Op-Ed :Asian Americans, Speak for Yourselves

I am an Asian American by virtue of being Asian and being born and raised in America. I make this clarification because in certain circles, this identity is not as neutral as it may sound. No, some would have you believe that existing as an Asian American is inherently political — and only a certain type of ultra-progressive political at that.

In today’s climate, that rhetoric probably doesn’t sound too unrealistic, but here’s the latest evidence: “An Open Letter to the Asian American Community,” written by members of some Asian affinity groups at Harvard to condemn other Asian affinity groups for not co-sponsoring a walkout in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

This letter expressed more general grievances than just the DACA walkout, though. It is the latest attempt by supposedly enlightened Asian Americans to dictate to other Asian Americans what they should think, say, and do.

At the very least these writers are acknowledging the fact, not acknowledged enough, that cultural groups are not monoliths. But if you expect them to bring this up to celebrate the diversity in Asian America, you’d be wrong. No, they’re lamenting the actual diversity. They wish that Asian Americans could form a monolith in their image of an inherently political community with an extremely left-wing agenda.

Forgive me for wanting a way out.

The movement’s big gotcha argument is that the political origins of the term “Asian American” necessitate an extremely left-wing advocacy and ideology. But I think you can acknowledge the term’s history and agree with many of the causes originally championed without jumping to the same conclusion. I, for example, am just using “Asian American” because it literally describes me. If there were a logical alternative, I would almost happily use it to shut down this line of argument — but, of course, I would find being pushed out of using “Asian American” completely ridiculous. Nevertheless, the underlying problem here isn’t the label; it’s the broader argument about the intersection of politics and culture.

The letter declares, “An apolitical cultural community is a pernicious lie.” I’m not even a member of any cultural community at Harvard, but I will stand up for the right of hypothetical cultural communities to exist without needing to wade into other matters. One could call it naïve to try to create such a social community. But that’s the problem with too many tribes today, on all sides of the spectrum. They don’t even try.

Sure, I can see why such a community might not be appealing to everyone. But at least let other people make that choice for themselves. I still believe — and in a time as divided as this, I feel I must believe, to have hope about a way out — that trying to create a social community that can overcome political differences is not a futile or unworthy ideal.

The letter also tries to assure other Asian Americans, “We are not asking you to become the ‘wokest’ in the room or for you to unconditionally defend every leftist agenda.” Yet without accepting the ideology of “the woke,” you will not be able to comprehend the letter. Consider this sentence: “It is literally impossible to live as a person of color on the stolen land that is the United States without either being political or being politically instrumentalized by oppressive structures.”

Phrases like “politically instrumentalized by oppressive structures” make no sense to people outside the wokest circles. By the way, don’t let the claims fool you — they’re not facts, they’re ideologies.

It’s one thing to try to make people more politically aware. That’s the admirable and necessary work that the student-run Harvard Votes Challenge is doing, for example, by registering people to vote no matter their political affiliation. But from their language, these Asian American proselytizers who claim to want to bring about my political awakening wouldn’t be happy if I were awakened to a different ideology. There’s only one correct epiphany — that of these enlightened Asian Americans who learned to cast off the chains of the oppressors and overcome the brainwashing to which our white-loving forebears so easily succumbed.

The wokest groups claim to make the safest spaces. I don’t doubt it, but I wonder at what price that safety comes. These groups become “safe” by artificially excluding other viewpoints, and sometimes whole topics of debate, from “acceptable” discourse — viewpoints and topics that are certainly discussed and embraced elsewhere. And these groups can talk a big game about being inclusive, but get on their bad side and then talk is cheap.

Here’s the fundamental disconnect. You’d think in this new world, with more attention rightfully given to diversity and inclusivity, we’d all be emphasizing our individuality and celebrating our differences. So why are groupthink and the desire for a monolithic community so desirable? College is the time to figure ourselves out, but why are so many people convinced they’ve already got it all figured out?

They might say the answers are obvious and that the mere fact of one’s existence as something ostensibly neutral as an “Asian American” is so political it necessitates that one thinks, says, and does certain things.

Don’t believe it. The answers aren’t obvious. There isn’t just one way to be anything. To use the language of the woke nowadays, reclaim your identity. It is, after all, yours.




More Than 500 Legal Scholars Say Trump Committed Impeachable Acts

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Their open letter comes as House Democrats are drawing up articles of impeachment for a full floor vote.

