openly in the media - notably this years Oscars ceremony - such that it has become normalized to harass Asians to the extent that the prevailing mainstream wisdom seems to be that it isn't racist at all. We have to wonder if the sentiments expressed in the letter were written by some modern-day, stealth version of the Asian Exclusion League.

You don't convince people by attacking or lecturing them, and this is why I view these pompous tactics of open letter-writing, trashy attempts at public shaming, and transparent self-promotion as doing more harm to the cause of BLM than the supposed racism of the Asian fobs they're targeting. It speaks of an overwhelming failure of ideas when your movement's most prominent activities for the mattering of black lives involve lecturing and attacking Asian immigrants with poor English, and elevating some vague minor act of racial insensitivity to the same level of significance as violent police excesses.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

That Was Scary.

Coup Attempt In Turkey.

Well this has been an eventful twelve hours or so. Late last night there was an attempted military take-over of the country, which has now been put down, with, thankfully and sadly, relatively few casualties. As one might imagine, last night was largely sleepless which we spent preparing back-packs filled with two days worth of clothing, passports, and our most prized possessions, in the event that we would have to flee (yes, I used the word "flee") to safety in one of the foreign consulates here.

Strangely, even though we live a mere ten minutes from Istanbul's central square where there was, apparently, a confrontation taking place between military and protesters, the coup-attempt was for us a largely quiet affair. Throughout most of the night, however, the sonic boom of low-flying jets flying over the city reminded us that there was a conflict taking place around us. At a couple of points in the night, we could hear what sounded like explosions in the distance.

Helicopters - presumably, military - with their lights turned off, flew patrols over the area, and an occasional chant carried to our apartment from some undefined place in the distance. At some point in the night, a crowd passed nearby our house, chanting, "Allehu Akabar", presumably on their way to confront the army in the main square.

It's now, ten in the morning, the uprising seems to have been quelled, and all is quiet. We're staying indoors today, and probably for the whole weekend.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Announcements.

Just up.....

Please visit the Facebook page for my recently published novel........


There's also a permanent link in the side bar of this blog. Feel free to leave a message, or a question, and don't forget to like, and if you really like, buy!

Also, I have post a short preview from the novel here.....


Please rate - feedback and reviews are welcome.

For any questions contact me via e-mail.....

benefsanem@aol.com

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Chinese Detergent Commercial

When Coalitions Break Down And No One Notices.

There's been an internet year's worth of controversy in recent days over a Chinese-made detergent ad that shows a black man being put into a washing machine and coming out as a light-skinned Chinese man. Naturally, the media has taken the incident and run with it - although, surprisingly, Asian progressives haven't yet latched onto the incident to spout their anti-Asian rhetoric and use it as a reason to launch an anti-Asian exclusion movement from higher education. That may still come - I'm sure.

Completely shocked (shocked I tell you!) that racism can exist in the media, some news sites have even suggested that the ad could be the most racist ad ever. America's ethnic minorities long used to being casually demeaned in the media, may not agree, however, but this post is not about obvious media racism per se. 

I first read about the detergent ad in a Washington Post article that describes incidents from India and China that actually happened on the same day, from which the article's author deduces that China and India "have a huge problem with racism toward black people." Yet, the two incidents described are worlds apart in nature, severity, and consequence.

Firstly, the article's author,  Ishaan Tharoor, describes the incident that happened in India....
Just minutes before his birthday, Masonda Ketanda Olivier was beaten to death. The Congolese national was confronted by a mob of men late at night last Friday in New Delhi and killed. Police said the incident was a dispute over the hiring of an autorickshaw; Olivier's friend, an Ivorian national, said it was a clear hate crime, with racial epithets repeatedly invoked.
There you have it - an African student was beaten to death by a mob shouting racial epithets in what one witness believes was a racially motivated attack. In terms of severity, dying from a racially motivated beating is pretty severe. 

