For the Left, Do Asians "Count"?

I was filling out my EEO-1 forms the other day (that is a distasteful exercise where the government is leading us towards a post-racial society via mandatory reporting on the race of each of my employees).  For each employee there are five non-white categories:  Black, native American, native Hawaiian, Hispanic, and Asian.  I started to think how interesting it is that the Left supports numerous government interventions in support of the first four, but never mentions Asians.

This can't be solely due to lack of past discrimination.   Watch a movie from the 1930's or 1940's and you will see Asians shamelessly stereotyped** as badly as any other race.  And generations who lived and fought WWII had many members, even a majority, that harbored absolute hatred against one Asian people, the Japanese.  We only sent one group to concentration camps in the 20th century, and it was not blacks or Hispanics.  Of course "Asians" is an awfully broad categorization.  It includes Chinese, with whom we have had a complicated relationship, and Indians, for whom most Americans until recently probably have had little opinion at all one way or another.

One problem for many on the Left is the fact that Asians are considered a serious threat (both as immigrants and as exporters) to the Left's traditional blue collar union base.  Another is that they are an emerging threat to their little darlings trying to get into Harvard.  I have heard the squeakiest-clean, most politically correct liberals utter to me the most outrageous things about Asian kids.  Which is why I was not really surprised that white parents in California who claim to support merit-based college admissions immediately change their tune when they find out that this will mean that far more Asia kids will get in.

I have been working with some data on state voting and voter registration patterns by race in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision vis a vis the Voting Rights Act.  The Left went nuts, saying that blacks and Hispanics would again be discriminated against in the South, and the Obama Administration vowed to get on the case, saying that it would begin with Texas.

By the way, Texas may make perfect sense politically for Obama but is an odd choice based on the data.  Minority voter registration and voting rates as compared to the white population are usually used as an indicator of their election participation and access.  In the last election, according to the Census Bureau in table 4B, blacks in Texas both registered and voted at a higher rate than whites.  In Massachusetts, by contrast, in that same election blacks registered at a rate 10 percentage points lower than whites and voted at a rate about 7 points lower.

But if you really want something interesting in the data, look at the data and tell me what group, if we accept that low participation rates equate to some sort of covert discrimination, deserves the most attention (from the same table linked above):

US Voter Registration Rates (Citizens Only)

White:    71.9%

Black:    73.1%

Hispanic:     58.7%

Asian:     56.3%

US Voting Rates (Citizens Only, last Presidential election)

White:    62.2%

Black:    66.2%

Hispanic:    48.0%

Asian:    47.3%


** Postscript:  I am not an expert on discrimination, but I watch a lot of old movies and read a lot of history.  To my eye, stereotyping of Asians has been more similar to anti-Semitic portrayal of Jews than to stereotyping of blacks or Hispanics.  Blacks and Hispanics have most often been stereotyped as lazy and unintelligent.  Asians and Jews are more frequently stereotyped as scheming, plotting, and intelligent-but-evil.  Frank Capra, who directed a lot of good movies also directed a series of heavy-handed propaganda movies for the government during the war.  The one on Japan is interesting -- your gardener's quiet mien is actually masking a nefarious scheme.  Even in the 1940's Japan was portrayed as economically frightening to us.

Update:  Over the last couple of elections, Asians have shifted to voting fairly heavily Democratic.  So a cynical person would suggest that they might suddenly "discover" this group.  We shall see.


  1. trentmcbride:

    Looking through the data you linked is interesting. I do wonder how much the data is affected by self-categorization (i.e. hispanics sometimes categorize themselves as white). The difference between white and blacks either flips or narrows when going by "white non-hispanic" (depending on whether you look at "total" or "citizen").

    Still, the larger point is taken, and this data is not what I would have guessed. Also interesting, there is no trend in the states as I can tell. Some of the bluest states show much higher black participation than whites (CA, IL, DC) while others (MA, as you alluded to) the reverse. In the south, same thing (higher black participation rate in LA, MS; lower in AK, AL).

  2. marque2:

    Asians have it better now,but were severely discriminated against in California, well into the 1970's. In fact there was active Asian slavery in CA well into the 1950's - local cops closed their eyes to these violations. And then there was the round up in WWII which took most of them to Manzanar concentration camp in the Owens valley high mountains of CA.

