By Assemblyman Ron Kim
The current blend of racism and hate that has become a part of American political discourse can be traced back to before Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president—all the way to when he demanded President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, claiming that he was not born in the United States and thus constitutionally disqualified. This brand of bigotry grew when Trump announced his candidacy and in the same breath said Mexican immigrants were drug dealers, criminals and rapists. It metastasized through his many hate-filled diatribes, his belief that a federal judge was unqualified and incapable of impartiality because of his ethnicity, and his inhuman attacks against Khizr and Ghazala Khan, parents of a Muslim-American soldier who gave his life protecting fellow troops.
Simply put, for people like Trump and unfortunately many of his supporters, if you are not like them—that is to say white and Christian—you are not American. Even if you are president of the United States, a federal judge or a slain U.S. soldier, you are still not American enough.
So when this hateful and divisive tone has become a regular part of American political discourse, no one should be surprised to see Fox News broadcast some of the worst racist stereotypes targeting Asians, and specifically Chinese-Americans, on the “O’Reilly Factor.”
Nor should we be surprised that Jesse Watters, the “journalist” who led the ignorant reporting against Asians, issued a non-apologetic statement implying it was the fault of others for being unsophisticated enough to appreciate his racist humor.
Donald Trump’s candidacy has disturbingly legitimized this kind of bigotry—once hidden, festering for generations just beneath the surface. Now it is in plain view, on air, and a part of mainstream conversation in the unhealthiest way possible. Put simply, this brand of hatred and racism is now politically acceptable for millions of Americans.
Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump and many of his supporters see people like me as “un-American.” Never mind that millions of us were born, raised, educated, work and vote here. To them, we are the Perpetual Foreigner simply because of our race. To them, we will never belong because of our faces and the color of our skin.
O’Reilly, Watters, and Fox News, like other media organizations, had an opportunity and a responsibility to counter this trend of bigotry. They had the ability to use their platform to take a stand. Instead, they chose to reinforce the ignorance and xenophobia that has penetrated our national discourse.
The only thing un-American is the hateful, racist rhetoric of Donald Trump, and the sanctioning by far too many of his brand of hate.
Assemblyman Ron Kim