The consequences of the beating are huge....
This week, irate African diplomats in the Indian capital pointed to Olivier's murder as evidence of wider discrimination and bigotry against black people who visit and live in India......"The Indian government is strongly enjoined to take urgent steps to guarantee the safety of Africans in India including appropriate programmes of public awareness that will address the problem of racism and Afro-phobia in India," Alem Tsehage, the Eritrean ambassador and the diplomat representing other African envoys in New Delhi, said in a statement. They also warned against new batches of African students enrolling in Indian universities.
Hmm...serious stuff. And then.....
A number of African diplomats chose to boycott a planned event celebrating the history of India-Africa ties on Thursday.
African envoys are so concerned about a wider societal antipathy towards black people living and working in India, that the incident has prompted a diplomatic crisis in which African diplomatic representatives are discouraging African students from enrolling in Indian universities.

The latter part of Ishaan Tharoor's piece addresses the issue of anti-black racism in China - in this case, as evidenced by the racist detergent ad. As I read this section of the article, I couldn't help but notice that there was no mention of murderous mobs attacking Africans and beating them to death, nor did I read of any notion of a diplomatic crisis caused by the belief that the ad reflects a deeper violent anti-black prejudice in China.

In fact, in my opinion, the two incidents should not have been placed in the same article since the latter story of a racist ad somewhat diminished and detracted from the far more serious issue of a violent expression of anti-black sentiment in the former story which should have been explored in more detail.

Don't get me wrong here, I agree that media portrayals shape attitudes and can dehumanize groups of people to the extent that it has the potential to lead to violent behaviours and in and of itself, the ad certainly has the potential to do that. But from an Asian-American perspective, the idea of placing a negative media portrayal on the same level of severity as a racist murder seems to go against everything that both white America and our very own Asian progressive friends tell us about the Asian-American experience of race.

White America informs us that we need to lighten up in the face of anti-Asian media portrayals, and Asian progressives downplay anti-Asian racism as insignificant compared to the violent racism faced by black Americans. Yet, somehow an American media outlet suddenly elevates a racist ad to the same level as a racist murder. Bearing in mind that only weeks ago, Chris Rock paraded three Asian children in a live broadcast of the Oscars and proceeded to racially mock them in front of millions of viewers, the media's response to this Chinese detergent ad seems arbitrary and certainly biased.

Few, if any, commentaries in the mainstream media called Rock's skit an outright racist performance even though it was similar in scope and kind to the detergent ad - worse, perhaps, since it exploited kids. It is not controversial to say that anti-Asian racism is not taken seriously, and it is rare that the issue even makes the agenda of many politicians. Even ultra-liberal Bernie Sanders in his June 9th speech after meeting Obama, failed to mention Donald Trump's anti-Asian rhetoric and mockery of Asians in the early stages of his campaign for the presidency during his condemnations of Trump's anti-Muslim and Hispanic speeches.

In fact, the mainstream media at the time of Trump's anti-Asian rhetoric seemed largely apathetic to his racist speeches towards Asians, failing, in my view, to come out strongly enough to condemn him. There was certainly no one in the GOP nor the conservative media who called him out on his racism, and the liberal media's reaction was muted to say the least. It was only after Trump expanded his rhetoric to target Muslims and Hispanics that his racism was considered a problem.

Tharoor continues...
Yet many Africans who have come in the tens of thousands to China and India as students and businessmen, petty merchants and backpackers, complain of persistent racism.
And how does that manifest in the two countries? Well in India........
In February, a Tanzanian woman was stripped and beaten by a mob in Bangalore after a Sudanese man, in an entirely separate incident, was believed to have hit a local with his car.
Last year, an Indian publication put together a moving, sad video, below, of testimony from African students and professionals about their experience of daily discrimination. It also includes 2014 footage of a mob in a Delhi metro station attacking three black men with sticks, while chanting nationalist slogans.
Now that's bad. It seems that time and again, there are bouts of spontaneous mob violence targeting Africans in India. But what about China? How does the racism there manifest?

