Why Don’t We Take Hate of Asians Seriously?

Photograph Source: The San Francisco Examiner, February 1942 – Public Domain

We have to problematize the purely academic extrapolation of Asians. I remember this slime popping up after Dylan Roof. According to an analysis quoted on NBC Scott Kurasige, Roof was operating on the premise that Asians were a “model minority” and that a core of white supremacy is to mobilize Asians against Black people.

Such is the divisive abstract garbage that is nearly universally accepted in academic circles, and of course it’s all actually based on real existing stereotypes. What is the problem with the premise of taking the manifestos of white supremacists as fundamentally true? I want to break it down in the same way we have addressed the divisiveness of so-called class reductionism.

We must begin with the fundamental question of why the stereotype of Asian as model minority is being used. I think this is obviously the question. We shouldn’t be digging through the manifestos of white supremacists, seeing whether or not they confirm the institutional bias against Asians, because of course they will, as they are reactionary.

What we should rather be asking is the reverse. Why are institutions accepting the white supremacist ideology that Asians are the model minority? It is largely, of course, for the same reasons, to divide and conquer the public.

But serious people really do try to minimize the pervasiveness of hate of Asian people through the lens of the model minority myth. In fact, I think this is where we can most clearly cut through the noise. The turn in mainstream discourse has not been to disavow the model minority myth. Rather woke people accept the model minority as true, somehow, and use it to explain white supremacist ideology.

The easy answer and the right one is that the model minority myth is in fact the white supremacist ideology.

Joe Biden continues to peddle hate against China. In his debate with Donald Trump, Trump complained that Biden called him a xenophobe and Trump claimed that it was his xenophobic policy towards China that helped slow the coronavirus. Moving beyond the nutty nature of Trump’s claims we hear an equally problematic pivot by Biden. Biden says that no, he wasn’t calling Trump a xenophobe towards China, but rather he was, of course, speaking of other incidents, involving what Trump would like to call shit hole countries.

What this marked was a shift from Trump to Biden in terms of where hate must be located. People grew weary of Trump’s location of hate on the border, for while it did successfully indoctrinate Americans with hostility towards immigrants and away from the ruling class it also left America in a weak international state, as Trump lashed out at whoever didn’t submit to his antics. In this way, while Trump did his job of dividing the working class his inability to personally oblige with institutional norms risked causing a divide within the ruling class. The ruling class was more split on Trump than we are supposed to believe, with the middle class favoring him, but many saw Biden as a useful pivot, no matter who they preferred.

Biden could pivot the hate towards China and organize America again around a unified confrontation rather than a divided defense. While Trump hated China enough for the ruling class, his strategy was to beat them at trade, rather than diplomatically organize against them with allies. Biden wanted us to come together to defeat hate and defeat China at the same time.

In this way Biden is perfectly expressing the model minority myth ideology. By hating Asians we are supposedly pivoting away from hating other races because Asians are not only successful but brutally so, to the point that they will willfully keep other minorities down to attempt Western civilization, which of course in our eyes they will never achieve. This is because the West is considered the moral majority, the mediator of conflicts between various sectarian Others. The civilizing force.

China on the other hand is only praised in this backhanded manner of the model minority. If they fail, it’s because they are a failure, if they succeed then the success isn’t a moral or legitimate success but rather a success without human rights, democracy or civilization at all. Biden thinks that by hating China and condemning Trump’s brand of hate he can form a national image in the way Trump never could. He could be the patriot Trump never was.

Will it succeed? It seems impossible that Biden will be able to address the reason we must hate China and why they must be framed as a model minority who rather than being shorted by society, has been unfairly elevated. Domestically the model minority is seen as a criminal in their own way because they have cheated the system of affirmative action by beating whites.

Either way of course the Asian is both successful and criminal. Asian women are seen as submissive but overwhelmingly powerful in their seduction. They are seen as civilized but civilized only through the dirty tricks of the minority.

What we see is that these stereotypes shift based upon the necessity of their deployment. Ultimately all these problematic people are solved with violence, with pollution, low wages, etc. It’s all the same shit. The content behind the stereotype changes but the policy towards the minority is always to treat them as a threat. The model minority, like the welfare queen is seen to be stealing something that isn’t theirs.

We should have learned our lesson. When the President preaches hate, the nation follows. Our lesson should not be that Bill Clinton hates Black people or Donald Trump hates Latinx people or George Bush hates Muslim people or Joe Biden hates Asian people. Rather we must look at the tendency for a crisis to be explained through the scapegoat.

But we are, as much as I want to stick with the theme of a consistent narrative, dealing with a specific stereotype. The Black person can be labeled criminal, the Muslim person can be labeled terrorist, the Latinx person can be labeled illegal, the Asian person can be labeled as the model minority. But these just popped over my lifetime and history would use other stereotypes.

While the media has been right to condemn hate crimes linking Asian people and the coronavirus, what they haven’t accounted for is their own complicity in normalizing hate through the model minority myth, a trend that long outdated the pandemic. By making the absurd claim that Asians could never be victims of racism and only co-conspirators of it, we found a useful way to explain our antagonism with China’s communist power.

Hopefully, those who spend a lot of time trying to figure out how different marginalized groups interact will soon look at how they intersect. The problems for those in power change, but we cannot take their word as to what they think is driving their ideology. Sure they may believe China is a threat to life as we know it. Yet the fact that this idea is materializing merely shows that China has had success at a game they weren’t invited to. Likewise, Asian people are labeled as they are because they aren’t supposed to be where they are.

Power and wealth will change hands, as will education and standing in society. The stereotypes will adapt, and people will begin to believe things as true without consideration for the material protection of truth and lies. This blindness is useful to maintaining power, but does nothing to explain it. China, in its centralized response to the pandemic, risks becoming “too good” and what we must remember is that the opposite of being “too good”’ is not the “too evil” minority who the “too good” minority dominates.

Good and evil are two sides of the same coin and they are employed ultimately the same way. As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: “The text has disappeared under the interpretation.” Good and evil cannot begin to explain why our society fails. Were police wrong to say the recent killer of Asian women was having “a bad day”? If the implication there is that anti-Asian resentment has been systematically built into us and that it took only a bad day to push one into extreme acts of violence, I completely agree.

I don’t think we were wrong to blame Trump, among others, as the real instigator of some of the hate crimes during his era. The same standard could be applied to Joe Biden. What is history but a double standard, a moving target, a pitiable attempt at explaining a complex society with easy answers?

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at pemberton.nick@gmail.com