John 15:17-19: This I command you, that you love one another. 18: If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19: If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.
Though I naturally support ending “Asian hate” and violence against Asians, I do not support legislation which supposedly will help achieve that goal. The “COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act” is a bill that is marketed as protection for Asians because some in America believe that Asians are responsible for the “cervezas sickness” and are carrying out violence against them. The “violence against Asians” statistics used to justify the legislation are interesting, but it is unlikely that the bill will have the intended effect of its supporters. While some people may applaud the legislation, Christians, including Asian Christians, should remember that “hate” is part of life in a sinful world.
Believers of any color or ethnic categorization should not be surprised when receiving hate from others. The Lord warned us that if the children of the light live for the glory of the Lord, the world will hate them just as it hated him. Let us understand “hate” broadly as “oppose,” that is, to be against someone or something, which in this case is a Christian. If we keep in mind that there are many degrees and expressions of hatred and that without some sort of opposition there would be no hate, then this understanding is plausible and would bring clarity to at least part of this discussion. The world opposes the Lord and so, also opposes those who spread his word. Often “hatred” simmers in the minds of at least a few people at any given time but occasionally flares beyond thoughts and words to physical violence and government legislation. Many of my students have privately shared with me that they are very reluctant to let others know they are Christian because of the undesired attention one receives in class. In the university, surprisingly, Christianity is often confused and conflated with people who use the label for political gain (Chrinos), and so Christianity is often considered imperialistic and generally irrelevant for matters of justice. At the very least, this misunderstanding can be used to justify ignoring the Christian message or excusing the hate against believers.
Some say that racialization or the categorization of the “other,” occurs when there is conflict between groups in society. I modify that by saying groups and/or individuals who are competing for the same limited resource or goal will have conflict with each other (for a more complete explanation of race read this). With conflict, there is often hate. In other words, it is all too easy for people in conflict or competition to find a reason to hate another which might not be their skin color. People hate others for their accent, appearance, beliefs, coordination, geographical origin, habits, language, religion, skills, success, and failure. It is unavoidable in life; even popular and likable people are hated for their popularity and likability.
Asians in America, like everyone else, have always lived in competition with others and so Asian history in America is filled with incidents of discrimination and violence. Though not every Asian is successful in their endeavors, enough Asians succeed to create various stereotypes which engender “hate.” California taxed Chinese gold miners for being foreigners (Foreign Miners’ Tax Act of 1850); and Wyoming coal miners killed Asians because they were willing to work for less pay (the Rock Springs massacre in1885). Quotas, or outcomes that give the appearance of quotas, once imposed for immigration purposes (Johnson-Reed Act of 1924) are now creatively used in admissions offices to ensure self-imposed diversity percentages. This means that it is not necessarily because they were Asians that these laws and regulations were passed. It was because they were the competition of the established and politically connected. The competing minority, in this case Asians, posed a threat to the status quo and other minorities. If the early Asians (mostly Chinese) in America were German Catholic immigrants, the reaction would likely have been the same using different traits to justify legislation against them. As long as resources are limited, there will be competition; as long as there is competition, there will be losers; and as long as there are losers, there will be “hate.”
Statistics can be easily manipulated, what can be perceived as an uptick in violence against a certain minority group may not have anything to do with their ethnicity or skin color. The ongoing and persistent violence against certain racialized groups may have more to do with failures in the political and justice system. Often discrimination and violence are enabled and protected in the name of equality, nationalism, safety, and fair wages. Special interest groups can exert influence on politicians who codify bias and privilege in their favor and against everyone else in the general interest. These new rules make life more costly and success more difficult for others. Nationalism can be manipulated to legalize discrimination against “foreigners” whose interests are skewed towards the welfare of their family in the “old country.” Being racialized as foreigners and depriving them of the right to citizenship, removed the ability for people to defend themselves with firearms in the 1800s; gun control laws are often racist in nature. Without the ability to defend themselves, Asians were easy victims to armed attackers in the past. The headlines might have been different with “rooftop Koreans” in Wyoming in 1885. Arbitrary determination of fair wages will cast anyone who is willing to work for less in a negative light; Asians who would not have been hired at a higher rate of pay, take advantage of underbidding labor costs, and are set up for violent pushback.
Channeling a bit of the late Walter Williams, it is interesting to note that though discrimination against Asians was and is common in America, it was not enough to deter or prevent Asians from continuing to creatively compete and establish themselves as Americans. Though there were violent incidents and racist acts perpetrated against Asians, most of America understood that arbitrary discrimination is too costly and unsustainable. Despite codified discrimination, early American Asians were able to adapt and eke out a living and even prosper through innovative entrepreneurial endeavors like laundry services and restaurants. Education and testing as a way of social advancement are cultural norms all over Asia no matter the country. Even before the big education push for college education in America, for many Asians, going to college was and still is a rite of passage; most Asians are expected to go to college by family and community. It is the entrepreneurial spirit and priorities of Asians in business and education which will keep them in the realm of competition; and so, hate will be close by.
We cannot control the emotions and actions of others but whether one is hated for being Asian or Christian, we have the power to choose how we respond. We should take care not to follow the examples of political activism in the world and remember the importance of “justice for all.” “Activism” as it is now, promotes special interests to legislate hypocrisy, which undermines justice and is the source of many of our current social ills, including the current anti-Asian violence. (For a more detailed discussion of justice, read this.) Not punishing the perpetrators of violence because of political influence is a gross failure of the justice system and encourages further violent acts.
Instead, believers must strive to reduce the size and power of government. Allowing for more private courts and arbitration would do more to reduce violence and hate in society than trendy political activism. Perhaps we have allowed too many in our society to grow up without understanding the value and power of freedom. It may be that seminaries lack the theoretical framework to push back against trending social justice opinions. How we arrived at this moment in time, can be explained in many ways for it was not a simple process. In the meantime, we must come to terms with the competitive nature of this world; we must compete with others to do the work we need to do, to produce the best value for others and to live peacefully. Christians must strive to be the best, not because material wealth and success are the goals of faith, but because this is how we serve others and live out our lives of faith. There are consequences for all our choices, but that is true no matter our beliefs and skin color. But we may be able to help people get over “losing” in the marketplace by making life better through innovation and lowering the cost of living.
We must strive to stay mindful that a fair justice system is unlikely in a world of ever-growing government power and largess. Not only do you need to be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you…”, (1Peter 3:15) but you must be ready to continually innovate to help keep society from the stagnation and regression that is socialism. Someone said that innovation must outpace the government’s ability to regulate it; creativity and innovation must not stop. We must remember that solutions cannot be found in a governmental body which generally seeks to increase its own power and influence at the expense of justice in society. Trump’s encouragement of anger against China and Fauci’s funding of “gain of function” research should be enough to motivate people to seek viable alternatives to political activism and perhaps rediscover the value of freedom, competition, cooperation, and equal protection under the law. The politicization of law can only lead to more legalized hypocrisy and greater injustice throughout the country.
We do this through perseverance and trust in the will of God that comes with faith. We can be confident that injustice is unsustainable; arbitrary discrimination cannot last long against the tide of personal preferences. Believers should continue to strive to be open-minded to innovation and find better ways to succeed and live peacefully while testifying the message of life. Truth will be vindicated; it always is. “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.” (Romans 8:28) Our testimony to our families, our friends, and society should always give witness and evidence to the grace and peace of God and an ever-increasing faith.