According to Tharoor, it is a "similar" picture.....
In China, it's a similar picture. In a 2013 account, an African American English teacher recounted his students complaining about their instructor: "I don’t want to look at his black face all night," one said.
Africans across the country, whether on university campuses or elsewhere, have also been subject to attack and abuse. Growing merchant communities in certain cities, such as in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou, rub up against a wider population that is ethnically homogenous and largely unfamiliar with the diversity and history of black populations elsewhere.
The African community in Guangzhou has taken to the streets to protest unfair treatment on a number of occasions, including in 2009 after the death of a Nigerian man fleeing a police raid and in 2012 after another man died mysteriously in police custody.
Sorry, but that is not a similar picture at all, not by any reasonable stretch of the imagination. On the one hand, you have disturbing incidents of spontaneous mob violence resulting in the murder of Africans. On the other hand, you have a case of racist students - kids - and cases of police brutality. Now racist students and police brutality are bad things, but is it reasonable to say that issues of spontaneous mob violence that must arise out of a mutual, widespread negative attitude towards blacks, can compare to racist kids or even police brutality?

This is not to say that police brutality towards blacks in China is not a terrible thing, but can it be implied that this reflects a larger, society-wide attitude of racist feeling? After all, we are not hearing of any cases of spontaneous mob violence in China, and police brutality is a problem faced even by the Chinese themselves, not just minorities and should be viewed as a part of a general democratic deficit and lack of political accountability. So police brutality cannot be used as a reliable means to gauge wider racial attitudes within China.

A little online research into Chinese attitudes towards blacks who live in, or visit the country reveals some interesting things. The reports of people crowding black people to touch their hair and skin, stories of how whites are favoured over blacks and other non-Chinese Asians and Asian-Americans, as well as reports of vicious online racism are cringe-worthy and terrible. Despite these somewhat uncouth attitudes and behaviours, what we don't find are any reports of mob violence against black people in which there is a spontaneous eruption of anti-black violence involving the apparently random assembly of racist mobs.

In short, it's beyond unreasonable for Tharoor to conclude that there is similarity in racist attitudes in the two countries, and it is completely unrealistic to imply that these attitudes manifest in a similar way in both countries. Even more telling is the way that the media has almost completely ignored the lynching of a black man in India, and become hysterical about a Chinese detergent ad. There is a great irony in this that suggests Indian attitudes towards blacks more closely resemble, in unexpected ways, American attitudes towards East and SE Asians - as this incident of two random strangers joining forces to harass a Chinese woman suggests.

Even the way that the media responds and covers Asian subjects resembles a mob mentality. Take for example, the case of student Jarrod Ha. Last year, Ha was set upon by a mob of white female rugby players at his college, where he was beaten, kicked, and then attacked by a male student, Graham Harper, who beat Ha, whilst repeatedly slamming his head into a car. This sounds like an attempted murder that was only prevented because Ha defended himself by stabbing Harper several times. In the aftermath of the attempted murder, it was Ha who actually was arrested and stood trial while Harper and the women who started the fight, have to date not been charged with a single crime.

The media reaction to the case had all the hallmarks of a mob mentality - almost all outlets that covered the case, painted Harper as a hero, and Ha as a villain, ignoring the facts of the case and all but asserting his guilt. Almost all early reports took Harper's version of the story as the truth and all but ignored Ha's version of events. The reasons are difficult to discern, but perhaps these outlets were responding more to their own bigoted concepts about Asian men's supposed misogynistic behaviours and attitudes, and that this clouded their capacity to report fairly on the subject. Just like spontaneous mobs in India who, perhaps, also congregate based on their ideas about black people, the American media spontaneously spurts biased reports based entirely on their racist conceptions of Asian people.

The point here is not to detract from the violence faced by Africans living in India, nor to throw South Asians under the bus since, in my opinion, the point of these kinds of media hysterics when describing racism perpetrated by non-whites is a kind of deflection away from America's own race problem. The point is to make us cognizant of how the media will manipulate tragedy to push an anti-Asian (specifically an anti-Chinese/East Asian) agenda. It is often lost on us that the media can use incidences of racism to promote racism and racialized thinking about Asians and their cultures. It's like giving with one hand and taking with the other and if we don't call it out, no on will.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

My Novel Has Been Published!!!

