One Reason Why America Will Not Be Solving Prejudice and Discrimination Issues Anytime Soon
A recent article involving statements made by a GOP candidate in Texas for a seat in the House of Representatives got me thinking about the intractable problem of prejudice and discrimination in America. To summarize what prompted my ruminations:
There is a Korean-American woman running for a seat in The House who was quoted as saying, in referring to potential Chinese immigrants: “[t]hey steal our intellectual property, they give us coronavirus, they don’t hold themselves accountable. I can say that because I’m Korean.”
Before going on to the reaction by others to these statements, I pause to consider the statements themselves. One thing that strikes me is that it sounds much like a recent former occupant of the White House: “they” are bad people, a generalized attack that is meant to be exactly that, and meant to denigrate “them” and promote prejudicial views.
Another troubling thing is the sentiment that because she is Korean, it is somehow alright to be prejudiced against Chinese people, and to actually announce that prejudice while running for a position in the U.S. government.
The main problem with all that is that the last place we need such thinking is at the top, from people elected to represent We the People. But it seems that more and more, that is what we have — along with more than a few conspiracy-theorists, misogynists, and other undesirable and unfruitful people using their elected positions for an improper purpose. We send them to Congress to represent our interests — not to promote their own hatreds, prejudices and biases, and crazy conspiracy theories.
What makes the story more interesting, and also is a basis for hope, is that two sitting Congresswomen — both Republican and Korean-American — have spoken out, have called the candidate out, and have withdrawn their previous endorsement of the candidate.
The candidate (who was formerly an administrator in the Small Business Administration under Trump) has refused to either clarify her statements or to apologize for them. Instead, she has tried to turn the matter around and blame the two Congresswomen, while also trying to do a belated faux clarification; that her comment was only “directed at the Communist Party of China.” That, of course, is not what she said; and in my humble opinion is not what she meant.
Unfortunately, there is yet another problematic aspect of this candidate’s rhetoric, and it is her claim that Asian Americans are not experiencing an increase in violence directed at them. Says that candidate (in a separate interview with the Dallas Morning News): “[t]he biggest difference right now is people are filming it — and the media choosing to report it. Asians have always faced violence. It’s not worse than before.”
Please observe the Trumpian attempt to blame the media. But while there is likely some sample skewing arising from more “people filming it,” there is little doubt that violence against Asian-Americans has increased substantially. In a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, anti-Asian hate crimes reported to police in America’s 16 largest cities surged by 145% in 2020 over 2019, while overall hate crimes decreased by 6%.
Interestingly, the first spike occurred in March-April 2020 — which makes sense given former President Trump’s (and others) negative comments and characterizations about COVID-19 (the Chinese virus, Kung Flu, etc.) at that time.
It makes me sad, but hate, prejudice, and discrimination will not decrease unless and until our own elected leaders — and candidates seeking that honor and privilege — can check their own prejudices and biases at the door, and then take seriously their obligations to address issues for their constituents and for America, and not their own personal whacked-out viewpoints.