How Elites Co-opt Asian Suffering

A new $250 million foundation is the latest example of opportunism.

Over the past few months, the nation has seen a spree of high-profile violent attacks that impacted Asian Americans.

As I’ve written elsewhere, it’s not entirely clear that all or even most of these attacks are motivated by explicit racial animus. We’re in the midst of a massive violent crime wave, and Asian Americans are going to bear the brunt of it just like anyone else is. Still, stereotypes about Asians — the perception that they move into inner city neighborhoods and monopolize business, or that Asians are too timid or meek to fight back against criminals — are probably a factor in this spate of attacks.

Yet much of the news media has been blind to these dynamics, choosing instead to pretend that “white supremacy” or conservative political actors are behind the violence. Even a brief perusal of recent attacks will show this to be absurd; many of the attackers aren’t even white, none appear to be white supremacists.

This Narrative established by the mainstream press has allowed left-leaning Asian American celebrities to essentially appropriate the pain of those being attacked — who are largely working-class or elderly people in American cities — to talk about their own niche issues.

Is writing a piece about the “casual racism of mispronouncing an Asian person’s name” really going to do anything from stopping a grandmother from being beaten and robbed by a career criminal? The author of that piece complains about an award show that mispronounced the name of an actor and used the wrong photograph and then concludes:

I find it exponentially more disrespectful that this error was made during an event that celebrates the theater, an industry in which artists of color are already pressured to water down their stories, language and entire selves to be palatable for white artistic directors, collaborators and audiences. Amid an unprecedented closure due to COVID-19, so many theater companies have released statements to their patrons, declaring that Black Lives Matter and that violence against Asian American Pacific Islanders is unacceptable. But these boilerplate sentiments say nothing without meaningful action — which, at the very least, calls for pronouncing names correctly and getting photos right.

Excuse me? “Meaningful action” about street violence plaguing American cities entails…pronouncing names correctly at this upscale award show this author cares intensely about?

To the average person in America, none of this makes any sense. But as with so many other issues in America, a well-educated and upwardly mobile elite is quick to make anything that’s happening in the country about themselves and their pet issues. My colleague Shant Mesrobian pointed to another example, which took place shortly after a string of horrible shootings of spa workers around Atlanta, Georgia (an incident that was never even shown to be racially motivated):

The latest example is a newly-established organization called The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), which has apparently amassed a whopping $250 million from support from, among others, Amazon, Bank of America, Coca Cola, Google, JP Morgan Chase, Wal-Mart, and other major firms.

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