Lately I’ve been surrounded by liberals. My friends, most family members, co-workers, and colleagues at the non-profits and institutions I serve lean decidedly left. So imagine my elation when I stumbled across Eugene Liu, founder of AsianConservatives.com.
Liu is a Christian conservative of Asian descent. Liberals will assume that someone fitting that description must be stuffy, stoic, and closed-minded. In contrast, Liu is full of humor and wit, and expresses empathy for liberal points of view. Does he agree with Asian liberals? Probably not. That doesn’t prevent him from writing with a great deal of empathy.
His character and the blog AsianConservatives.com fascinated me, and I asked him if he would be open to an interview for 8A. I warned him 8A was a liberal bunch, writers and readers alike, and still Liu was willing to step forward. That’s two tons of awesomeness right there.
His responses to these interview questions resonate with me and express ideologies that I find better equipped to pull our nation out of this recession and provide for a more perfect union. We tried “change” already, and it didn’t work. So it behooves us all to consider what the other wing has to offer.
Moreover, of greater interest to 8A readers, what is the conservative’s view of APA activism exactly? Here, Liu offers a glimpse.
Recent polls find that the Asian American community leans decidedly Left and liberal. Why do you think that is?
Polls, like media outlets, can also slant left or right. I would say, however, that liberal Asian Americans have traditionally been more vocal and active. We can all agree that historically political activism and grassroots organization stemmed from liberal elements. It wasn’t until the recent Tea Party movement that conservatives have really mobilized en masse in the public eye.
I actually believe that the split between liberals and conservatives among the Asian American community mirrors closely to that of the nation as a whole. For every young liberal Asian college student there probably exists a conservative parent. The majority of universities are overrun by liberal academics and administrators. I went to an engineering school in the south (deep red state) and even ended up a liberal until I became a Christian. (And no, we cannot determine whether Jesus was a conservative or a liberal. However, we know he’s a Jew so he probably would’ve voted for Republican Bob Turner in NY-9.)
Perhaps there are also cultural factors at work. And I bet there are plenty of fiscal conservative Asian Americans that lean left on social issues. How would we label them?
Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.” It’s one of my favorite quotes about politics because it speaks to my own transformation, too (though I am not yet over-the-hill).
I also love that Churchill quote! I’m interested in your transformation from a liberal in your twenties to a conservative in your…still twenties, am I right? We’re all 21 here. Anyway. Based on what you wrote earlier, it sounds like becoming Christian had much to do with your transformation. How? Why? If you had always been deeply Christian since birth, would you have been a conservative in your 20s? If you never became Christian, would you still be a liberal today? Is politics and religion that interwoven? What is the relationship between politics and religion for you?
One of the reasons I became a Christian was the realization of God’s hand in our lives, and that God has a plan for each person, whether he or she knows it or not, believer or otherwise. A person’s ideology is often shaped throughout his or her life, influenced by others (parents, relatives, friends, coworkers, etc.) as well as by personal experiences such as faith. In my case, Christianity certainly steered my ideological meter to right-of-center and perhaps accelerated my ideological determination as a conservative.
Is politics and religion so interwoven? Well, politics stem from ideology, so is ideology and religion interwoven? Yes, but not in the way most people tend to think. There’s a lot of talk surrounding conservatism and religion, and yes, our Founding Fathers sought divine providence in declaring independence from the British crown. But let’s not forget the leftists political philosophers in modern history: Marx, Lenin, and Mao, just to name a few, all had something to say about religion and politics. Even if they did advocate atheism, it is still about religion, except it is godless. There’s nothing wrong with religion and politics being interwoven, but there’s definitely a line we do not wish to cross: becoming a theocracy. And we all should be proud of the fact that so far our Republic still stands not as a theocracy.
To me things aren’t so complicated between politics and religion. Life, Liberty, pursuit of Happiness, and there’s wisdom in that order of things, too. God gives life, God gives free will, and God gives us the ability to labor so we may enjoy its fruits. Government has infringed upon those “unalienable rights” with abortion, numerous regulatory institutions, and an unbecoming steward of the people’s money. (I know I’ll probably open up a gigantic can of worms with this, but guess what the government has to say about this can: how big is the can? how many worms fit a can? what nutritional label to slap on the can? where do the worms originate from? are they organic worms? how high is the sodium content? will smoking worms be hazardous to my health? etc.)
As an Asian American conservative, what is your mission and vision for the Asian American community?
I want to educate the Asian American community about U.S. politics and how decisions from elected officials impact the lives within the community. When I hear somebody complain about an issue, whether it’s about taxes, the education system, health care, etc., I’ll ask “So what are you going to do about it?” and that usually draws a blank stare. Then I follow up, “You can at least vote.” We need to learn about the power of the ballot.
