Steel: Democrats Discriminate Against Asian Americans, Demand Reparations

Proposition 209 (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

California Democrats are writing a new chapter in their party’s shameful history of racial discrimination against Asian Americans – all in the name of racial equality.

Earlier this month, the state legislature approved two controversial measures that inexplicably target Asian Americans for further discrimination.

The first bill, Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 5 (ACA 5), would ask voters to repeal Proposition 209, the California Civil Rights Initiative, a 1996 constitutional amendment that banned discrimination or preferential treatment in public contracting, public employment, and public education.

Proposition 209 has helped thousands of Asian Americans gain acceptance to state colleges and universities.

For years, top universities, including most notably Harvard University, have discriminated against Asian Americans in their college admissions process by consistently and systematically giving “low scores to Asian-American applicants on personal traits, such as kindness and leadership,” a disturbing fact revealed in the pending lawsuit, Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard.

Higher education’s systemic discrimination against Asian Americans has occurred throughout the country with one notable exception: California.

Moreover, a level playing field has also helped other minority students.

Gail Heriot, a University of San Diego law professor who co-chaired the 1996 California Civil Rights Initiative campaign, points to evidence that the measure has helped underrepresented minority students excel.

“Immediately prior to the implementation of Proposition 209, only one black student had a freshman-year GPA of 3.5 or better — a single black honor student in a freshman class of 3,268,” Heriot noted in a 2018 journal article. “In contrast, 20 percent of the white students in the class had such a GPA. The next year, with Proposition 209, a full 20 percent of black students could boast a GPA of 3.5 or better after their first year.”

Graduation rates among underrepresented racial minorities have also risen.

Wenyuan Wu, the director of administration for the Asian American Coalition for Education, analyzed two decades of graduation rate data at the University of California system. Four-year graduation rates of underrepresented racial minorities rose from 31.3% during the 1995-97 period to 55.1 % in 2014.

“The 6-year graduation rate has fared even better: 66.5% in 1998 and 75.1% in 2013,” Wu found. “Minority admissions at UC exceeded those of 1996 both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of all admissions.”

And yet Democrats have put repeal of Proposition 209 on the ballot.

Perhaps even more absurd than Democrats’ rollback of Proposition 209 is Assembly Bill 3121, which would create a state taskforce to develop a plan for slave reparations exclusively for African Americans.

The reparations bill effectively forces Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Korean Americans, all of whose ancestors were subject to equal if not greater discrimination than African Americans, to pay up.

Let’s accurately remember history: California’s constitution, which banned slavery from the beginning, at one time legalized discrimination against Chinese immigrants.

“No corporation now existing or hereafter formed under the laws of this State, shall, after the adoption of this Constitution, employ directly or indirectly, in any capacity, any Chinese or Mongolian,” reads Article XIX of the California Constitution of 1879 titled, “Chinese”. “No Chinese shall be employed on any State, county, municipal, or other public work, except in punishment for crime.”

The Democrat reparations bill isn’t about fairness, equality, or righting historical injustices.  It makes no mention of the systemic discrimination against Chinese Americans written into California’s Constitution. The reparations bill is simply about catering to the whims of the far left.

The truth is that the California Democratic Party has long tolerated racism and discrimination against Asian Americans.

For example, Democrat schools chief Andrew Moulder fought to keep Chinese-American students, including Mamie Tape, out of San Francisco public schools.

In World War II, Japanese-Americans were victims of Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, the shameful internment order that sent 120,000 citizens to incarceration camps, including one at Manzanar, California.

Following the Vietnam War, Democrat Governor Jerry Brown said Vietnamese refugees weren’t welcome in his state — as he tried to stop the federal effort to, in his words, “dump Vietnamese on” California.

And every April 29, Korean-Americans commemorate Sa-I-Gu, the Korean word for the 1992 Los Angeles riots when thousands of Korean-Americans were targeted by rioters under Democrat Mayor Tom Bradley’s watch.

With these two discriminatory bills, California Democrats have continued their sorry tradition of discriminating against Asian Americans.

But Asian Americans voters can fight back — at the ballot box.

“In California, 14 percent of eligible voters are now Asian Americans (nationwide the number is 5 percent),” wrote John Fund, National Review’s political affairs reporter. “By 2050, Asian Americans will account for a tenth of the nation’s voters and at least a fifth of California voters.”

Come November, Asian American voters must make their voices heard.

Shawn Steel serves as California’s committeeman on the Republican National Committee. 

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