An Open Letter to Asian Americans and Jews: Don’t Go Woke

Right now, I am seeing Instagram posts from many of my Asian friends about a spike in crimes against elderly Asian individuals. My girlfriend told me about it as well, and I felt as if she was imagining someone violently attacking her parents. I am not saying that this spike is a non-issue, but I am curious as to why we are only talking about this right now. Curious is the wrong word. Suspicious is a better one, but even that isn’t the right word. Let me explain.

I have read a few articles trying to find an explanation as to why this is a hot issue right now. Is there a crime spike against Asian individuals right now? I haven’t found any evidence of this. In fact, most articles I read reference an old statistic: “NYPD data showed that there has been a 1,900% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City in [the first half of 2020]”. I actually would predict that this trend of increasing violence/discrimination against Asian Americans is over. The coronavirus is currently ubiquitous, and the lab leak hypothesis is finally gaining traction which would exonerate the Chinese partially, in terms of fault for the virus. I would not be surprised to find that targeting of Asians has decreased. The point of note is that this data is from the first half of 2020. To me it seems like we are focusing on this now because we are finally getting to the end of the backlog of grievances. I would encourage Asian Americans to ask themselves, “Why are my grievances being backlogged?”

Let’s look at this anti-Asian hate incident spike in the early months of the pandemic. First, it was predictable. Even without Donald Trump calling it the China Virus, we could have expected anger and aggression towards Asians by ignorant individuals. Second, the data that confirmed such a prediction was available very early in the pandemic. An organization called Chinese for Affirmative Action, documented 1,900 incidents of anti-Asian discrimination by May 13,2020 after only 8 weeks of recording (Roughly 34 documented incidents per day). Notice that date. That is a few weeks before the death of George Floyd and the resulting demonstrations over the summer. The prediction was obvious, and the data to confirm was available, but there was no action or demonstrations.

The posts and articles that I have seen bringing focus and attention to this phenomenon right now are making what I would consider a critical flaw. They are following the “Woke” playbook and appealing to the “Woke” movement. I would say to Asian Americans: you will find nothing but pain that way. As I have been pointing out in this essay, your grievances were backlogged, and they will always be backlogged. Why?

  • Remember last year when BIPOC replaced POC? That was to differentiate between strata of victimhood according to race. Asians could call themselves POC, but that put them in the same racial strata as Black and Indigenous people, thus BIPOC.
  • Have you ever been referred to as “White-Adjacent”? That’s right, the woke movement spies with their little eye, a racial minority that is “as privileged as White people”. It takes about 3 seconds to look up median income, and see that Asian’s have the highest median income of all racial groups in America (even white and it’s not even close).
  • Have you ever heard Asians referred to as the “Model Minority”? Yes, you are being called out for playing the game by the rules and being successful at it.
  • Do you remember when there was a trend in the younger Asian community of “confessing” that their Asian parents were racist? There is something deeply troubling about a movement that encourages children to betray their parents. It is common among collectivist movements to try to reallocate loyalty to family over to loyalty to the movement.
    • As usual, it is a troubling practice rooted in truth. There is a lot of value to learning to stand up for what you believe to your parents, especially if your parents hold beliefs that lead to discrimination and mistreatment of others based on skin color. It is less confrontational to laugh it off or stay silent, but that is kicking the can down the road.

Do any of these things sound/feel familiar to you? I bet they do. I bet I also know something that would feel less familiar to you: anyone in the Black Lives Matter movement talking about the events in Koreatown in LA during the LA Riots. And if any Jewish people are reading at this point, pay close attention to this story. It may be familiar.

In 1991, a man named Rodney King was assaulted by 4 LA policemen. This beating was caught on video and was broadcast by news organizations. People were outraged and rightly so. The next year, the four officers were acquitted, and riots began that would result in 63 dead, 2,383 injured, 12,000 arrested, and over $1billion in property damage. Much of this violence and property damage would occur in Koreatown, and we need some background to understand why.

In 1991, a 15-year-old Black girl named Latisha Harlins was shot in the back of the head by a Korean convenience store owner named Soon Ja Du, as a result of a verbal altercation instigated by Du accusing Harlins of attempting to shoplift an orange juice. Du was convicted of manslaughter, but a sympathetic judge changed her 16 year sentence to 5 years’ probation, 400 hours of community service, and a $500 fine. This seems to have been the violent climax of rising tensions between the LA Korean and Black communities that had been escalating for decades. A quote from an LA Times article:

“The case also reflected deeper tensions. African Americans complained for years that Korean merchants treated them with rudeness and contempt. Korean merchants, in turn, said that a language barrier hurt communications and that the high number of gang crimes at the time — some of which claimed the lives of Korean store owners — put them on edge.”

