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How To Fight Hate: Asian Style

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Last week I wrote an article about the Asian Hate that’s going around in the United States. It was an angry article. It was not a good article. I’m glad I didn’t publish it.

I wrote in essence, that Asian people are angry about hate that has been around since Trump’s infamous words about Mexicans. Jews knew to expect this increase in hate. When it happened, our response was to complain about it. Our hope was that someone would stop it. Of course, no one did and so when #StopAsianHate took off, I felt betrayed by the Asian stance against hate. I felt like Asian Americans ignored the rising hate and are only now acting against it now that it came to them and are expecting everyone to help them stop it. I felt like they were not good allies.

I was wrong.

What I realized upon greater reflection was that what really upset me is not how Asian Americans are standing up to hate nor the fact that they didn’t seem to care about it when it was affecting others. What upset me was my approach to Jewish hate.

There is little difference between the brazen attacks on Jews and Asians, online and in the streets. White alienated, entitled men are lashing out at Jews, Black, Latino, and Asians in deadly ways because life did not turn out according to their expectations. The difference between how Asian people responded to this hate and how Jews responded is that they demanded an end to it. They demanded that we all Americans join and end this hate. They made it visible, they made it clear that it is unacceptable and they gave only one possible action for any decent person: to stand up with them.

Compare this with how we the Jews have been fighting BDS, antisemitism, and anti-Zionism. We choose our words carefully. We try not to be too proud. Even the words we use are nuanced: “antisemitism” doesn’t even have the word Jewish in it. When an attack occurs, most Jews are not posting “end Jew-hate” on their Instagram. We take the hate half-expecting it. We have a view of the world that it is full of antisemites and that they are evil and we will show the world that they are evil and we think that the world will care, perhaps because 6 million of us died 80 years ago. That the world will then shame them into stopping. And if it doesn’t, then it shows that the world is an uncaring and evil place.

But that’s not how the world works. The world gives only that which you demand. The world doe not care about you, it cares about itself. Asian Americans showed that when they demand that this Asian hate not be tolerated, the world will act and respond. This upset me because I was not outspoken, I did not demand an end to antisemitism, I did not demand action. I merely talked about it happening and was upset that no one took action.

Asian Americans who stood up to this ugly violent racism showed me not just how to fight hate, but also my own shortcomings when it comes to facing hate. So we can be angry and complain that the Stop Asian Hate slogan took off, or we can emulate and demand that Jew Hate must stop as well.

As an example of how to fight, here is Bowen Yang’s Weekend update on fighting hate. Fuel Up!

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