Elaine Chao’s White House Resignation Falls Short – Despite Her Background As An Asian-American Immigrant, Activists Say She Leaves A Legacy Of Complicity With Anti-Immigrant, Racist Policies As A Loyal Trump Official

Some Asian American community leaders say Elaine Chao’s resignation as transportation secretary after the riot at the U.S. Capitol is inadequate after years of harm to marginalized groups and the immigrant community — of which she is a part.

Chao, who officially left her role Monday, is one of the few Asian American immigrants to have ascended to such heights in government. But activists say she leaves behind a legacy of complicity with anti-immigrant, racist policies as a loyal Trump administration official.

Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the social services nonprofit Asian American Federation, said that at this point, regardless of her exit, “damage has been done” to her reputation and credibility.

“Elaine Chao was complicit in creating a politics of toxicity and cynicism. Her decision can only be seen in that context,” Yoo said. “Her dissent was needed when Trump degraded, ostracized and isolated the Asian American community with his Covid-19 misinformation and outright racism or in any of the instances when Trump sought to hurt immigrants like herself.”

Chao, who said in her resignation statement that the violence at the Capitol last week had “deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside,” previously made history as the first Asian American woman to hold a Cabinet position. She hasn’t been afraid of opening up about her immigrant roots and her difficult early years in America. Chao, 67, came to the U.S. from Taiwan when she was 8 years old, speaking no English.

“I think you will understand when I say that our initial years in America were very challenging,” Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the newly naturalized citizens. “We didn’t speak English, had no family or friends here, couldn’t get used to the food nor understand the customs here.”

Her rise from her immigrant roots has made her a role model for some Asian American families. In an interview with CNN in 2017, Chao said that those from the community would show up anywhere, from public events to the airport, to greet her and that she would feel an “instant bond.” Activists say her actions have proven anything but supportive to immigrant communities.

Chao came under fire several times during Trump’s tenure for staying silent as he tried to institute hard-line immigration policies. In 2017, several Asian American organizations called on Chao to oppose Trump’s termination of the Temporary Protected Status programs for several countries, including Sudan, Nicaragua and Haiti. Temporary Protected Status is typically given to countries where conditions prevent nationals from returning.

They also demanded that she speak out against Trump’s attempts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that year.

While the majority of so-called Dreamers hail from Latin America, about 16,000 undocumented Asian youths are protected under the act. And Asian Americans are the fastest-growing demographic of undocumented immigrants, their population tripling from 2000 to 2015. Chao, however, was mum about the subject.

She also remained silent about Trump’s public charge rule, which denies immigrants residency if they are deemed likely to need public assistance, among other controversial policies. More than 941,000 recent green card holders would have fallen under the rule had it been in effect when they applied, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit policy organization. Of those, 300,000 are from Asian countries.

But Chao possibly drew the most criticism for migrant family separation. While she did not comment on her stance, she did fire back at protesters at Georgetown University who confronted her and McConnell about the policy in 2018 and asked, “Why are you separating families?”

Chao shouted back, “Leave my husband alone,” winning praise among conservatives.

“She effectively colluded with the Trump administration in increasing the separation of our families and rescinding of the DACA program, denying access to public benefits and much more,” said Becky Belcore, executive director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, an advocacy organization that was among the groups that previously called on Chao to speak out against the immigration crackdowns.

“Chao was in a position of power that she could have leveraged to support the most marginalized members of our community,” Belcore said. “Instead, she was often seen standing next to Trump as he signed anti-immigrant policies into law.”

Advocates also said that in a particularly damning moment, Chao, a woman of color, stood by Trump at a news conference at Trump Tower in New York City as he neglected to call out hate groups and claimed that there were “very fine people on both sides” after white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

While her husband, McConnell, had been feuding with Trump at the time, Chao told reporters at the news conference that she stood “by my man — both of them.” While it’s unclear whether Chao actively supported Trump or was required to do so in the moment as a Cabinet member, John C. Yang, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, said he believes her inaction had consequences.

“President Trump’s statement following the events in Charlottesville were reprehensible,” Yang said. “It is clear that his remarks were building to the insurrection we saw on Wednesday, and the failure of those around him to call out his behavior emboldened him. It is irresponsible and unconscionable for a sitting president of the United States to not only condone but to incite the behavior of people who are only concerned with holding on to white supremacist power.”

Belcore said she felt that Chao, who also served in a Cabinet position as labor secretary under former President George W. Bush, did not sufficiently protect vulnerable workers, including immigrants. But Yang said he felt that Trump’s “racism and xenophobia is toxic and dangerous, at a level not seen in recent presidencies,” taking more precedence compared to the Bush administration. He said that while immigrants and people of color were “under constant attack in dangerous ways” during Trump’s tenure, Chao was in a position in which she could have stood up more for marginalized people. He said it was “disappointing that she did not do so publicly.”

