Wall Street Journal: The Real Asian-American Race Issue

William McGurn
WSJ Opinion
October 10, 2022

“In a key California House race, the Republican and Democratic candidates have each accused the other of anti-Asian racism. That may not be surprising in a district where the Los Angeles Times says Asian-Americans enjoy a slight plurality (37%). What is surprising is that the candidates accusing each other are Asian-Americans.

“The Republican is Michelle Steel, who was born in South Korea after her parents fled communist North Korea and spent part of her childhood in Japan. Her campaign accused her Democratic opponent, Jay Chen, of racism after he appeared to poke fun at her accent during a campaign stop in April. (English is her third language, after Korean and Japanese.) 

“But Mr. Chen counterattacked, after Ms. Steel criticized him for trying to bring the Confucian Classroom to the Hacienda La Puente schools, where Mr. Chen served on the board. The Confucian Classroom is a Chinese government-funded program that then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in October 2020 called “a real and increasing threat to U.S. classrooms.” 

“… But so far there’s been almost no coverage of another issue of particular concern for Asian Americans—officially sanctioned racial discrimination against Asian-American college applicants.

“Enter Ying Ma and the new Equal Rights for America PAC. Though not specifically an Asian-American political-action committee, its leadership includes Asian-Americans veterans from the successful NO on 16 campaign in 2020 in California—which beat back an effort to repeal language in the state constitution prohibiting race preferences.

“We picked Michelle Steel for our first endorsement because she is a firm opponent of race discrimination and her opponent is not—even though he is Asian-American himself,” Ms. Ma says. “We expect Michelle’s victory to be very clarifying on this issue.”…

“… On Friday the PAC ran its first ad, with a knock on Mr. Chen. It features Ms. Ma saying, “I came to America from Communist China for freedom. So I was stunned to see a candidate for Congress support racial discrimination against Asian college applicants.”

The ad contrasts Mr. Chen’s position supporting race preferences in college admissions with Ms. Steel’s opposition…

“…Ms. Steel has spoken out against Harvard, and she and Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) led 80 colleagues to file a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the plaintiffs in these suits.

Students for Fair Admissions. In 2016, by contrast, Mr. Chen appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, where as both an Asian-American and Harvard alumnus he defended the university’s use of race. All through the interview, Mr. Chen avoided answering Mr. Carlson’s direct question about whether Harvard’s race discrimination against Asian-Americans is wrong.”

Read the rest here.

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