I have been a supporter of Jay Chen, who is running for Congress and even had a chance to briefly interview him at the Democratic National Convention this past October. I recently received this email from the Jay Chen for Congress campaign and was outraged:
Yes, we were as confused as you when we first saw this sign in La Habra Heights yesterday. Only U.S. citizens can run for public office, so what are these folks getting at? Are they taking a jab at my birthplace city, Kalamazoo? I know it’s a funny sounding name, but it’s no worse than Honolulu, and it’s not like anyone ever gets worked up about people being born in that city…
This is not only racist, but stupid. Everyone understands that only U.S. citizens can run for office and only citizens can vote. Such a sign is racist – equating Asian Americans as non-citizens as well as the perpetual foreigner stereotype. After seeing some of Chen’s opponents on The Daily Show fighting Chinese language instruction in the classroom, I thought those in Hacienda Heights were fairly ignorant. But this sign just reinforces the ignorant image and adds on top of that a racist image.
This sign reminded me of MSNBC’s poor choice of words and ignorance during the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics when, after fellow American ice figure skater Tara Lipinski beat out Michelle Kwan for the Gold, MSNBC had an Internet news feed with the headline, “AMERICAN BEATS out Kwan“- insulting Asian Americans everywhere.
Hopefully this ignorant and racist sign is not the work of Chen’s opponent, Congressman Ed Royce, and just that of one of his misguided supporters. Otherwise, if the sign is the work of Royce’s official campaign and approved by Royce, he should step down immediately and certainly any staffers involved should be fired immediately. There is just no room for these kind of baseless attacks. Mark my words, if an Asian American (and bye eligibility, that person would have been born in the United States) ever runs for President of the United States, you’ll have idiots like Donald Trump and Orly Taitz that will claim otherwise in a conspiracy of birtherism masking racism.