Yang acknowledged that Chao’s ascendance to a Cabinet position as an Asian American, a member of a community that continues to struggle with representation in the political sphere, was an accomplishment, but he said that doesn’t mean her conduct represented the community well. He said, moreover, that as Chao painted herself as a hard-working immigrant while supporting the administration’s anti-immigrant policies, she fed into the “good immigrant versus bad immigrant” myth.

Source: NBC News

Minnesota Town (Murdock) Approves Permit For White-Only Church, Says It’s Not Racist

When the church doors open, only white people will be allowed inside.

That’s the message the Asatru Folk Assembly in Murdock, Minnesota, is sending after being granted a conditional use permit to open a church there and practice its pre-Christian religion that originated in northern Europe.

Despite a council vote officially approving the permit this month, residents are pushing back against the decision.

Opponents have collected about 50,000 signatures on an online petition to stop the all-white church from making its home in the farming town of 280 people.

“I think they thought they could fly under the radar in a small town like this, but we’d like to keep the pressure on them,” said Peter Kennedy, a longtime Murdock resident. “Racism is not welcome here.”

Many locals said they support the growing population of Latinos, who have moved to the area in the past decade because of job opportunities, over the church.

“Just because the council gave them a conditional permit does not mean that the town and people in the area surrounding will not be vigilant in watching and protecting our area,” Jean Lesteberg, who lives in the neighboring town of De Graff, wrote on the city’s Facebook page.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Asatru Folk Assembly as a “neo-Volkisch hate group” that couches “their bigotry in baseless claims of bloodlines grounding the superiority of one’s white identity.”

Many residents call them a white supremacist or white separatist group, but church members deny it.

“We’re not. It’s just simply not true,” said Allen Turnage, a folk assembly board member. “Just because we respect our own culture, that doesn’t mean we are denigrating someone else’s.”

The group, based in Brownsville, California, says teachings and membership are for those of strictly European bloodlines.

The church was looking for a new church in the eastern North Dakota region when they came across Murdock. It’s unknown how many members they have worldwide or how many people will attend the new church.

“We do not need salvation. All we need is freedom to face our destiny with courage and honor,” the group wrote on its website about their beliefs. “We honor the Gods under the names given to them by our Germanic/Norse ancestors.”

Their forefathers, according to the website, were “Angels and Saxons, Lombards and Heruli, Goths and Vikings, and, as sons and daughters of these people, they are united by ties of blood and culture undimmed by centuries.”

“We respect the ways our ancestors viewed the world and approached the universe a thousand years ago,” Turnage said.

Murdock council members said they do not support the church but were legally obligated to approve the permit, which they did in a 3-1 decision.

“We were highly advised by our attorney to pass this permit for legal reasons to protect the First Amendment rights,” Mayor Craig Kavanagh said. “We knew that if this was going to be denied, we were going to have a legal battle on our hands that could be pretty expensive.”

City Attorney Don Wilcox said it came down to free speech and freedom of religion.

“I think there’s a great deal of sentiment in the town that they don’t want that group there,” he said. “You can’t just bar people from practicing whatever religion they want or saying anything they want as long as it doesn’t incite violence.”

The farming town about a 115-mile drive west of Minneapolis is known for producing corn and soybeans, which are shipped across the country. Latinos make up about 20 percent of Murdock’s small population. Many are day laborers from Mexico and Central America, city officials said.

“We’re a welcoming community,” Kennedy said, rejecting the Asatru Folk Assembly’s exclusionary beliefs. “That’s not at all what the people of Murdock feel. Nobody had a problem with the Hispanics here.”

The AFA purchased its building this year on property in a residential zone. Constructed as a Lutheran church before the zoning was changed, it was later converted to a private residence. The folk assembly needed the permit to convert the residence back to a church.

“It’s ironic the city council didn’t want to commit discrimination against the church, but the church is discriminating against Blacks,” said Abigail Suiter, 33, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “It’s very telling of where the priority is and whose lives matter.”

Prominent lawyers disagree on the council’s options heading into the vote. Some of the debate centered on the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which protects religious institutions and churches from unduly burdens and discriminatory land-use regulations.

Laurence H. Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, said the council might have been able to prevent the private sale of the property, had it known about it, through laws focused on forbidding racial discrimination in property transactions.

“No institution that proposes to exclude people on account of race is allowed to run an operation in the state of Minnesota,” Tribe said.