The overwhelming majority of Asian American bloggers are liberal. Where are the conservative Asian American bloggers?
Obviously, Michelle Malkin is by far the most prominent conservative Asian American blogger. I do agree that we’re a rare breed, and I cannot think of a reason. I welcome any theories others may have…
Since you brought her up… what are your thoughts of Michelle Malkin? Her book In Defense of Internment struck a raw nerve in the Asian American community. Where do you stand with regard to that book’s thesis? Are you aligned with Malkin? Do you diverge from her opinions? What are your opinions on Michelle Malkin as a role model for the Asian American community?
A disclaimer first: I have not read Malkin’s In Defense of Internment. Perhaps we could have another discussion once I’ve read the book. But to comment on her being a role model for Asian Americans… Why not? She’s intelligent, she’s a great opinion writer, and has done well for herself as a conservative voice in the media.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m willing to bet the farm that there are young Asian Americans in this country who are smart and aspire to be a great writer or a media personality. Malkin can certainly be a role model in that case, and so can Akrypti. (This is the part where I get easier interview questions after kissing up to the interviewer…)
When the media portrays Asian Americans in a racist or offensively stereotypical light, it is often the APA activist Left that come forward to protest, not the APA activist Right. Why do you think that is?
Well, I think “racist” has been used so much in the mainstream media these days that the word has lost its meaning. And I suppose liberals get offended easily with all the political correctness going around? What’s great about this nation is that offensive comments and insults can go both ways! The Civil Rights Movement — that was about racism. Somebody calling me names and making fun of my slanted eyes — that’s just an immature moron stating the obvious.Oh, stop me if you’ve heard this joke before: How do you know if the burglar that raided your house is Asian? (If your valuable electronics are missing and your kid’s homework is done. Har har.)
One of the issues that Asian American liberals tend to be hypersensitive about is the portrayal of Asians in the media. The slanty-eyed thing you brought up is a big deal to liberals, case in point. If that kind of thing isn’t as big a deal to Asian American conservatives, what is then? What is a race-related issue that you would consider a big deal?
(I guess the kissing up part didn’t work…)
Okay, I’m going to say it: Dear libs, stop being so sensitive to every. little. thing. If a popular sitcom doesn’t have an Asian actor, that doesn’t mean the viewers don’t know that Asians exist. If an Asian actor portrays a nerdy student in a Hollywood movie, that doesn’t mean everybody thinks we’re nerds (do you think blacks — ahem, African Americans — are nerds after falling in love with the Steve Urkel character?). It’d be an issue if Asian American citizens were denied voting rights. It’d be an issue if Asian Americans were being persecuted as a follower of Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Falun Gong, or some other religion. It’d be an issue an Asian Americans were being taxed differently than other ethnic groups. It’d be an issue if Asian American parents were prohibited from making babies.
Remember: Life, Liberty, pursuit of Happiness.
Seriously, we’re just Americans. We’re parents, children, teachers, students, lawyers, judges, scientists, artists, engineers, musicians, punks, rockers, goths, metal heads — you get the idea.
Except we’re full of Asian awesome sauce. After all, you cannot spell Caucasian without Asian. Xiexie!
Asian American conservatives are often viewed by the liberals as apathetic toward Asian American activism and racial inequality. Is there any validity to that view? Where is the Asian American conservative voice in these matters?
That’s an unfortunate perception and by no means a valid view. I think Asian Americans on both sides are sensitive to racial issues. If you don’t see Asian American conservatives at a rally somewhere doesn’t mean they aren’t calling the politicians to give them a piece of their mind on the issue. Again, I think conservatives have just started recently to be more visible with their activism. They do have to thank the liberals for that, to learn from the best.
In 2009 the BANANA Conference was founded. BANANA is an annual gathering of the blogosphere’s most notable Asian American bloggers from across the country. These bloggers are collectively a liberal-leaning, progressive bunch. Where are the Asian conservative bloggers? It’s not called the BANANA Liberal Asians Conference. Any ideas?
Hey, how come nobody invited any of us from AsianConservatives.com? This is the first time I’ve heard of this conference. Sounds like a lot of fun and a great opportunity to network with other bloggers (umm, right, guys?). I definitely will look into it next year (if it’s still scheduled)…
Finally, what are your main criticisms of Asian American liberals?
The same with any liberal: Don’t be so open minded that your brain falls out. Learn to use your sixth sense — common sense. And treasure the traditions and history of America, that we are a nation of free individuals living under the rule of law, that America is a republic and not a democracy, and what the government gives it can easily take away.
Eugene Liu is a Christian conservative of Asian descent. He is the founder of AsianConservatives.com, a blog that serves to further the conservative cause (as if the blogosphere needs another right-wing echo chamber, eh?). Besides politics, he’s also interested in technology and movies.