Monday, April 11, 2016

Echo Chambers

And The Perils Of Self-Importance.

It would be something of an understatement to say that the Peter Liang trial has heavily divided the Asian-American community - particularly Chinese-Americans. On the one hand stand those who offer unequivocal support for his conviction, and on the other are those who argue that Liang is being scapegoated for political expediency.

Liang's supporters have caused some significant surprise having turned out by the thousands in several cities around the country to voice their concerns that Liang has been hit with disproportionate charges for what every legal entity involved with the case agrees was an accidental shooting. They also note the unequal application of the law - white officers who have committed observably intentional killings have escaped prosecution entirely.

It is worthwhile to note that even amongst Liang's supporters, there is a marked diversity of opinion. The underlying sentiment is that Liang has run afoul of political maneuvering and is being offered as a morsel of reprise to stave off black rage at the lack of accountability for mainly white officers who kill unarmed people in suspicious circumstances. Although some of Liang's support decries the manslaughter charges as excessive and merely the result of political expedience, others are focusing on the sentencing and calling for the judge to show leniency.

Noticeably, the idea that Liang should not on any level be held accountable seems to not be a prominent sentiment amongst his supporters. Their concerns are that he is being disproportionately charged for what everyone agrees was a tragic accident, that this incident would not have been afforded the same legal significance if previous cases of police excess had been brought to account, and not only that his race makes him a convenient scapegoat, but that prosecutors would not have gone after him with such perceived disproportionate harshness if he had been of any race other than Chinese. I think they raise points that demand our attention but, as you might have guessed, our new money progressive friends within the community disagree.

Following the widespread demonstrations, a council of the righteous high and mighty was convened on Google hangouts in which four of Asian-America's moral superiors and a credibility-providing African-American friend (and here) expounded on the "problem" of this surge of support for Liang. All participants introduced themselves as very important activists for all kinds of causes except Asian- American ones. The stated aim of the council was to "reframe" and "re-center" the conversation via an "open and honest dialogue about true racial solidarity."

No, that isn't canned laughter you are hearing.

Far from engaging in an open and honest dialogue, the participants simply repeated each other's biased and uninformed views with several of them coming close to slapping themselves across the head in frustration at the lack of compliance coming from the Chinese FOBs who, apparently, have made our progressives look bad - which seems to be the primary cause of angst for these guys. Coming across very much like a council of some religious inquisitor, the participants took turns at self-righteous condemnation of Liang's supporters, utilizing such tactics as name-calling and racial stereotyping. I could not help but feel as though there was an ironic element of fobby face-saving going on stemming from a kind of horrific realization that Asian progressives are not only out of touch with Asian immigrants, they have grossly underestimated their own understanding of America's racial quagmire.

Against all progressive proclamations, it is the Chinese FOBs - not the American-born progressives - who have shown a deeper and far more nuanced understanding of the complexities of a multi-racial society in which racial thinking and racist injustices do not flow in a solitary direction from white to black, but do, in fact, encompass a multi-directional experience in which racist attitudes and behaviours manifest amongst all groups.

Maybe it would have helped their case if the panel has exhibited some small degree of charisma, yet I couldn't help but wonder if they had shot up with a downer like heroin, or gotten deeply stoned and watched the movie Magnolia in preparation for the podcast. Suffice it to say, the proceedings were so mind-numbingly dull that I had to slap myself on the head with an old insole to keep myself awake and remind my brain that I wasn't watching an hour-long slow-motion replay of a kettle boiling.

A hugely significant issue that I had with the panel was that there were no representatives present from Liang's supporters to give a balanced and fair representation of their side in their own words. Of course, when podcast host, Diane Wong of 18 Million rising, proclaimed at the very beginning that the aim was to "reframe and recenter...honest dialogue", I should have guessed that I would be in for a treat of misrepresentation, inflammatory stereotyping and outright self-delusional lies.

For example, at around the 5:20 mark, Wong accuses the Chinese media of pushing a polarizing and anti-black narrative, yet she fails to provide any evidence for this. That must be what "re-framing" means; to make inflammatory assertions without evidence. With Wong having set the tone of the podcast, Oi Yan Poon (who, apparently, is a respected academic) continues with a lengthy name-calling screed in which she asserts - again without a shred of evidence - that privilege and anti-black racism is motivating Liang's supporters.