Kavanagh said he stands by the council vote “for legal reasons only.”

“The biggest thing people don’t understand is, because we’ve approved this permit, all of a sudden everyone feels this town is racist, and that isn’t the case,” he said. “Just because we voted yes doesn’t mean we’re racist.”

Source: NBC News

Philadelphia City Council Takes Steps To Formally Apologize For Deadly 1985 Bombing Of A Black Neighborhood

Philadelphia City Council voted Thursday to apologize for the MOVE bombing 35 years ago that left 11 people dead, including five children, and burned 61 homes in West Philadelphia.

The resolution, approved almost unanimously (Councilmember Brian O’Neill said he opposed it), represents the first formal apology offered by the city for the May 13, 1985, bombing. It also establishes the anniversary of the bombing as “an annual day of observation, reflection and recommitment.”

Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, whose West Philadelphia district includes the neighborhood destroyed by the bombing, sponsored the resolution. She introduced it days after the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. less than a mile away from the site of the bombing. She linked the two events in a speech to City Council last month.

“We can draw a straight line from the unresolved pain and trauma of that day to Walter Wallace Jr.’s killing earlier this week in the very same neighborhood,” Gauthier said. “Because what’s lying under the surface here is a lack of recognition of the humanity of Black people from law enforcement.”

In 1985, police dropped an explosive device on the roof of 6221 Osage Ave. after a daylong confrontation with the Black radical and naturalist group MOVE, as officers attempted to evict them from their compound. The majority of the victims were Black.

W. Wilson Goode Sr., who was mayor at the time, called on the city to issue a formal apology in an op-ed published by The Guardian before the 35th anniversary. “The event will remain on my conscience for the rest of my life,” he wrote.

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

Mississippi Approves New Flag Design – Had Been The Last State In The Country To Feature An Image Of The Confederate Battle Flag

The new design, which includes a magnolia blossom, was selected by a state commission in September to be put on the November ballot. The final decision came down to the magnolia image and the “Great River Flag,” which featured a shield with white and red stripes and a symbol representing the Mississippi River.

The flag featuring Confederate imagery was officially retired in June after protests against racial injustice and police brutality led numerous states to reckon with the history behind such symbols.

“Our flag should reflect the beauty and good in all of us. It should represent a state that deserves a positive image,” Rocky Vaughan, designer of the magnolia flag, said in a statement in September.

“The New Magnolia Flag represents the warmth and strength of the good people of Mississippi. Now is the time we show the world that we’re from Mississippi, the Magnolia State,” he added.

Source: The Hill

Delaware Politician Lauren Witzke Has Meltdown Over ‘Third World’ Refugees and Muslims After Losing Election, Attacks Author Viet Thanh Nguyen Who Doesn’t Play Grateful Refugee Card

Twitter tirade: The former GOP senatorial candidate took to Twitter to attack author Viet Thanh Nguyen after her loss to Democratic Senator Chris Coons during the Senate election in Delaware on Tuesday.

  • Witzke began her attack after Nguyen tagged her in a tweet showing Coons receiving a total vote count of 290,996 (59.5%), while the Republican candidate received 185,442 (37.9%).
  • Nguyen also added a link to Witzke’s previous tweet where she urged for Western Europe to begin the mass deportation of Muslims in the region.
  • “It would be a shame if President Trump revoked your refugee status and sent you back to the third world where you belong,” Witzke said in her response to Nguyen.
  • Witzke assumed Nguyen was not a legal voter in her follow-up response, and doubled down on her remarks, calling him an “ungrateful refugee.”
  • The former GOP candidate then included the Democratic Party into their conversation and accused them of voter fraud.
  • “I don’t play the grateful refugee,” Nguyen said in his post. “That’s just a way of being silenced and being patted on the head. We can be grateful for the opportunities we’ve gotten in this country while recognizing its racist and white supremacist origins and reality.”
  • “This racism sometimes benefits those of us who are Vietnamese or Asian or refugees or immigrants, and this racism sometimes targets us. That’s how racism works. It makes you afraid to be the target so you shut up and hope you just reap some of the benefits. That’s what people like Lauren Witzke want. Compliant minorities who know their place.”
  • Witzke later blocked Nguyen on Twitter on Thursday night.

Source: NextShark

CNN Reporter Amara Walker Endures Three Anti-Asian Racist Encounters Within An Hour At Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

Throughout the U.S. presidential campaign, Donald Trump has been deflecting criticism of his handling of COVID-19 by blaming China.

But the relentless linking of the pandemic to China has had negative consequences for Asian Americans, including CNN correspondent Amara Walker.