In many black neighborhoods, as white business owners began to leave, Koreans would purchase these businesses from them. As a result, there were black neighborhoods that had mostly Korean owned businesses. As spoken about in the quote above from the LA Times article, this put the Korean shop owners in a great amount of danger and their treatment of Black customers was less than exemplary. When the fire of the LA Riots was lit, it was time for retribution against these “contemptuous” Korean shop owners, and much of the anger in the Black community was diverted towards Koreatown.

As Koreatown was looted, the city closed off roads to prevent the violence from spreading to white neighborhoods. Police all but abandoned the Korean inhabitants and they had to defend their shops themselves with any guns and weapons they could find. When the riots burned out, Koreatown was leveled. Remember when I said there was over $1billion worth of damage in LA? Well $850million of it happened in Koreatown. These Koreans were first- and second-generation immigrants trying to carve a life for themselves within a system that was tilted against them. They were abandoned by their local government while they were preyed upon by their neighboring minority communities as a Kristallnacht was enacted upon them.

Yup, that last sentence right there was to bring in the Jewish folks reading this. This story of the LA riots bears an incredible resemblance to Kristallnacht. Kristallnacht is German for Crystal Night, which was called such because of the broken glass of Jewish owned businesses, buildings, and synagogues after a 2-day looting spree all across Germany in 1938. The riots were catalyzed by the killing of a German diplomat by a Polish Jew, and Nazi paramilitary forces along with angry German citizens carried out destruction on Jewish communities all over Germany as the government stood back and looked on.  In 1938, Germany had been captured by Hitlers rhetoric that Jews, although a minority, were the enemy of the German people. Jews owned many of the businesses in Germany and were quite successful despite tough economic times in Germany, making them an easy target to be fed to the angry mob.

There are plenty of differences between Kristallnacht and the destruction of Koreatown (most obvious is that there were no Nazi paramilitary forces at the LA riots), but they bring up the same important point for the Asian American and Jewish communities: How long before you are turned against by the “Woke” movement and classified as oppressors or complicit in oppression? Well, it is already happening. Look at the anti-Zionism that is brazenly infecting California’s public-school curriculums. Look at the odd and unaddressed connections between prominent BLM figures and Louis Farrakhan. Look at the articles published explaining how Jews are complicit in White Supremacy, despite the fact that the last truly dangerous “White Supremacist” movement successfully exterminated 6 million of them (That statistic gets tossed around all the time, but it is not often contextualized by the fact that there were only about 9.5 million Jews in Europe at the time. This means over 63% of them were murdered and that number was increasing every day).

I think everyone should reject “Wokeism”. I believe Western Liberalism is the best cure to all of the problems of bigotry and inequality and “Wokeism” is trying to destroy Western Liberalism. If you have trouble buying that, check out this quote from Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado:

“Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.”

The reason this is an open letter to Asian Americans and Jews is because I believe these two groups must learn this lesson the fastest. As the two most successful minorities, Asian Americans and Jews will be the first to be sacrificed at the altar of “Wokeness”, after all the white people who will not bend a knee and demonstrate fealty and atonement.

P.S. I believe this might be one of my more contentious essays. I want to remind everyone that I encourage engagement. If you have something to say, go ahead and comment. I will respond. If you do not feel comfortable commenting and want a more personal conversation, my social media is made available on this site. Heck if you want to call me and talk about it, that can also be arranged.

P.P.S. For anyone wondering how I feel about the shooting of Latisha Harlins: I feel like it is likely that Harlins was trying to shoplift the orange juice. I think Du reacted in the complete wrong way, and I think the manslaughter conviction and jailtime were justified. I believe, however, that it is a story of two people living in conditions that were unmanageable and they were both casualties. The essay discusses the dangers that Korean shop owners faced in LA and I cannot imagine being a small Korean woman and having to run a convenient shop by myself. I would guess I might do some things I was not proud of. Harlins, on the other hand, was only 15 years old and her life was jam packed with misery. Her father was openly abusive towards her mother. They eventually divorced when she was 7 and her mother was shot dead outside a night club two years later by the father’s new girlfriend. She lived the rest of her short life in the custody of her maternal grandmother and aunt. It seems like the 15 years Latisha had on this earth were absolutely tragic, at least from a bird’s eye view.

P.P.P.S. Whenever I bring up the LA riots, which I promise is not that often, my girlfriend recommends a book to me called Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha. I have yet to read it, but it is relevant and she tells me it is really good.

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