Andrew Yang's Appeal in The Alt-Right and The Model Minority Myth

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"White supremacist Richard Spencer refers to Yang as “pro-white” and continues to be full of praise for him ..."

WeAreYourVoice - October 15, 2019

"Yang’s appeal to white supremacist concerns seems to be working because he has a surprising amount of support from them despite being Asian. Far-right outfit Breitbart writes glowingly of him, and there are reports that Trump’s voters see him as the only Democratic candidate they would vote for. The editor of The Blaze, a notoriously conservative publication considers him the only Democrat who can beat Trump. White supremacist Richard Spencer refers to Yang as “pro-white” and continues to be full of praise for him going so far as to say that “everyone should take this man and his ideas seriously.” It is disturbing to see publications with racist, conservative leanings come close to endorsing him and for him to get adulatory recommendations from outright neo-Nazis."

... there are certain things about Andrew Yang that should give us pause. For one, Yang’s record on race raises some startling questions. 

Yang often employs the model minority myth. He refers to himself as the Asian guy who is good at math. This seems funny on the outset but is incredibly harmful in many ways. The trope erases other Asians, especially Southeast Asians and refugees who do not have access to resources and opportunities more available to East Asians. It is also used to deny racism against Black people‚ (look if the Asians can do it, why can’t you!) who are compared disfavorably to Asians. The model-minority myth is, at its essence, anti-Black, and therefore, essential to propping up white supremacy. Yang also uses it to justify the need for immigration, which is in itself unsettling because it seems to imply that immigrants need to be exceptional in order to be considered valuable enough to emigrate to the U.S. He later defended the use of the model minority myth to Asian American activists, saying that he didn’t believe his “jokes about Asians and math and doctors were harming anyone.”

At a time where many Chinese Americans are moving further towards the right, are displaying more conservative ideals and are at the forefront of trying to destroy affirmative action, Yang’s lack of response to pressing issues around race while playing into the model minority myth is actually feeding white supremacy in a country that does not need any more of it, and worse, from a minority candidate. 

Yang seems to consistently employ anti-Black rhetoric in other ways. In a recent reaction to Shane Gillis’ anti-Chinese comments, he tweeted that “…anti-Asian racism is…more acceptable” and compared the lack of reaction over it to what he deemed as more outrage over the use of the “n” word. The use of Black people’s pain as a tool of comparison is textbook anti-Blackness. The implication that the world cares more about Black people than Asians does not hold up in reality. It is an unnecessary comparison and a false one at that. Asian Americans have piggy-backed onto civil rights movements by Black Americans in order to push their own concerns to the forefront, and to suddenly point to a supposed hyper-visibility of anti-Black racism is disingenuous.  Furthermore, right after he called out this racism, he turned around and decried the firing of Gillis and referred to the event as an example of cancel culture. He even has plans to have a “conversation” with Gillis, something Yang has used to cast himself as someone who can reach out across the aisle. 

Yang is clearly playing both sides. With Asians, he talks about his struggle with his racial identity but in front of white crowds, he plays the model minority who never goes far enough to actually anger white people, which is why he did not think a virulent racist should lose his job. His middle of the road approach to racism appeals to white liberals and right-wing conservatives who dislike the consequences of racism. 

Furthermore, some of the things he says are straight out of the white supremacist cookbook. In one tweet, Yang talks about the mental health and death rates of white men and how deaths outnumber births amongst white people. This is a dog whistle for white supremacists because it is often used in reference to what is known as the “white replacement theory,” which holds that white people in the West are being dislodged by Black and brown immigrants. Part of this “replacement” comes in the form of fewer births of white people and all of this is a precursor to the ideology of the “white genocide.” This is part of the larger fear amongst white people that the white majority will disappear

White replacement theory has been linked to the rise of alt-right violence. It is used by white supremacists to fan fears amongst white populations, fears which ultimately led to the election of Trump. Yang’s tweets about the death rates of white people, unfortunately, play into that existing discourse. By specifically talking about how white men are dying from suicide, he is propping up the idea that white men are special and in need of special help. This is all the more disturbing when you consider that Asian-American college students are more likely than any other race to attempt suicide, and one of the reasons is because of the pressures put on them by the model-minority myth. The urgency with which he refers to the issue of the falling white population appeals to white supremacists who themselves use the same rhetoric to push people into supporting white supremacist causes. ...
Read full report at WeAreYourVoice

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