DeSantis outdoes Trump with putrid anti-Asian law in Florida
Last week, when the big news was inflation’s drop to three percent (the target was two percent), some observers wondered about the country’s feeling underwhelmed.
Maybe it’s because our happiness is connected to more than just the price of gas and eggs? (That’s especially if you’re vegan and/or a woman, or a member of a BIPOC or LGBTQ communities).
How can you cheer an improving economy when your rights and freedoms are eroding before your eyes?
Inflation may be on the decline, but democracy’s in recession. Rollbacks in abortion, affirmative action were expected. But a callback to alien land laws?
Those were the laws that prevented Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos from buying property in the U.S. going back to 1913. It prevented my family from buying property. Yours?
Long gone, those type of laws are making a comeback now that China has been identified as the nation’s Public Enemy No. 1 by politicos like Florida’s Anti-Woke Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.
In May before launching his campaign for president, DeSantis signed into law SB264, a discriminatory property law that restricts Chinese citizens from purchasing real estate in Florida, making it a felony for Chinese to buy property in restricted areas near military installations and “critical infrastructure” like airports, wastewater treatment plants, power plants and the like.
And how’s this for negative diversity: The law also applies to citizens of Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia, and North Korea, but only makes their violations misdemeanors.
AALDEF joined the ACLU and other groups in a lawsuit to stop the new law, saying it unfairly punishes Chinese people for actions of their government when there is no evidence of national security risk.
To justify suspicion, all it takes is your Asian face and name. Is it fair to think all Chinese in America are members of the Communist Party? That’s the perspective of SB264.
The first oral arguments to challenge the law were heard in Federal Court Tuesday.
“While it’s clear that the law is unconstitutional and discriminatory, we know this law is unjust and reprehensible not because someone told us but because we’ve seen this before when these racist laws impact our friends and family,” said AALDEF’s Bethany Li at a rally outside the courthouse after the hearing. “Our community has experienced discriminatory laws since we stepped foot into this country.”
If the law stands, we could actually see de facto Chinese exclusion zones throughout Florida. And don’t think the xenophobia stops with Florida. Starting this year, 14 states had laws restricting foreign ownership and investments in private ag land, according to AP. Now 6 more states have added restrictive laws: Arkansas, Idaho, Montana, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.
The trend is real, which makes the legal battle to reverse Florida’s SB 264 as critical any anti-Asian law that has come before it.
And it all starts with the stereotypical assumption made by DeSantis and his ilk, that Asians are the perpetual foreigners, essentially the enemy, disloyal and not to be trusted.
Of course, they mean Asians in America, and not Asian Americans, but DeSantis doesn’t care if innocent Asian Americans are harmed by SB 264. Racism in the name of national security!
He wouldn’t have needed a law if he just did what Pew Research did.
They asked Chinese Americans and other Asians how they really felt about China.
PEW: Most asian americans view their ancestral homelands favorably, but not Chinese Americans
That’s the surprising headline after a multi-lingual nationally representative survey of more than 7,000 Asian American adults from July 5, 2022 to Jan. 27, 2023 by the Pew Research Center.
The survey found positive opinions of Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, while Vietnamese, Filipinos and Indians were mixed.
As an example, Filipino Americans had a favorable view of the U.S. (76 percent), and the Philippines (72 percent). They liked Japan most (79 percent), but had an unfavorable view of China (19 percent). Given the disputes in the West Philippine Sea, the unfavorable ranking was no surprise.
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That number was much lower in the Chinese Americans’ opinion of China (41 percent). In fact, Chinese American adults had a more favorable view of Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea than they did of China.
And as tensions increase between mainland China and Taiwan, Chinese Americans’ favorability of Taiwan runs high — 62 percent of Chinese Americans say they have a favorable view of Taiwan.
According to Pew, Chinese Americans view of Taiwan varies by nativity, immigration experience and the length of time they’ve lived in the U.S.
Chinese immigrant adults are more likely than those born in the U.S. to hold favorable views of China (45 percent vs. 25 percent).
As for Taiwan, ABC’s (American Born Chinese) are more likely than immigrant adults to view Taiwan favorably (70 percent vs. 60) percent.
Pew also found that there’s little difference in views toward China based on political party affiliation. “Nearly identical shares of Republican and Democratic Asian Americans see China positively (20 percent and 18 percent respectively), and negatively (55 percent and 52 percent).
When it comes to China, Chinese Americans show a bipartisan negativity.
That’s a departure from past trends that found Republicans more likely than Democrats to hold an unfavorable opinion of China.
Now they both do.
And as far as the United States goes, three-quarters of Asian Americans have a favorable view of the U.S. including 44 percent who have a very favorable view.
About half of Asian Americans say the U.S. will be the world’s leading economic power over the next ten years. Only a third of Asian adults say China will be the leading power in the next decade.
The Pew survey findings help smash some xenophobic stereotypes. What do Asian Americans really think?
When you ask them, you see how misguided a policy like Florida’s SB 264 really is. It’s a bad law intended to target Chinese nationals but will likely hurt innocent Asian Americans more.
The lesson? Bad bills get signed into law when the prevailing belief among Republicans like DeSantis is that bigoted politics win elections.
Something they all learned from Donald Trump.
Thrice indicted soon?
If you don’t hear much about either the oral arguments in Florida on SB 264 or the Pew Research findings in the news this week, it’s probably because most of the news space is being taken up by the developments in the Trump legal epic.
Even DeSantis had a hard time on CNN trying to push his new anti-woke plan for the military that is anti-female, anti-trans and anti-Diversity/Inclusion/Equity.
That network, like others, were obsessed with Trump’s acknowledging receipt of a letter from Special Prosecutor Jack Smith saying Trump was a target of a federal investigation on the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Trump on social media said the letter gave him till Thursday “to report to the Grand Jury, which almost always means an Arrest and Indictment.”
He’s right on that. And if it all happens, it will be a third indictment so different from the other two indictments.
It’s not about hush money to a porn star. Nor is it about mishandling of classified documents and national security secrets. All that’s important, but the potential indictments over Jan. 6 are directly connected to the stealing of an election–a core crime against democracy.
It’s not a “witch hunt.” It’s not as Trump says, “all about election interference and a complete and total weaponization of law enforcement.”
The coming third indictment would add history on history. It would be a third strike that would surely make Trump the worst president ever, and perhaps could make his own party see the light.
They could stop trying to outdo Trump.
Or at least, start being more critical of Trump, currently the Republican front runner for both the White House and the Big House.
DeSantis could begin by dropping his extreme anti-woke ways, starting with SB264.
And Filipinos, among the largest group of Asian American Trump supporters, could also begin to dump Trump.
That would be a hopeful signal, a real turnaround in our country where democracy appears to be in recession.
NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on www.amok.com.
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He writes a column for the Inquirer.net’s North American Bureau.