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Nadra Kareem Nittle

Asian American Faces Racism in Orange County Congressional Race

By October 31, 2012

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Barack Obama isn't the only politician on the receiving end of racism. A Taiwanese-American congressional candidate in Orange County, Calif., has been hit with hate mail because of his ethnic background. First a businessman sent Jay Chen an email last week calling him "gook," "slope" and "slant-eyed." Then an anonymous man left a voice mail for the Democrat threatening to harm him for being a "little Chinese f---er."

Arguably worse than the hateful messages directed at Chen is the way the campaign team of his opponent, Republican Congressman Ed Royce, reacted to the controversy. One of the racists who verbally attacked Chen openly supported Royce. Royce's representatives denied any connection to the racist rants but then accused Chen himself of cooking up the messages as some kind of campaign strategy. This reminds me of when Ron Paul supporters launched a xenophobic video ad during the Republican primaries that characterized then presidential contender Jon Huntsman as un-American because the former Utah governor can speak Mandarin and has two adopted Asian daughters. When Huntsman's team called foul on the ad, Paul's supporters said that he'd created the video himself to focus attention on his struggling campaign.

Is this the reaction marginalized groups should expect now when they bring racism to light? In the past minority groups were often told that they were being too sensitive or misunderstanding things when they complained about racism. It seems the new trend is to accuse minorities of drumming up racist situations for gain. This isn't simply blaming the victim. This is re-victimizing the victim. It ignores the fact that most people of color find racism unsettling and distressing. I'm sure Chen was both hurt and angry to have received messages calling him racial slurs. To accuse him of making up the hate mail likely only added to his pain.




April 30, 2013 at 12:02 am
(1) Anon says:

Thank you for saying this. I totally agree and Orange County is known for being incredibly racist. Right off the bat, you just get an “icky” feeling from certain people here that tells you they’re racist. The general attitude here, especially from older people is one of intolerance.

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