Just a notice that my novel has finally been published. After three years or so, it is now available for purchase through Amazon under the title, "The Legend Of Fu."

I self-published through the Amazon Create Space platform and is available only in paperback at the moment. 

You can buy the book directly at the following webpage.......


I have reprinted the novel's preface below......

History often surprises, with even the most casual study revealing unknowns about the past that, once learned – or re-learned – add a significant layer of context to the present. Without the past, we lose a significant portion of our identity, since our historical experience – both personal and societal – defines who we are, and frames the context of our experience. 

Identities are defined through our day-to-day interactions with those around us in an exchange of ideas and attitudes which can be thought of as our personal historical experience. All of this is set against a backdrop of engagement with the wider social, political, and historical context that has perhaps determined our social status and capacity to move across social strata, the opportunities that are available, and our level of engagement with, and inclusion in mainstream society.

It should follow, therefore, that the more knowledge we have of our history, the greater our ability to define who we are on our own terms. For those belonging to mainstream communities, this capacity for self-definition is a given - a natural by-product of being part of a mainstream whose identities are informed by saturation in a national historical biography and dominant culture.

For those whose lives are lived outside of the mainstream - such as racial minorities - this opportunity for self-definition is limited. Worse, as has often been the case in American history, racial minorities have been denied the opportunity to define themselves – both as individuals and communities - since access to their own historical experience has often been overwhelmed by mainstream narratives that have rendered them invisible, or have sought to outright marginalize and dehumanize them.

Either by design or disinterest, there are episodes of racial minority history that have been lost, forgotten, or even deliberately expunged from the historical memory. One such episode involves the history of the earliest mass immigration of Chinese people to North America in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. Coming from the old Chinese empire, these (mostly) male migrants were lured to America by stories of great fortunes to be made on the gold rich West Coast, or were brought as cheap sources of labor and recruited to drive America’s burgeoning industrial might. Many were enlisted as laborers used to lay down the Pacific railway that opened up the West for industry and settlement.

Even though as a nation we acknowledge this influx of Chinese migrants, our knowledge of their experiences once they arrived has largely been forgotten. There is certainly almost no cultural record of their considerable contribution to the settlement and development of the West Coast in the same way that the culture embraces Wild West cowboys and hardy settler families having given rise to that part of America’s identity which includes fearless pioneers and hard-living, rugged individuals who overcome any challenge thrown at them.

A study of these early Chinese migrants may reveal one very good reason why our culture has avoided mention of their experiences: they were on the receiving end of some of the harshest anti-immigrant violence ever witnessed on our shores. Between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries - a period spanning three to four generations - in dozens of west coast towns, Chinese communities were targeted by mob violence fostered by anti-Chinese labor agitation and antagonistic political rhetoric.
 
They suffered beatings, arson, murder, and expulsion from their homes and communities during episodes of violence that echo the anti-Jewish pogroms and expulsions carried out during the nineteenth-century in Tsarist Russia. This novel is set in the period of American history which lacks a voice for the long silent and silenced victims of anti-Chinese pogroms.

Taking place in late-nineteenth century San Francisco, this story borrows heavily from actual historical events. Set against a backdrop of the constant threat of mob violence, the story is woven together by harvesting actual incidents of anti-Chinese violence spanning several decades and dramatizing them to form the core of the novel. These incidents are deeply troubling and difficult to read, but this is the case because the actual events that inspired them were disturbing - all the more so because there was a subsequent and equally disturbing historical silence that effectively pardoned perpetrators of the crimes committed against the first Chinese-Americans.
The novel also explores the power of racist narratives and the stereotypes that are both spawned and driven by them. One such stereotype to emerge in this period was that of the Asian arch-villain - a dehumanizing caricature that embodied all of the base qualities of human nature into the form of a scheming and rapacious Asian man whose innate wickedness manifested in his “misshapen” East-Asian racial characteristics.

Sly, steely-eyed and forever engaged in devious efforts to undermine and overwhelm Western civilization and its values, the Asian arch-villain became the symbol of the implicit and insurmountable difference between the incomprehensible Eastern and the rational Western mind. The notion of Asiatic incomprehensibility formed the foundation of anti-Chinese sentiment that still clouds modern day attitudes towards East Asia and its people. In the nineteenth-century, this idea of mutual incompatibility drove and justified anti-Chinese racism and led to violent expulsions from dozens of American west coast towns.