Poon goes on to reinforce the extremely racist stereotype that these Chinese FOBs are overly deferential to authority and, somehow, their political activism is an act of subservience. The double-think is strong with this one. She continues with the accusation that Liang's supporters are driven by a desire to enter whiteness - again, a claim asserted without evidence. Yet, rather than show a moral failure on the part of Liang's supporters, it is the intellectual limitations of the panel that comes through most clearly here; Liang's supporters genuinely think that he has been scapegoated by the white judicial system in order to further protect and deflect attention away from white officers who murder. The progressive panel seem to lack the wherewithal to present a coherent argument that counters this simple belief.

Poon's claim, therefore, makes no sense and can only be an emotional outburst to make herself feel better. This is a huge logical error on her part that could have been avoided if only the panel had bothered to actually engage with their opponents in a constructive way that fostered the flow of ideas. Instead, they opted for a kind of primal scream therapy in which they unleash their ignorant self-induced resentments without reference to facts.

Unbelievably, it gets worse - much worse. Poon ends her screed by trying to explain the actions of these 21st century Chinese FOBs by citing a couple of civil-rights cases from almost a century ago that involved Asian plaintiffs. Poon never bothers to illustrate how these cases have influenced Liang's supporters, nor does she offer any evidence that they have even heard of these cases. All this seems to actually show is that Poon and the panel have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to the motivations of Liang's supporters and are relying on made-up narratives to slander them. 

The other Asians on the panel merely echoed Poon's distasteful and racially inflammatory comments, not really adding anything different and only repeating the buzzword "anti-blackness" and their dehumanization of Chinese immigrants, never once offering any evidence to justify their claims nor bothering to hide their blatant bigotry.

The only interesting moment during the whole podcast came from the black panellist - "Fresco" - which was priceless and worth enduring the horrific dullness of the the rest of the show. Having listened to the "reframed and re-centered " narrative of the Asians on the panel, she quietly asserts a bizarre narrative of her own which seems to stun the Asians. The seconds of awkward silence were awesome after she claims that Asian anti-blackness derives from a history of global chattel slavery that Asians apparently participated in and not from an appropriation of whiteness as had been claimed. The Asian panellists looked like they had been slapped with a wet sock and I loved it.

Although her claims were largely nonsensical, Fresco exposed the flimsy foundational premise of making anti-blackness the focus of Asian-America's race conversation. Asian progressivism agitates to force the Asian racial experience into the limited confines of the black/white narrative. This means that we have to abandon our history in order to contextualize our experience relative to African-America's and implicitly accepting any black historical narrative even though it is clearly false on occasion. It is clearly false that chattel slavery of Africans was a significant phenomenon in East or SouthEast Asia, yet our panellists could not challenge the untrue claims of the black panellist without abandoning their primary principle - centering anti-blackness.

The Asian racial experience has to be examined relative not only to our position to whites but also to other ethnic groups, and the simplistic - to the point of being dumb - premise that our past can only be understood through the filter of the relationship between blacks and whites is merely a way of giving up our identity and avoiding the heavy lifting of establishing Asians as a concept within our nation's cultural, social, and political milieu.

To emphasize just how out of touch with reality the panel was, at around the twenty-eight minute mark Wong describes Gurley's killing as a murder - a charge that not even prosecutors tried to make. Either through dishonesty or self-delusion, the panel could not even get the basic facts of the case right, choosing, instead, to increase potential tension between Asians and African-Americans by "re-framing" the facts of the case. If we do find ourselves in a situation where Asian immigrants come under increased violent attacks from African-Americans, then we can thank our progressive friends for contributing to this state of affairs.

The most telling part of the podcast came at around the forty-seven minute mark, again from Doc Poon. Describing her response to e-mails from those who disagree with her worldview, she proudly admits that she simply dismisses and deletes their e-mails. It takes a huge amount of self-involvement to openly admit to dismissing other people's points of view in the midst a podcast in which she asserts with certainty that she knows what is motivating Liang's supporters.

Poon's sentiment was repeated in a blog post she wrote, titled "What are we fighting for?" published on the AngryAsianMan website in which she - with a kind of hysterical melodrama - ponders the apparently difficult question of why these Chinese FOBs have risen up in support of Liang. These happen to be stupid questions since in order to find out why Liang has so much support, all she would have to do is ask his supporters why they support him. Yet, she dismisses and deletes any communication from his supporters and wonders why she cannot understand their point of view. Go figure!