She recently described experiencing three anti-Asian racist incidents within an hour while traveling through Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

Following these events, Walker described what happened in a lengthy Twitter thread.

Amara Walker was trying to catch a flight back home when “a man of color” suddenly approached her and said, “Ni Hao. Ching Chong,” according to her Twitter and Instagram posts last Thursday.

The journalist confronted the man about his actions earlier, but he denied the incident and walked away.

Minutes after her first encounter, while Walker was explaining to her producer what happened, a young man without a mask approached them and asked her if she spoke English.

The unnamed man mumbled incoherently and allegedly started throwing obscenities at Walker. At this point, her producer and the other people nearby demanded the man to leave her alone.

Walker’s producer called airport security, but the officer who arrived angrily denied that what the young man did was racist.

“That was not racist! Ok? Asking if she speaks English is not racist, ok? Do you understand me?” the officer allegedly said.

“Asian Americans across the country deal with this on a regular basis and we’re not talking about it,” she said. “Many Asian Americans don’t raise our voices, including myself. I’ve probably wouldn’t have written about this if this wasn’t so egregious.”

Source: NextShark, Straight

Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans Are at an ‘Alarming Level’, UN Says

Experts from the United Nations (UN) formally expressed concerns about the growing number of attacks against Asian Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the alleged lack of measures from authorities to combat them.

The experts, appointed by the Human Rights Council (HRC), serve as rapporteurs on (1) contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; (2) human rights of migrants; and (3) discrimination against women and girls.

“Racially motivated violence and other incidents against Asian-Americans have reached an alarming level across the United States since the outbreak of COVID19,” experts continued.

These included vandalism, verbal harassment, physical attacks, and refusal of service and access.

Verbal harassment comprised the majority of the incidents. Victims reportedly heard profanities such as “f**ing Chinese,” “die ch*nk die,” “yellow n*****” and “go back to China, b**ch!”

The group also cited the alleged link between President Donald Trump’s anti-China rhetoric and the surge in hate incidents. They noted that his actions have been “seemingly legitimizing” the phenomenon.

Trump has used controversial terms to refer to COVID-19, including “Chinese Virus,” “China Virus,” “China Plague,” “Wuhan Virus,” “Kung Flu.” The World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the UN, has long opposed the use of such terms.

“Don’t attach locations or ethnicity to the disease, this is not a ‘Wuhan Virus,’ ‘Chinese Virus’ or ‘Asian Virus.’ The official name for the disease [COVID-19] was deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatization,” the agency said in March.

Congress has since introduced bills (House of RepresentativesSenate) condemning all forms of anti-Asian sentiment. The House passed its version by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) last month, which led to attacks against the official herself.

President Donald Trump’s Lawyer and Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani Accidentally Uploads Video of Himself Mocking Asian Accents

Rudy Giuliani accidentally uploaded a video of himself to YouTube on Wednesday night, in which President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer is seen to mock Asians in a racist manner.

The former mayor of New York City and President Donald Trump’s current personal lawyer put on a stereotypical Asian accent while bowing with his hands clasped together and talking about ordering Chinese food in the video.

An extended version of the video was set to private but not before clips made rounds on social media.

Source: NextShark

US Marine Jarrett Morford of Windsor Colorado Investigated After Making Racist Threats to Shoot Chinese People

A Marine who posted a video online in which he uses slurs against Chinese people and threatens to shoot them when he deploys with the fleet is now under investigation, the Marine Corps said Thursday.

Capt. Joseph Butterfield, a Marine Corps spokesman, identified the Marine in the video as Pfc. Jarrett Morford, 20, and said Morford’s command is taking “appropriate action.”

Morford, who is from Windsor, Colo., is now training for a communications job at Twentynine Palms, Calif. He graduated boot camp in August.

“There is no place for racism in the Marine Corps. Those who can’t value the contributions of others, regardless of background, are destructive to our culture and do not represent our core values,” Butterfield said.

“As the honorable Trump said today on Twitter, it was China’s fault,” Morford said in the video. “China is going to pay for what they have done to this country and the world.”

It was not clear Thursday which tweet Morford was referencing. President Donald Trump frequently tweets about China, blaming them for the coronavirus pandemic, which he has called “the China virus.”

It was also unclear Thursday when or where the video originally was posted. But it went viral Thursday on Twitter and Instagram.

The video also included profanity and referenced the caliber of bullet used for the M4 and the M16, the standard rifles issued to Marines.

“I don’t give a f*ck! A chink-headed motherf*cker comes up to me when I’m in the fleet, say 5-5-6 b*tch. That’s all I gotta say,” Morford said. “Say 5-5-f*cking-6!”

Source: Stars And Stripes