Anti-Asian Hate Crimes and the New Cold War: Why We Mustn’t Act Like U.S. Foreign Policy and Racism Aren’t Related

The recent massacre during the Lunar New Year in America underscores growing anti-Asian hate.

The Connection Between U.S. Imperialism and Racism Does Not Get The Attention It Rightly Deserves

“It was a joyful kickoff to the first Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park since before the pandemic, with large crowds filling the streets in the majority Chinese American city near Los Angeles for live entertainment, carnival rides and plenty of food.

But the celebrations were marred by tragedy Saturday night after a gunman entered a ballroom dance hall and opened fire, killing 10 people, wounding 10 more and sending panicked revelers into the streets.”

The article, published by AP News, is entitled “Asian community reeling after Lunar New Year shooting.” And reeling would certainly be accurate, but it may not be inaccurate to say that much of the Asian community in America has been reeling for a while now. Not since the beginning of the pandemic, but for decades, and arguably since the arrival of Asians to the continent. Indeed, there appears to be no real study of how anti-Asian hate was stoked by years of anti-Chinese rhetoric as well as by rhetoric aimed at foreign nations, many of them non-white. In particular, the “Pivot to Asia” during the early 2010s and its psychological effects on the masses in America seems to be neglected. While there is much blaming of Donald Trump on stoking fears of a “Chinese virus,” you will find hardly a word spared for how U.S. imperialist policy has negatively affected the perception of foreigners within the United States and how that may affect ethnic and racial minorities with ties to those target nations.

As an article in the People’s World states by Cindy Li from last year states:

Just as 9/11 turbocharged Western Islamophobia, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a tsunami of anti-China propaganda and vitriol which was always quietly simmering beneath the surface of polite Western society. The current torrent of hate and prejudice has not just targeted the Communist Party of China but has had far-reaching effects on random Chinese-passing East and Southeast Asian people in Western countries.

As early as March 2020, members of the Chinese diaspora reported attacks and verbal assaults about “going back to China” in the streets of U.S. and Canadian cities. One woman in New York had acid thrown on her face while taking out the trash. Countless others were accused of causing the virus, being “CCP agents,” or “evil” communists. Some were spat or coughed on, and Asian shop owners reported instances of violence and racist comments from customers.

That U.S. imperialism can feed into racist narratives in a twisted feedback loop between media portrayals of other nations and popular stereotypes about racial minorities in the domestic front should be an idea that’s taken for granted, if not something considered virtually unquestionable and self-evident. Per Gerald Horne in an academic paper entitled “Race from Power: U.S. Foreign Policy and the General Crisis of ‘White Supremacy’” for the journal Diplomatic History and the death of literature connecting racism and U.S. foreign policy: “Still, despite the richness of this plethora of studies, few have sought to place the construction of whiteness in the context of U.S. foreign policy – although this global context was highly relevant in this process: minimally, preventing the proliferation of ethnic tensions that had helped to plunge Europe into war so often encouraged the construction of “whiteness” and “white supremacy.” For the most part these studies have not sought to include Africans – as opposed to African Americans – in its comprehension of the construction of “whiteness”; nor have they contemplated that the closing of the frontier in North America and the final defeat of Native Americans led directly to an assault on the “frontier” in Africa.” Can one believe that U.S. imperialism during the 19th century wasn’t tied in some way to racism (and vice versa)? Do we read in the textbooks about the incursions into Indigenous territory yet act like the 21st century is somehow different? That the same logic doesn’t apply? Horne goes on to further state: “Nor have these studies, broadly speaking, posited Asia – and notably Japan’s rise after its 1905 defeat of Russia – as a central factor in the evolution of “white supremacy.”

Anti-Asian Hate in Virginia

Given that the FBI undercounts the amount of hate crimes happening in the USA, we could be encountering a more serious problem than originally anticipated. “Advocates have also tracked a rise in noncriminal hate incidents, from hand gestures and racial slurs to ‘being told to go back to our country,’ said Cynthia Choi, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition to address anti-Asian racism. ‘And this is happening largely in spaces that are open to the public.’” And indeed the FBI has a history of suppressing BIPOC or BIPOC-led movements within the United States so a dragging of feet or slowness of matter is to be expected.

Furthermore, Gov. Glenn Youngkin blocked the construction of a Ford battery plant in Virginia due to, in his reasoning, it being used as a front for China in the United States. In 2021, it was estimated that Virginia ranked 11th in terms of hate crimes compared to other states in the nation. Another article in CNN notes: “Multiple schools in Fairfax County, Virginia, are under investigation after allegedly failing to give students their National Merit Scholarship recognition in a timely manner, before many students submitted college applications.” The students in question were of Asian descent.

At a time where a growing movement within the government is moving to try and restrict the new social media platform TikTok, ostensibly due to the platform being based in China, an article from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) can’t help itself with the fear mongering, putting a headline that says “When the geopolitical threat of China stokes bias against Asian Americans.” Such a childish headline only underscores the fact that liberals will continue to repeat lies straight from the Trump administration so long as they look respectable. You are more likely to say that China is a threat and be praised for your bravery than to say the very opposite of that claim: that China is the very opposite of a threat and that we should be working with them to mitigate environmental and ecological catastrophes. It is further disappointing since the article goes on to show that there is strong evidence for the idea that Americans do indeed hold bigoted views to Asians in the United States and in particular Chinese based on the idea that China is a geopolitical threat. The willingness for international researchers to pursue positions or careers within the United States have also taken a nose-dive, at least in part due to fear of anti-Asian bigotry.

The Virginia CPUSA must continue to look into this issue and find ways to raise awareness of the issue. But more than that, as we focus on housing and the trans community in Virginia, ways to alleviate the wave of hate crimes, particularly against Asian minorities, must be sought after and pursued as we grow as a district. Having set up a permanent presence in Virginia from early 2020 onward, let us look forward to finding ways to broaden the struggle and help out in any way we can.

Elijah Jones

Recommended media on the current rise of anti-Asian hate:

Further recommended readings on related topics:

Stop Asian Hate (for resources on how to help)

VACPUSA Condemns the Bipartisan Sinophobic Lies from Rep. Wexton (D-VA) and Waltz (R-FL) – VACPUSA

Poll: Distrust of Asian Americans is rising

U.S.-China Tensions Fuel Outflow of Chinese Scientists From U.S. Universities – WSJ

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