A group of more than 500 legal scholars has signed an open letter to Congress declaring that President Donald Trump “engaged in impeachable conduct” as the impeachment proceedings against him continue.

“We do not reach this conclusion lightly,” stated the letter, dated Friday.

Trump “betrayed his oath of office” by attempting to pressure Ukrainian leaders to help him “distort” the 2020 election “at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress.”

“The Founders did not make impeachment available for disagreements over policy, even profound ones, nor for extreme distaste for the manner in which the President executes his office. Only ‘Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ warrant impeachment,” the scholars asserted.

The signees include professors and other experts from an array of academic institutions such as Columbia, Berkeley, Harvard, Yale, George Washington University and the University of Michigan, among many others. Their message was spearheaded by the Protect Democracy Project, a nonprofit created in 2017 with the goal of holding the White House “accountable to the laws and longstanding practices that have protected our democracy through both Democratic and Republican Administrations.” 

Since the impeachment inquiry began in late September, House investigators have heard from a number of witnesses both in private and in public who have painted a fuller picture of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

According to sworn testimony from U.S. foreign policy officials, Trump threatened to withhold millions of dollars in military aid in exchange for investigations that would help his reelection campaign, and conditioned a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president on a public announcement of those investigations.

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On Tuesday, a panel of four constitutional law experts took questions from the House Judiciary Committee over whether the president’s alleged offenses were serious enough to warrant articles of impeachment ― or a formal description of impeachable misconduct. Three of the four experts said Trump’s behavior was clearly impeachable, while a fourth dissenting in part because he believed more testimony was needed.

In their letter, the legal experts said Trump’s “conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution.”

They also noted that “conduct need not be criminal to be impeachable.”

“Whether President Trump’s conduct is classified as bribery, as a high crime or misdemeanor, or as both, it is clearly impeachable under our Constitution,” the signees concurred.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday asked that articles of impeachment against Trump be prepared, saying the president’s actions have left “us no choice” 

If the articles are passed in the Democratic-controlled House, the process moves to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is not likely to result in Trump’s removal from office.




Romney Breaks With GOP Colleagues: ‘No Evidence’ Of Ukrainian Meddling

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The Utah senator dismissed conspiracy theories that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, calling out Russia as the culprit.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) distanced himself from some of his GOP colleagues on Tuesday, stating that there was no sign of Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election.

“I saw no evidence from our intelligence community, nor from the representatives today for the Department of State, that there is any evidence of any kind of that suggests that Ukraine interfered in our elections,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill. “We have ample evidence that Russia interfered in our elections.”

Romey’s statement follows testimony from Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale, the third-highest ranking State Department official. Hale told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Russian meddling was not a “hoax,” and that he knows of no evidence implicating Ukraine.

The remarks are a stark contrast to those of Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who on Monday told NBC News that there was no “question that elected officials in Ukraine had a favorite in the election,” promoting a debunked conspiracy theory.

“Every elected official in the Ukraine was for Hillary Clinton,” the Senate Intelligence Committee chair said. “Is that very different than the Russians being for Donald Trump?”

The comments echoed Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) claims on Sunday, when he speculated during a “Meet the Press” appearance that “both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election,” and that “it’s been well documented.”

The U.S. intelligence community has dismissed rumors of any role by Ukraine, reportedly briefing senators in November that the allegations are a talking point touted by Russia to divert attention from its own interference in the U.S. election.

Less than two weeks ago, Kennedy suggested on Fox News that Ukraine may have perpetrated the 2016 Democratic National Committee server hack that exposed party emails. The senator’s claim promulgated a lie often peddled by President Donald Trump while blatantly ignoring American intelligence officials’ conclusion that it was Russia behind the hack.

Kennedy recanted shortly after, telling CNN, “I was wrong.”

“The only evidence I have, and I think it’s overwhelming, it that it was Russia who tried to hack the DNC computer. I’ve seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it,” he said.

On Tuesday, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Intelligence Committee, denounced the erroneous claims, telling CNN that he hasn’t seen the slightest indication of Ukrainian involvement.

“I bet I sat through 25 hearings, briefings, meetings, probably more on the question of what happened in 2016,” he said. “In none of those meetings was there ever a hint, a breath, a suggestion, a word that somehow Ukraine was involved.”




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