Reflections on Asian and Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month
How the pendulum of race has swung from one extreme to another.
The month of May was “Asian and Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month.” Although that jumble of words was repeated for thirty-one days, l still don’t know what the words mean.
I could ask an in-law who was born and raised in the Catholic part of the Philippines, but it’s doubtful that she would know either.
It’s even doubtful that anthropologists and ethnographers would know.
The reason for the doubt is that the words are meaningless. They don’t describe a real ethnocultural group, one with a distinct heritage, culture, language, nationality, and history. Asian and Asian Pacific Islander American is a made-up group, just as the official government categories of Asian, Hispanic, and White are made-up groups.
It would be like aggregating into an artificial group other diverse peoples who have little in common but a land mass or body of water. Some possibilities: Caucasian Caspian Sea American, or Middle Eastern Arabian Sea American, or Southern European/Northern African Mediterranean Sea American, or Eastern European/Scandinavian Baltic Sea American.
Sounds silly, doesn’t it?
Well, silly is what the diversity movement has morphed into since I was at the leading edge of it when it began in 1990.
There are over one thousand unique ethnocultural groups in the world. If each were to get its own month, it would take over eighty years to recognize all of them. But there is no need to do that, because the diversity industry and its ideologues in departments of diversity and inclusion have solved that problem by reducing the rich diversity of America and the world into a handful of authorized categories.
They are masters of demographic reductio ad absurdum.
They also excel at getting so-called wokes to put their brains into animated suspension and go along with this and other absurdities, all in the service of their idealism and imagined moral superiority.
Always quick to virtue signal, pander and condescend, the A&E network is one of them. It ran spots during May saying that Asian and Asian Pacific Islander Americans are scientists, dancers, entrepreneurs, actors, veterans, leaders, and other accomplished people—as if that surprises the network.
This Italian would be insulted if A&E were to run spots saying that some Italians are accomplished, as if the underlying belief is that most of them are mobsters.
How did we reach this point of widespread group-think?
Like a lot of bad ideas, it began with a valid point.
Decades ago, the point was made that Eurocentrism prevailed in America, meaning that the views and writings of Europeans and their American descendants dominated academe, media, government, and industry. This gave birth to the counter idea of multiculturalism, which nudged the pendulum in the opposite direction.
Other positive forces in the opposite direction were civil rights and voting rights laws, the War on Poverty, equal opportunity legislation, and affirmative action. These were initially intended to help African Americans overcome the legacies of slavery but quickly were extended to other racial/ethnic groups, who, deluding themselves about being victims of oppression on a par with blacks (or Native Americans), began referring to themselves as minorities or “people of color,” which subsequently became one of the most hackneyed expressions in common usage.
The fact is, no ethnocultural group is in the majority in America, as every group is in the minority, statistically speaking. For example, my ethnocultural group, with its heritage going back to peasants in Lombardy and Piedmont, is a tiny minority in America. Moreover, that heritage is quite different from the heritage of the Puritans on the Mayflower, or the heritage of the mob that lynched eleven Italians in New Orleans, in the largest mass lynching in American history, and one that was widely applauded at the time.
To return to the metaphor of the pendulum, the pendulum was nudged again with the advent of the aforementioned diversity movement of 1990. But then it accelerated to supersonic speed when the diversity movement and everything positive that came before it was hijacked by illiberal extremists known as wokes, as well as by critical race theorists and their Marxist comrades, who replaced the old dialectic of class with the new dialectic of race, but with the same objective of overturning the existing order to achieve the utopian fantasy of equal outcomes, with them in power, of course.
Behind this lurch to the extreme left is the racist belief that all whites—a category that is undefined and undefinable—are privileged and consciously and subconsciously prejudiced. A corollary is that all of America’s major institutions have been controlled by whites since the nation’s founding and thus reflect white values and way of thinking. As such, whites should be forced to atone for their misdeeds by authoritarian and euphemistically-named departments of diversity and inclusion, where the cure for old prejudices is new prejudices.
This has led to Marxist-like reeducation programs in corporations, government, and even k-12 schools, whereby whites are shamed into making false confessions about their inherent racism—as if only whites can be racist, or as if only whites have been oppressors and enslavers throughout history.
Exceptions to this stereotype are not allowed by the revolutionaries, regardless of historical facts to the contrary. Whites who recently emigrated from the Caucuses, for example, don’t get a pass, even though emigrants from Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Armenia, Georgia, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Dagestan are not privileged, wealthy, politically powerful, or responsible for slavery, Jim Crow, and other injustices against African Americans.
Whiteness alone is enough to disfavor Dagestans for positions of authority in government and industry, so that the positions can be given to favored people of color, such as East Indian Americans, who rank at the top in household income and mostly come from an upper caste in India. It’s been decided by whomever decides such matters that East Indians can bring a unique minority perspective to the workplace and classroom but Dagestans can’t.
Iraqi Americans are also excluded from diversity and inclusion programs, although they rank near the bottom in income and have experienced horrible oppression, especially Iraqi Shias at the hands of Iraqi Sunnis. Nor will they get their own month. They’re the wrong color, and they’re a real ethnocultural group, not a made-up one.
Speaking of a made-up one, let’s return to Asian and Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month before the cancel cops come to the door.
Because of the contrived designation, there had been a lot of mention in the media during May about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
The shameful act is a part of American history that should be taught and discussed, although Irish Americans might not want to know that part of the impetus for the act was Irish railroad workers, who resented and envied Chinese laborers. Unlike the Chinese, the Irish workers didn’t bathe, clean their clothes, or save their pay, choosing instead to spend their money on women and liquor. Maybe that’s why Chinese Americans have higher household income today than Irish Americans.
It’s a cherry-picking of history, however, to focus on the Chinese Exclusion Act to the exclusion of the xenophobic Immigration Act of 1924, which limited or stopped the immigration of other undesirables, especially Southern Europeans. This cherry-picking leaves the erroneous impression that immigration laws never discriminated against Europeans or that Europeans didn’t come in different colors and classes.
Maybe that’s the intent. Maybe there is a political agenda behind all of this.
Judging by what the racial revolutionaries say and do, that’s not a farfetched conclusion.
It sure seems as if the pendulum has swung wildly from old forms of prejudices, discrimination, stereotypes, and xenophobia to new forms. Strangely, the people and institutions behind this swinging think of themselves as enlightened.
They shouldn’t believe everything they think.
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.