Mar 11, 2008

Arthur Who?: Confronting Anti-Islamic Opinion in Asian Week

In today's Asian Week Opinion, Arthur Hu posted a vitriolic response to Michelle Obama's statement (a lifetime ago, it seems) that a particular moment was the first time she'd been proud to be an American (taken out of context and clarified ad-naseum, so I'm not going to go there).

His text includes this nugget:

Nearly half of America is crazy about the man, but I haven’t seen a survey asking if America was ready to promote a son of Islam, Christian or not. Even McCain had to apologize for a host who emphasized Obama’s middle name.

You should get the idea from that. I'm getting fed up of the islamophobia or just flat out bigotry that's coming up in "Asian American" spaces. I want to think that it's just ignorance, but I suspect that it's worse: Asian Americans, even those who think that they are representing some kind of dissident or civil rights voice, have bought into the American bias hook, line, and sinker. It makes navigating Asian American spaces really difficult for Asian Americans who are either Muslim or work in Muslim communities (read: South Asian). I'm not taking this shit anymore. I'm calling these people out.


Eugene said...

People will often say/think/do bad things against people of another race to make themselves feel better.

I've always wished that people of color would stop and think a minute about what they are accomplishing with their interethnic conflict? Other POC folks aren't the oppressors.

Is this interethnic conflict, a colonial and postcolonial phenomenon. Or has this shit been always going on?

I wanted to add that I appreciate your comments on BPR and I appreciate the insights you write on your blog. Peace.

Rage said...


Thanks for writing in, and for the warm comment about this blog. BPR is an inspiration to those of us striving to create spaces in other places.

And I definitely hear you about uncritical racist responses by other people of color (Asians, in this instance). But I do think that there's a specific undercurrent of anti-islamic sentiment that is surfacing in mainstream Asian American groups.

I don't know if it is because the groups remain primarily staffed by East Asian Americans who don't have the contact or context to know what they are saying and doing is offensive, or if it goes deeper than that. I've grumbled about it with a few friends for too long without writing about it - but I'll try to post some examples as I find them.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree with you more. You could say the same with some of the anti-black or anti-hispanic attitudes that are also prevalent in AA forums.

Rage said...

anonymous - I definitely agree. I think there, the gap between people who see clear linkages in an anti-racist agenda and those who seem to just focus on "Asian pride" as a slightly broader version of ethnocentricity is clear.

Feels like people are happy to use this new-found "Asian" identity as a way to vent out their built-in biases against other people of color. That is not the community I want to align myself with.