Thirty-five groups representing Asian-Americans across the United States are calling on the two largest political parties to reject racist campaign rhetoric following a recent political ad by West Virginia Senate candidate Don Blankenship that many say is offensive.
Blankenship, the former Chairman and CEO of Massey Energy, is facing five other candidates in the Republican primary in West Virginia on Tuesday, but he chose to attack Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
The ad refers to McConnell as getting money from his “China family” and getting jobs for “China people.”
Chao is Chinese-American.
Watch the ad here:
What in the world did I just watch pic.twitter.com/4eudpGAxp0
— Liam Donovan (@LPDonovan) May 3, 2018
In response, the organization Asian Americans Advancing Justice called the ad blatantly racist.
“Asian Americans Advancing Justice is outraged and exasperated that once again, as midterm elections start to heat up, a candidate for elected office believes that saying blatant racist statements is appropriate. This most recent ad is yet another example in a long line of political advertising used to incite animosity or race-based fear of Asian Americans and other communities of color,” the group said in a statement.
“It is clear this ad uses the myth of Asians being perpetual foreigners as a way to raise fear and concern. This is the same kind of tactic that led to shameful moments in U.S. history such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Americans have had enough of this stereotyping and fear-mongering. We reject these racist remarks. America and Americans are better than this.”
The letter to the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee from Asian-American groups urged candidates on both sides of the aisle to avoid xenophobic rhetoric.
“It’s campaign season again and disappointingly we find ourselves responding to more racism and xenophobia in political ads. This has to stop,” said Gregg Orton, director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans.
“The truth is that when racist or xenophobic language is used by any political party, it is painfully personal for that community, and in context to the AAPI community, reinforces the damaging narrative that we are ‘outsiders’ to the civic engagement process.”
Read the letter here:
John Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice told CGTN his organization is prepared for an increase in racial discrimination against Asian-Americans given the increased tensions between the U.S. and China over trade.
“Unfortunately, when there are trade tensions or any type of economic competition between countries, and this isn’t specific to Asia or China, but generally that causes similar tensions with respect to race and ethnicity,” he said.
“If you characterize an entire race as being somehow suspicious or that all Chinese-American scientists should be surveilled or should be treated with suspicion, that goes too far.”
Despite the hard sell, Blankenship was dealt a blow this morning when President Donald Trump tweeted that West Virginia voters should avoid Blankenship at the polls.
To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference. Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State…No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018