Could It Get Any Worse For Asian Americans? Trump Made Sure It Did.
It would be something of an understatement to say that race has
never been America’s forte. In fact, it’s been downright damn awful
since the country’s inception. Consequently, the world has looked on
for way too long now at a morally ambiguous United States that has
preached to the rest of the world regarding human rights, but at
the same time, for centuries, has been a race relations train-wreck.
Black Americans have held the massively unfortunate accolade of
being white America’s most visible racial victims of choice. Slavery,
Jim Crow, lynchings, police brutality, socio-economic
disenfranchisement and so on and so on.
Yet that misery is not just
black America’s burden to bear, far from it. White supremacist
hatred really does hate anything else other than white. Sure, the
Irish, Italians and Slavs, to name but a select few, have all come in
for their fair share of mistreatment in the United States, but that
was relatively fleeting. In stark contrast, anti-Asian racism, just
like ongoing black oppression, keeps on going and going.
A later start than black Americans, Asian-Americans first tasted
the acrid bile of white supremacy in the mid-nineteenth century.
Chinese labor that came to America to mine the mines and build the
railroads were excluded from regular society by way of both
legislation and every day societal “regular” discrimination. Fast
forward to the Second World War and Japanese-Americans were
interned on mass on the trumped-up charge of being a “security
risk.” (Let’s be clear here, that was imprisonment on the basis of
race, not guilt).
Discrimination against Asian-Americans in the United States has
then had a long and despicable history. And then along came the
poison of Donald J. Trump masquerading as president. His track
record on race was already well known – appalling. And he damn well
made sure that he was going to make it worse.
Hiding behind the veneer of a cheap populist cry of “America First”,
Trump singled out China as the country’s primary economic and
military enemy. It was low-hanging racially discriminatory fruit.
“China took your jobs” screeched Trump, ignoring the fact that
American big business did that by relocating production to China to
make good of cheaper labor and maximize their profits further still.
American workers? Meh.
Or turning a blind eye to Trump’s tacky branded goods more often
than not, being manufactured in China for the same tacky, profit-
How about Trump slamming South Korea and Japan, key regional
allies, regarding the cost of defending them in an area of enhanced
geo-political consideration and very much in America’s interests to
actually do so?
And how the MAGA mob bought into all of that bigotry. Then came
COVID-19 and the damn of anti-Chinese / anti-Asian discrimination
burst open, bigly. Trump and his circle of goons were quick to keep
identifying the virus as being “Chinese”, even on occasions making
reference to it as “kung ‘flu” – a remark about as funny as finding
blood in your pee.
Inevitably, such rancid rhetoric came with consequences. Hate-
crime attacks against Asian-Americans have sky-rocketed since
Trump took office, and even more so as the COVID-19 pandemic
ravaged the country, culminating with the deadly Atlanta murders
just a few days ago. The victims were singled out because of their
Asian ancestry, pure and simple. Incredibly, the local (white)
sheriff, in a post-massacre press-conference, made reference to
the now detained assailant as having “a bad day.” That the same
sheriff had recently promoted the sale of anti-Chinese, COVID
related t-shirts online should then come as no surprise.
And that’s the problem. Day-to-day racism in twenty-first century
America, both casual and brutal, has become so normalized that
when it happens, it really is no surprise any more. Sure, it’s tragic,
sad, destructive and infuriating, but surprising? No. Not now.
Asian-Americans therefore have every reason to be as incensed as
their black American brothers and sisters. The United States
remains a white person’s privilege. That’s how it was founded to be
and, true to plan, has stayed that way since the Declaration of
Independence. Trump and his like will do everything that they can
to ensure that continues.
The rest of the world moves forward, the
United States continues to burrow backwards, enchanted and
intoxicated by it’s late eighteenth century white, male, elitist DNA.
Are all white Americans racist? No, absolutely not. Are all
American racists white? Hmmm. You get the picture when it comes
to American home-grown bigotry and one that Trump went out of his
way to ensure became bigger and bolder on the screens of our
decency than ever before.