An uptick in violent attacks on Asian Americans in cities like New York and San Francisco has sparked a social media campaign to “#StopAsianHate.” While the violence is of very real concern and must be addressed, the campaign itself should be approached with skepticism.
Without any substantiation, media coverage attributes the surge in attacks to White supremacy and xenophobia and labels the violence as “hate crimes.” Almost inevitably, these reports also suggest that former President Donald Trump‘s words on the origins of the coronavirus is to blame for the attacks.
Framing the coverage in this way advances the left-wing narrative that racism, perpetrated by conservatives, is pervasive in America. But closer examination reveals that most of the crimes don’t fit that narrative.
In the few articles that actually present security camera footage or police report descriptions, the attackers do not quite match the usual media profile of the average Trump supporter. Moreover, the attacks are taking place in cities not historically known as bastions of conservatism, much less hate-fueled Trumpism.
So why does the coverage try to frame this as right-wing violence?
One possible explanation is that it is part of a broader strategy to create the illusion that White supremacy is on the march and Asian Americans are the next to be swept up.
Make no mistake. Both left and right covet the Asian American vote. Not only are they the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country, but they also have the lowest voting percentage.
And what better way for the left to gain Asian American solidarity with their agenda than to rope them into a racially driven social movement? This is the exact same strategy the left deployed when it was reported that anti-Semitic attacks reached an all-time high in 2019. Now, as then, they discuss the attacks in the same language used in the #BlackLivesMatter calls for social justice and equity.
But the Asian American community may prove a tough nut for the far left to crack. Culturally, most Asian American immigrants, especially earlier generations, tend to agree with core conservative values and principles, including individualism, hard work, entrepreneurship and religion.
This is certainly the case in my family. My parents immigrated here from Thailand in their early teens. When my dad wasn’t working the night shift, he was teaching me how to play ball and ride a bike. When my mother was younger, she worked hard to learn the language, juggled two jobs in high school and was — and still is — extremely prudent when it comes to managing her money. This has been the path for many Asian Americans, and it sure is a very conservative one by today’s standards.
The left knows this. Many resent Asian Americans for being a “model minority” that demonstrates the validity of the American dream. In their eyes, we’re not a “real” minority. Rather, we’re told, we are “White adjacent.”
Now, however, the left sees the rise in attacks against Asian Americans as an opportunity to reframe Mr. Trump‘s tough stance on the Chinese Communist Party as being somehow anti-Chinese or anti-Asian American.
The #StopAsianHate campaign looks more like a movement to stoke fear of racism and gain Asian American support for critical race theory than it does a campaign to bring attackers to justice. We cannot allow ourselves to become pawns in this game of racial division.
The truth is there is no evidence that attacks on Asian Americans are a part of some surge in right-wing violence. Nor do they appear to be the work of those who would consider themselves supporters of Mr. Trump.
We must take these attacks seriously, and that requires an honest examination of the facts. Each incident must be investigated on a case-by-case basis, and the media should report it that way, without dressing their coverage with unsupported charges of racism. We can address discriminatory attacks without buying into critical race theory and identity politics.
And Asian Americans must not allow ourselves to be duped by efforts to undermine our confidence in our own unique American way of life.
• Scott Zipperle is a program associate in The Heritage Foundation’s Congressional Relations Department.