Other aspects of the arch-villain stereotype evolved over time, and more dastardly qualities were afforded it. By the nineteen-forties, the Asian arch-villain with all of his wickedness and deviousness had become a full-scale cultural phenomenon and was perhaps the most influential and visible representation of Asian men of the time. By this period, the Asian arch-villain had become, in his most extreme incarnation, a semi-supernatural creature, whose devilish plots were aided by ungodly mystical power and a threatening hyper-intelligence geared towards the destruction of the American way of life.

Given America’s past commitment to Caucasian racial purity and the consequent imposition of anti-miscegenation laws, it should come as no surprise that the Asian arch-villain was also imbued by his creators with an obsession for undermining racial purity. A rapacious craving for white women to be used as sexual objects and slaves became a major motivation ascribed to the Asian arch-villain. In real-life, the unfounded accusation that nineteenth-century Chinese communities were kidnapping white women for sexual slavery became a rallying cry that preceded many a mob rampage.

All of these factors have been incorporated into the story - particularly the supernatural aspect of the stereotype. Seeking to turn these racist fables on their heads, the stereotypes have been referenced to highlight the rabid prejudices that beset Chinese migrants of the time. This novel attempts to demonstrate the idea that significant swathes of American society engaged with, and reacted to, Chinese migrant communities based almost entirely on manufactured and false testimonies about them.

This is the power of the dehumanizing racial stereotype when coupled with a lack of opportunities for racial minorities to define themselves within the mainstream culture. The attitudes that drove Americans to violently expel and murder Chinese migrants in the nineteenth century became the framework through which subsequent Asian immigrant groups were marginalized, and which contributed to, and culminated in the large-scale incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II. With this novel, I hope to bring to our cultural consciousness the immense price paid - in the blood of pioneer Asian-Americans - for their right to call themselves Americans. 

It must be mentioned that even though Chinese migrants are the subject of the story, I am not an Asian of Chinese descent. As an author, I struggled with the idea that a lack of personal acquaintance with Chinese culture(s) might hinder my ability to describe a “Chinese experience”. This is a legitimate consideration, but misses the point of the project in a number of ways.

Firstly, when living under circumstances that are life-threatening, the most basic human instincts for survival supersede cultural conditioning. Thus, I developed the characters via their human natures, acting in accordance with universal survival instincts rather than through their cultural sensibilities.

Secondly, there is a danger that when people not of a particular culture attempt to write about it, they will utilize clich├ęs that detract from the narrative. This story relates dramatized actual historical events without being cluttered by cultural peculiarities that might detract from the primary intent of the novel. Thus, it is the hope of this author that readers will not become unnecessarily distracted by assessing the authenticity of cultural nuance, and thereby miss the larger historical overview.

Thirdly, although this is an Asian-American story based on a history that has affected, to varying degrees, all Asian-Americans, it is ultimately an American story. This is an important point, since it records long-forgotten American history that recalls the actions of both white Americans and those of the Chinese they victimized.

Some readers might find it difficult to believe the extremely cruel and violent nature of the events described in this novel. The historicity, however, of the anti-Chinese violence portrayed in the novel has been thoroughly explored in a very harrowing investigation of the subject made by Jean Pfaelzer in her book “Driven Out”, and to a lesser degree, in John Kuo Wei Tchen’s book, “New York before Chinatown”. I would like to direct readers to these two thoroughly researched historical books for further investigation into the experiences of Chinese immigrants of the period. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I Saw It Coming

A Slippery Slope Of Slanty Silliness.

I saw it coming, I really did. The attempt by Asian-American band, the Slants, to get their name trademarked has seemingly empowered  and encouraged others to increase their efforts to trademark racially demeaning terms.

Since my exchange with Simon Tam of the Slants that was published in "Where are you from", I've stayed largely out of the debacle of the Slants attempts to have the US government trademark their band's name. But recent events have caused me to sit up and take notice.