    I am not surprised they vote less. They probably still feel they have to lay low. - But your point, I also wonder why the south had a voting rights racket against them but there was nothing in California.

  3. MingoV:

    There is a long history of people in the USA being anti-intelligent (which is not the same as being anti-intellectual). The bias against intelligence explains the prejudicial treatments of Jews and Asians that have disproportionate numbers of smart and successful people. However, the bias against intelligence occurs without religious or racial components. Highly intelligent people are called eggheads, nerds, geeks, dorks, bookworms, etc. and are often mistreated and bullied as children. Public schools have more programs with more funding for the mentally retarded than the highly intelligent. True merit-based systems for admissions, hiring, bonuses, and promotions are almost nonexistent because the masses don't want to be shown up by the brightest. There have been hiring discrimination cases against intelligent people (e.g.: a police department wouldn't hire smart applicants and a business administrator wouldn't hire anyone with a 4.0 GPA).

    The bottom line is that prejudicial behaviors will be directed against any individual or group that has characteristics that are perceived as different from the norm.

  4. herdgadfly:

    Gosh, I had forgotten that government contractors are required to file the EEOC-1 and to pledge allegiance periodically to the U.S. Department of Labor. While school enrollment formulas have been found to be a faulty basis for discriminating against white and asian candidates for enrollment (or is that a basis for favoring blacks and latinos?), the government spits on its contractors and ignores its own employment violations.

  5. Madhopster:

    Asians, as a whole, were not sent to the camps during WW II. Specifically , Japanese nationals and Japanese-Americans residing on the west coast were interned. I imagine that ethnic Chinese and Filipino's living in america probably supported the internment, having little love for the Japanese who had invaded and brutalized their countries. Of course, the people interned had nothing to to with those invasions or brutality.

  6. marque2:

    I have to admit I did a bit of generalization. There were two groups Japanese and Chinese in CA around WWII. Japanese were interned, but not looked down upon. Chinese were considered scum, and were forced into China town ghettos, or even forced to live in separate towns (eg Locke, CA) there was Chinese slavery in CA until about the 1950's. When it was finally abolished, many stayed on as the butlers, because they didn't know what else to do.

    It isn't mentioned much but when I was younger there were hints about it in the local paper. (Eg some person died, and the Obits would mention the sordid details. ) Or the comments about a certain restaurant that was in a former brothel - of Chinese women.

    Anyway, thank you for asking me to clarify.

  7. Corky Boyd:

    I worked in the newspaper industry on the business side. At a conference in about 1970, the publisher of medium sized newspaper gave his take on identifying the race of some of his employees. First, employers are not allowed to require employees to identify their race. Race is often included on employment forms as an optional question. If the employee declines to answer it, the employer must fill in the blanks. There are forms giving characteristics that can aid in identification.

    There were several with whom the publisher had concerns. So he asked the EEOC to send a representative to eyeball the questionable employees.

    They never answered his letter

  8. irandom419:

    It is sad that we ban shows based on stereotypes of Mexicans as being fast or was that lazy, I can't remember.

    Normally, I could care less about this garbage since it reminds me of apartheid in South Africa. People actually had to apply to be another race, so they could move to that area.

  9. SomeWhiteGuy:

    I always put down that myself & my family are Black (we ALL came from Africa 100,000 to 600,000 years ago) & Hispanic on all census forms, job applications, nosy Govt. agencies, etc.

    Everyone should do it, screw with the numbers.

    We all need to fight back against this type of Govt. oppression so we get a COLOR BLIND society just like Dr. King dreamed of...

    On a side note I worked with a guy with a last name of Granhammer, he was born in Peru, but his family moved there in the 1950's from Germany, he is considered Hispanic for reporting purposes...

  10. Rob:

    Are Filipinos Asian, Hispanic or Pacific islanders? Never could figure that one out.

  11. markm:

    They are Hispanic Pacific Islanders (Hispanic is a facet of culture, not a race), and Pacific Islanders are obvously Asian, so they should check all three of those boxes.

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