Last week, Fox News’ “The O’Reily Factor” aired a segment by one of its longtime correspondents that turned out to be little more than racist drivel. In the segment, Jesse Watters takes a trip to New York’s Chinatown under the guise of trying to investigate how the Chinese-American community responded to foreign policy debates on U.S.-China relations. Watters’ piece shouldn’t be misconstrued as containing any semblance of real journalism, since it mostly focused on using cheap sound effects and humiliating defenseless Chinese grandmothers on national television.
What’s most unfortunate about the segment is that sentiments like Watters’ — that it’s alright to make Chinese people the butt of political jokes because they won’t understand or won’t care to understand — are not out of the norm for a lot of self-identified Americans, especially among Republicans. This election cycle has been a year of normalizing casual racism while pretending that being an awful person is simply a rejection of PC culture. As Daily Show correspondent Ronnie Chieng put it best: “Everyone’s been wondering who’d be the target of 2016’s racism, but I didn’t even know Asians were in the running!”
The blatant disregard for Chinese-American political action in mainstream American culture renders invisible the community’s long history of political struggle. Asian-Americans — a broad category and range of cultures and ethnicities that is too often simplified to those of East Asian descent — have contributed hundreds of collective years of labor, culture, passion and genuine blood and sweat to build this country. And for what? So Jesse Watters could make a few easy cracks at the expense of people who don’t speak English?
Sure, there may be some truth to the stereotype that these communities can be insular, but that is likely only true among recent immigrants who are busy trying to set their lives up in a foreign environment to be able to worry about abstract political theory and organization. But for younger generations, there is no shortage of political ambition. There are plenty of Asian activist groups on NYU’s campus, for example. Asian-Americans have no fear in taking on issues like systemic racism — just look at the crowdsourced Google Document that evolved into the Letters for Black Lives project.
To write off Asian-Americans as irrelevant is just one more dire mistake for a political party that, hopefully, is in its final death throes. The Republican Party may have stood for genuine values in the past, but it is abundantly clear that the culture of de facto racism it fosters, in cooperation with its media partners, is catching up to them. Asian voters are one of the fastest growing demographics in the country, and hold a lot of electoral power. And thanks to idiots like Jesse Watters, when Asians vote, they’ll vote for Democrats.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, October 11th print edition. Email Emily Fong at [email protected]