"I suppose there are people who can pass up free guacamole, but they're either allergic to avocado or too joyless to live."— Frank Bruni

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

asian americans not on radar

Faux pas, Newt. Faux pas.

 (photo cred: Associated Press)
Yet another Republican candidate debate was on last night - this one was in Florida. Shown on NBC and moderated by Brian Williams, the debate also had 2 guest moderators, one of whom was Beth Reinhard from the National Journal and formerly of the Miami Herald.

Reinhard asked the candidates (but mostly directed this question to Newt) why is it okay to push for English as the country's official language, yet campaign in Spanish. I suck at paraphrasing, but allow me to try: Newt's response was that historically, campaigning has always met the voters on their own ground, in the terms of their culture. He continued his (what I thought to be convoluted) defense of his use of Spanish-language campaign ads, saying it's similar to interacting with Greeks on Greek Independence Day or Irish people on St. Patrick's Day.

The Irish on St. Patrick's Day?? The last I got drunk off multiple green-colored beers, I thought everyone who cared to wear green, get drunk and/or enjoy cabbage 'n' corned beef celebrated St. Patrick's Day. Aside from leprechaun decorations, St. Patrick's Day is as Irish as General Tso's chicken is Chinese. Americans have pretty much made it their own holiday (yes, even if there is an Irish Heritage Month, which I bet most Irish-Americans don't even know about). Sure, its origins are Irish but how many 'proud Irishmen' in the US celebrate it as an ethnic or cultural holiday? I doubt millions. Which brings me to my next point.  There are, however, millions of Asians in the US and billions worldwide who celebrated the first day of the Lunar New Year yesterday. According to the Census, there were 3.8 million Americans of Chinese descent alone in 2009. For this to not be on the mind of men who want to be president of the United States, especially when one can have the ability to think of something like Greek Independence Day (no offense to the Greeks), is a complete faux pas. Ignorance perhaps, but definitely unwise. Newt didn't have to say the Lunar New Year; he could have said Eid for all I care. I would just like to be refreshed by hearing recognition of the world beyond the West.

Yes, I'm biased, and yes, I'm always ready to use the race card, but that's because I've been correct in doing so time and time again and because it's natural for you to look out for your own, but this goes beyond that. Perhaps I'm thinking this through way too much, but implications for foreign and diplomatic relations can be milked from this too, since the rest of the world is undoubtedly watching, but it definitely reflects how Asians are constantly off the radar of policy makers (with a handful of exceptions) and how there is still a lack of cultural awareness. Maybe I'm being oversensitive. Maybe. But after thinking I may be oversensitive my entire life thus far, it seems to me that by now, I and other Asian Americans should have been thrown a bone by now.

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