In the wake of the band's attempts to trademark their name, and following an important legal ruling, none other than the representatives of the Washington Redskins have stepped forward to voice support for the right of cultural and business entities to trademark racially demeaning titles. For those who don't know, the Washington football team has been embroiled in an ongoing battle with the trademark office to keep their team's name - redskins - which Native Americans find extremely derogatory and dehumanizing. I agree with the Native Americans - any name applied as a descriptor for an entire group of people is inherently dehumanizing even if its intent is not to be so or it is not ostensibly negative.

In a recent article, posted to his blog, bassist Simon Tam rejects the claim that his case can be reasonably used to support the Washington bid. He outlines three points that show, he feels, the differences between the two cases.

The first point follows...
Unlike REDSKINS, THE SLANTS is not an inherent racial slur. “SLANT” means a number of different things and the racial connotations are so obscure, nearly every major dictionary publisher removed the racial slur from its list of possible definitions. REDSKINS always has been used as a racial slur and has a long history of demeaning Native Americans. “SLANT” has not. It has been and is a commonly used “neutral” term (according to dictionary experts, it was obscure even during the height of its racial use in 1920-1940).
The problem here, is that there seems to be great degree of uncertainty about the origin of the word "redskins", and that it is not at all certain that the term was coined to be derogatory, or even that it was not used - in the past - by the First Americans to describe themselves. Some argue that the term was itself a "neutral" term that simply described the cultural habit of some tribes who painted their skin red. According to a study by Smithsonian historian, Ives Goddard, the term's origins were both benign and used by Native peoples to describe themselves.

If you peruse some of those links, you will notice that some supporters of the Washington football team are using some familiar arguments to bolster their case. In this article, a guest panelist for Fox news, argues this....
"When’s the last time you heard someone use that as a racial slur?" asked Pete Hegseth, a guest panelist on the Fox News show Outnumbered. "It’s not used commonly at all as a racial slur. It’s used historically to refer to — a term of respect to people."
This is remarkably similar to what Tam has argued in his quest to enlist support for his case - the term "redskins", like "slant" is no longer used to demean or dehumanize, but rather, these terms are being used in a positive way (somehow!).

On a final note on this point, the argument that the term "slants" was obscure even at the height of its usage seems to somewhat ignore the fact that Asians themselves were "obscure" during the same period of history. Decades of strict immigration controls that all but halted Asian migration, coupled with the fact that Asians were largely herded into segregated ghettos, meant that the vast majority of non-Asian Americans were unlikely to have encountered many Asians on a regular basis and so the prevalence of usage for the term compared to the population size of non-Asian Americans would likely be small.

Furthermore, this reasoning further damages Asian-Americans, since it relegates the Asian experience of racism relative to the term "slant" to a secondary significance to that of the racists who abused them. Tam is effectively saying that we can determine the significance of a racial slur based on how it is utilized by the racists who use it, and not how it affects those being targeted. This becomes clearer when we consider the relative population sizes of Asians to non-Asians at the time.

Between 1930 and 1940, the Asian-American population fell by around ten-thousand from 264,766, to 254,918. The general population rose by roughly ten-million during the same time period from around 122 million to 132 million. This means that  during the period when the term was most common, at no time did the Asian-American population ever reach even half of 1% of the total population. If we grant that the vast majority of this 132 million people had no contact on any regular basis with Asians who were largely concentrated in small enclaves on the west coast, then it becomes clear that any racial slur directed at them would have been an "obscure" occurrence within the society at large.

Tam does a disservice to our Asian pioneers by ignoring their experience - it's absolutely irrelevant how often this slur was used by non-Asians when spread across the wider population who had little to no contact with Asians. What is important is how frequently this term of dehumanization was experienced by the Asians themselves. If all 264,766 Asian at the time were abused with the slur every day, it could still be considered an "obscure" term because set against the larger population it might never find widespread usage even though the Asian targets were experiencing it regularly. To ignore this possibility simply deprives Asian -Americans of that era their voice and their history.

