The recent war of words between China and the U.S.
in the spy plane incident has raised tensions in the
Asian American community.
In addition, the Bush administration
has taken a hard line toward North Korea
and Vietnam, old communist enemies.
The "active" Bush policy toward Asia comes at
a time when many Americans still hold negative
perceptions of Asian Americans.
A national survey by the well-known research firm Yankelovich Partners
found that about one-quarter of Americans would not approve
of intermarriage with an Asian, and nearly a third
felt that Chinese Americans were more loyal to China than to
the United States.
The news comes as a wakeup call to the community including
the growing number of Asian Hapas. The perception that
Asians do not suffer discrimination has never looked so
With the U.S. economy in a sputter, one wonders if Bush's
aggressive moves toward Asia will not increase if only
to divert attention from the nation's real problems.
Without the threat of the Soviet bear, U.S. policy-makers
have struggled to find an "enemy" to focus the billions
of dollars alloted to national defense and intelligence
For some time now there has been talk of a "shift" in focus
from the threat of communism to that posed by what should
probably be called the "Oriental" threat.
Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and other religious ideologies now are
seen as more dangerous than Marxism or Maoism according to
The economic realities of the trade deficit and of Asian immigration
help fuel the xenophobia even more.
Of course, the Asian problem is just one facet of a continuing
problem in U.S. race relations. The recent Cincinnati riots
demonstrated yet again that in many American communities
there are simmering tensions that can explode at any time.
The problem of racial profiling just won't seem to go away.
Asian Americans got a major taste of it during the Wen Ho
Lee case. Yet, most Asians really don't know the worst of it.
Rarely will they be pulled over simply for driving an expensive
But Asians have a special place in American race history. That of
the "yellow peril." Nothing quite conjures up such a vision of
imminent invasion. Of seductive temptresses and cunning leaders
with sparse beards.
Yes, it is deja vu for the old-timers. For those who were shipped
off to relocation camps and for the few left who remember when
it was illegal for Asians to intermarry or for Asian immigrants
to own land.
Maybe it is time to live up to the image of the yellow peril.
At least to those who focus their malicious energies toward the
Asian community. Let them know that if they want to mess around they
are facing a machine every bit as nefarious as the yellow emperor's