Thus, Poon should understand that there is no "we" per se, because creating a "we" would entail not dismissing people who have a different way of approaching issues. There is no "we" because Asian progressives have chosen to dehumanize Asian-America with blanket accusations of rabid anti-black racism, and reinforce inflammatory stereotypes that can only lead to more black/Asian tensions and anti-Asian violence. 

Sadly, many Asian-Americans will be swayed and impressed by the self-righteous moral grandstanding exhibited by the panel on this podcast, which only means that we can expect a steady increase in anti-Asian attitudes from our fellow Americans who might cite the "proof" of Asian progressive rantings to justify their prejudices.

On the bright side, the prosecutor in the Liang case recently revealed that he will be recommending leniency in Liang's sentencing - a smidgen of sanity amidst the frenzy to scapegoat someone who killed a man accidentally due to poor training and not hatred for black people as our progressive friends have deluded themselves into believing. Liang's training was so poor and shoddy that he barely received any practical training with handling his weapon

None of these significant facts resonate with our progressive panel - they choose, instead, to simply makes things up, ignore facts, and elevate their uninformed opinions to the status of objective truth. Oblivious to their own failures to utilize reasonable epistemological inquiry, the Asian panel is simply incapable of understanding why the FOBs aren't doing what they want them to do. Laughably, they draw the conclusion that the language barrier is the significant problem and that there needs to be more proselytizing via language-appropriate technology.

Not once do these guys consider that dialogue is a two-way street, a give and take of opinions, ideas, and attitudes. That means not just inundating people with your unsubstantiated opinions that you "re-frame" as truth, nor does it mean sitting around in a podcast, boring everybody with your racist diatribes against people you are almost certainly ignorant of.

There are two main prerequisites to changing other people's point of view: firstly, you have to stop talking and trying to brainwash people with mindless repetition of the tenets of your faith and instead, listen to what they have to say and what concerns them. The arrogance of early 21st-century Asian progressives is matched only by their ignorance - according to them, FOBs are mindless automatons (just like the white racists say they are) who need to be brow-beaten into doing what our authoritarian progressive friends want them to do. I disagree with this attitude - I think FOBs are free of the racial experiences that have scarred many American-born Asians and thus, have none of the conditioning that might influence the behaviour and attitudes of the American born. Perhaps they see things with far more clarity than we do.

Secondly, you need something compelling to say and a compelling way to say it. So far, all I've seen Asian progressives do is deflect attention away from pervasive white racial habits and proclaim Asian racism to be its equal. Not only is this silly, it is not particularly inspiring. Lying to and about people and their beliefs that Asian progressives haven't even bothered to study only helps white racism by changing the subject. This means that not only are Asian progressives contributing to anti-Asian racism, their absurd rantings serve as an obstacle to addressing the very real needs of black America.

In short, if you want to convince people of your ideas, then come up with good, realistic ideas that are based on reasonable inquiry and not on subjective opinions and feelings which you frame as truth. So far, Asian progressivism has failed to either formulate an inspiring philosophy or even properly identify the attitudes of the majority of their own community - but other people are at fault for "not getting" the progressive agenda.

15 comments:

  1. My gut feel is that most of these "progress Asian-Americans" don't actually hangout much with other Asian Americans IRL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They certainly can't be bothered to listen to Asian-Americans, so I wouldn't be surprised.

      Delete
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-h-wu/how-do-asian-americans-ad_b_9650828.html

    Reminded me of this where a conference of Asian Americans just decided that the primary motivation for Asians to seek equality is to become white. We all know they're referring to affirmative action and Peter Liang, and as many of us know one of the biggest forces behind these are first generation immigrants.

    Immigrants know they're not white. They were born in another country. They are very much aware of their outsider status and have relatively few identity crises compared to America born Asians. The Asian restaurants and markets are full of first generation Asians, not second. When Lunar New Year comes up I'm the only second gen at these markets. Like you said the only basis for accusing first generation Asians of being white is in the flawed scope of the black/white dichotomy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good points. Asian progressives simply know very little about the people they are trying to defame - it's pretty sickening.

      Delete
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm_uf2b9FAs

    It's not just FOBs, but most sensible people who aren't delusional Ivory Tower pundits with trickle-down white guilt.

    SJWs dehumanize APIAs in terms of framing the narrative as something that only the white pseudo-liberal establishment can approve of.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is very true - what exactly is the purpose of this Asian progressive rhetoric? It doesn't help Asians, it deflects attention away from pervasive white racism so it doesn't help blacks.

      The only people who benefit from this Asian progressive anti-Asian racism is white racists who get to avoid addressing societal racism by appropriating the idea that Asian racism is the far more serious problem.