Tam continues with point two.....
REDSKINS has a substantial composite of Native Americans demonstrating serious concerns over the name. THE SLANTS has not garnered wide protest from Asian Americans; in fact, quite the opposite. Our band has been supported by lifelong activists, organizations, academics, and other experts who understand the sentiment of our community.
This is a bit of a double-edged sword. We can again refer to demographics to illustrate how spurious this argument is. The Washington football team is a national franchise with an international following whose players, and those otherwise associated with the team, receive far more media and societal attention in one game day than the Slants might receive over a period of weeks or even months. By contrast, not only are the Slants less visible due to their comparative anonymity, they are possibly not known to most Asian-Americans 75% of whom are foreign born and average forty-four years in age and who, therefore might not be into popular music or culture of this kind, may not be familiar with the history and significance of racial slurs and how they represent the popular simplified expression of millenia of western racist philosophy and science.

The point is that it is possible that the Slants' support derives from a mere fraction of the actual population of Asian-Americans and does not represent the attitudes of the majority at all. In fact, I might suggest that it is more likely that Tam's support comes from a demographic of Asian-America that is in the minority (even, perhaps, of the American-born), but which has greater engagement with social media, America's and Asian-America's cultural milieu, and which is more vocal and visible within it.

As for Asian activists supporting the right of Asian-Americans to demean themselves - I'm not surprised nor impressed. My observations of Asian activists is that they are not even remotely close to understanding our community's sentiment and quite often seem engaged in attacking their own communities. If these activists who support Tam's case are anything like these guys, then all the more reason to oppose!

Where Tam's argument becomes a double-edged sword is in his appeal to popular support for how his case is different to the redskins' case. According to this Forbes report from last year, Washington revenues amounted to roughly $440 million dollars, working out to around $40 "per fan". This means that the Washington support probably runs into the millions - possibly more people support Washington than there are Native-Americans who number roughly 3 million people, not all of whom may actually find the term "redskins" problematic. Thus, we have a situation where there may be vastly more Americans who believe that they have "reappropriated" the term and are using it positively, than there are who oppose the word. If the majority of people using the term "redskins" positively outnumbers those who find it offensive, then the demographic numbers argument fails to support Tam but supports the case of the Washington football team.

You might argue - as Tam does in his third and final point - that the "referenced" group's attitude should be taken into account, but this has no logic or reason to support it as I'll explain next.

Tam's third point is as follows....
The owners of “REDSKINS” are not members of the “referenced group,” unlike THE SLANTS. It’s important to remember that of the 800+ trademark applications for variations of the term “slant,” only one was denied for being a “racial slur.” In other words, the Trademark Office never considered it to be a slur against Asians until an Asian applied. The Trademark Office clearly expressed that the only reason why they associated our trademark application with a racial slur was because of my race. They wrote, “it is uncontested that applicant is a founding member of a band…composed of members of Asian descent…thus, the association.” In other words, if I were white, like every other applicant in the history of the country, it would have not been questioned to begin with.
This is where the whole house of cards falls apart. Tam complains that the association of his race with the term "slants" is why it has been viewed as a slur by the trademark office. Yet, elsewhere, he has argued that he is not referencing the Asian race by his use of the term, although in his article he clearly states that his band does use the word as a means of referencing his race. I'm confused too.

Worse, there is nothing implicit in this argument that excludes people who are not the group referenced by slurs from deciding to use them positively - to say that white people cannot be allowed to reclaim a slur and change its meaning is racist. This means that although there may be some cause for concern that non-Asians could trademark the term slant, whilst Asians are prevented from doing so, there is no reason why non-Asians should be forbidden reference to racial slurs in their trademark as long as they can show that they have used these terms in a positive way. And Washington wins.

This is exactly what the Washington football team is arguing - they have reclaimed the word "redskins" and are using it in a positive way. Given Tam's argument, and the fact that the trademark office seems set on granting his band the trademark, it should follow logically - and perhaps legally - that Washington will be granted the same rights. After all, isn't it racist to deny trademarks based on race?