      Delete
  4. thank you for articulating a nuanced way of understanding the AA position, and the dynamics within it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tim

      Welcome. Thanks for your comment!

      Delete
  5. thank you for articulating a nuanced way of understanding the AA position, and the dynamics within it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I dare all these "Asian progressives" complaining about alleged "anti-blackness" among Asians, to spend some time in an Arab community and hear what they have to say about blacks.

    Asians aren't anti-black. Historically Asians had very few encounters with Black Africans and any negative stereotypes of Blacks among Asians is 100% guaranteed to have originated from white people.

    Arabs have an over 1,300 year unpleasant relationship with blacks and a lot of them hold very, very nasty views and attitudes towards Black Africans. They view blacks as slaves, unintelligent, and inferior. And these are their own views developed by themselves as they enslaved blacks in the Medieval period- not borrowed from white people at all. They invented their own stereotypes and hatred of blacks. They killed blacks, used them as slaves and treated them as inferiors. They view all non-Arabs as inferior (including European origin westerners, Arabs think western people are immoral and western women are slutty hookers) but hold special animosity towards blacks. Not surprising since Arabs used both blacks and Europeans as slaves (European women as concubines in harems).

    Arab-Americans likewise hold strong negative attitudes towards blacks. They call black people "Abeed" (slaves) in casual conversation with each other, they won't let their daughters marry blacks and a lot of those Arab corner store owners near ghettos hate blacks and beat the crap out of them when they start acting out in their stores.

    You can't guilt trip Arabs or do social justice warrior PC crap with them. They will just laugh at your face and probably yell Abeed even louder. Tell them about anti-blackness and they will jeer at you.

    These progressives will not dare go up to Arabs because the "progressives" are cowards and the Arabs will punch them in the face and tell them to F--- off. They want to bully Asian people because they think Asians are easy to guilt trip.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree that Asian progressives are empowered by the fact that FOB Asians have very little standing in society and are an easy target for their racism.

      And yes, they are not taken seriously in any other issue - which is why they are so vehemently anti-Asian. You can say whatever you want about Asians without backlash.

      Delete
  7. Looks like the Social Justice Warriors at Reappropriate are having a hissy fit over the Peter Liang verdict.

    What's pathetic is how some of the commenters there are predictably indulging in their favored "progressive" propaganda memes to discredit the Liang protests--as they resort to crying about "White Wannabe Sellouts" or how "Asia is Racist"!

    These self-styled Progressives are so arrogant that they have become a self-parody.

    The Progressive modus operandi is this: whenever the "community" that you claim to speak for takes a political action not to your liking--VILIFY THEM!

    Who needs enemies like Donald Trump when you have "friends" like the Progressive Social Justice Jihadist.

    Despite their political "differences," Progressives and Trump do share the same underlying Fundamentalist mindset: MY WAY--or the highway.

    http://reappropriate.co/2016/04/no-pro-liang-protests-were-not-the-largest-or-most-impactful-asian-american-protest-movements-ever/

    http://reappropriate.co/2016/04/breaking-peter-liang-will-not-serve-a-day-in-jail-for-killing-akai-gurley/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous

      I would question the idea that progressives are fundamentalists - that would require a belief system with fundamentals that are referred back to time and again.

      Progressives seem to have no such fundamentals driving their actions - if anything they are merely reactionary and without any kind of fundamental beliefs that anchor their reactivism. They seem to go with the flo and react in accordance to whoever is shouting the loudest.

      Think of Suey Park and her twitter onslaught against Colbert. At first Asian progressives piled on and backed her until she was humiliated on the Huffington post live show and then even her close collaborators back-flipped and distanced themselves from her. That's how solid the fundamentals of Asian progressivism are.

      Delete
  8. A lot of ABC/CBC asians grow up trying their best to disassociate themselves away from FOBs and many practice FOB bashing -- I heard enough from idiotic CBCs who assumed I thought like them (I'm a gen 1.5). It looks like some of them still carry old attitudes. Honestly, I think it is the asian SJWs that are still subordinating to whites (ie white SJWs). If the white SJWs (for whatever reason) stop being so demonstrative in their support for blacks, I'm sure the asian variety would follow like wise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with that assessment. As I stated in my previous comment above, there is no theory, philosophy, or fundamentals of Asian progressivism -it seems to be all about following and reacting in accordance with who shouts the loudest.

      Delete