Finished with his three main points, Tam writes....
Also, while I personally believe in the power of reappropriation as a tool to create social change (as I explain at YOMYOMF here and here, TEDxUofW here, at RaceFiles, and to TIME), our legal argument isn’t constructed on this point. You can read our entire brief and all of our arguments, via JDSupra.
This is a somewhat disturbing point. As the links in his own article indicate, much of Tam's writings that I have read have argued that his band has used their name as a way to reappropriate a formerly derogatory term. In and of itself, this contradicts claims that their name is not a racial reference, even though the band has garnered support from the community precisely by pushing the idea of empowerment through reclaiming a slur. Of course, one has to wonder how you can reclaim a slur that has apparently fallen out of common usage without first re-acquainting society with its derogatory meaning.

That aside, it seems as though there has been a bait and switch used on Asian-Americans - on the one hand, arguments have been made, articles written, and seminars given that seem to put forward the idea that the band is fighting to appropriate a racial slur, then we find out that this has absolutely nothing to do with their legal challenge at all! Call this what you will, but to me it throws doubt on the alleged outpouring of support that the band has received - do people actually know why they are supporting the band? I'm not so sure any more.

What the Slants' case highlights is that the Asian-American experience of race is often hidden behind a thin veneer of racial double-entendres and vagueness. The fact that the racial slurs that dehumanize us are so deeply ingrained in the language that we can hear and experience terms of racial abuse even when these terms are not being used racially, is a testament to the throw-away and off-handed nature of anti-Asian racism in America. 

Racial slurs sometimes used to describe Asians also have benign, alternative definitions which means that they can be, and are, often used in a way that permits plausible deniability on the part of the user. I often argue for greater nuance in the Asian-American conversation on race, but in the case of ambiguous, double entendre racial slurs directed at Asians, I think that more nuance is the last thing we need.

Instead of adding definitions to dehumanizing racist language, we should be striving to reduce definitions so that all ambiguity is removed from them. This is especially pertinent in the case of ambiguous anti-Asian racial slurs which enables a kind of verbal racist hit and run that strikes, then disappears into the safe ambiguity of the language. 

The Oxford Dictionary recently made moves to change its definition of the word "marriage" so that it includes same-sex unions as opposed to solely male/female unions. Although they are not the first dictionary to do this, it highlights the significance of words and labels to help establish social and cultural norms and practices. If it is that easy to redefine words, then vague, racial double-entendres that characterize anti-Asian racism can and should be redefined to help to establish social and cultural norms and practices that diminish opportunities for racism to propagate behind the ambiguity of the language.

The word "marriage" is not implicitly demeaning towards homosexuals just like the terms "chink" and "slant" are not implicitly derogatory towards Asians, yet, unlike the latter two terms, it is hard to use the word "marriage" to actively demean homosexuals. If word definitions can be changed to avert the "passive" negative ramifications of their meaning, how much stronger an argument we have to redefine ambiguous words that are co-opted to actively demean Asians so that their most racially negative, dehumanizing meaning becomes the predominant or, perhaps, only one.

In this light, it is difficult for me to see how the Slants' case would benefit Asian-Americans in any meaningful way. Other than to add more confusion to the mix in a situation where confusion and ambiguity already empowers anti-Asian racism, the Slants case would make it even easier for such racism to exist. There are absolutely no benefits to Asian-America, nor are there benefits to the causes of other minorities. If anything - and this has become obvious given the support offered by Washington - a win for the Slants would set all minorities back.

In summary, while I can appreciate that the Slants are one of the only bands of their kind, and that we should support them with our fandom, nothing has happened since my previous engagements with Simon Tam to convince me that his cause has any benefits either for Asian-Americans or minorities in general. As I - and circumstances - have shown the Slants' case has merely given impetus to entities whose cause is harmful to ethnic minorities. In this case, fears of a slippery slope are not fallacious - by supporting the Slants, Asian-Americans "activists" have empowered white racism, again.

Of course, being the rational and fair-minded guy that I am, if someone can explain how and why the Slants' case benefits, empowers, or advances Asian-Americans or their issues in any way, I would be quite willing to change my view.