Thursday, September 09, 2004

Why I am and am not an APIA

Those willing to scroll back a bit on this blog's archives will recall Christian asking the SAVE community to respond to Derbyshire's article on the APIA, or there lackof's, community. Because I'm a lover of acronyms and know that many are not (or just aren't in the "in"), I will explain some to start with:

SAVE - a student-run civic awareness group
LEAD - a civic awareness group led by Assemblywoman Chu
APIA - Asian, Pacific Islander American
APALS - Asian Pacific American Legislative Staff

Ok, let's begin. I do agree with Derbyshire's argument that certain members of the APIA community are advocating a voting bloc for future elections. Their hope and dreams, of course, is for that voting bloc to mirror that of the African American community (who as many will recall voted 9:1 for Gore). Despite such a showing against Bush, Bush himself polled a respectable 30% or so from the Hispanic/Latino/Chicano (I'm sure you get the point) community. However, Bush fares even better in the APIA community almost hovering around the 40ish numbers.

Like I said, Derbyshire and, as a corollary, Christian are right in saying that current APIA activists are pushing for the 80-20 initiative. Organizations formed from the APIA banner have specific goals to meet the 80-20 initiative. First consider the APALS network, a group of staffers that align themselves to seek the promotion of the philosophy embodied by Assemblywoman Chu and her APIA Caucus in the state legislature. Also, groups like LEAD and SAVE are formed to help promote and emulate that message to young APIAs (though I'd call it brainwashing). However, to note, the latter no longer follows the directives of the APIA elite.

I disagree w/ Derbyshire in his implication that the elite are winning the battle for the 80-20 initiative. First off, the APIA conservatives are a vocal bloc, though some are more vocal than others. Such conservative members of this bloc, though, are geared more towards the economic issues than they are about social ones. Their stance on the social questions is generally "I'm cool with you as long as you don’t tread on my and my family's way of life". On economics you have to first ask what part of API culture you are talking about. The Indochinese/Chinese having come from communist countries want lower taxes, lower regulations on small business, and a general freedom for their children to thrive.

Notice though that I said Indochinese/Chinese. This is because I do not speak for the Philippines, the Indians, the Persians, the Maori and the many other groups that are technically in the APIA bloc. This leads to the problem with starting up a voting bloc of that magnitude as well. Though the 80-20 backers would like to make the APIA a voting bloc, it won’t happen because of the myriad of people involved. We're not just talking about socially or economically but culturally. The cultures of the Chinese are not the same for the Philippines. That means that different ethics apply in their decision to vote a certain way.

Ok, let’s use me and my Persian friend "Jack" as examples of the political philosophies the APIA might have. I am a proud conservative because I know what my family has gone through because of communism. At the hands of communism, my great uncle was shot in the head; at the hands of communism, my grandparents emigrated from China to Vietnam; at the hands of communism, they in Vietnam, took away my paternal grandfather's business; at the hands of communism, my maternal grandmother was forced to send her children to America for a better life; at the hands of communism, my dad was forced into a "re-education" camp. So when I see socialistic and communistic tendencies often on the left, I worry. I worry when my parents have people in government tell them that my parents don't know how to spend their own money so the government should spend it. To them and to me, they ran from such stuff. It's also why I am pro-business, pro-tax relief, pro-2nd amendment, etc.

Now "Jack" hasn't really gone through nor have family that went through communism. He has seen though, many on the "Right of center" condemning his religion as that of hate, oppression, etc. For him, who just wants to practice his religion in peace, it worries him that we have a President who is very in touch with his Judeo-Christian faith. Jack is also a sympathizer to the Palestinian plight so again, when the Republican Party, including me, pledges support for Israel, he again worries that his culture is being attacked. Because Jack's family comes from a developing region, he feels that if a country is wealthy enough (as Americans) then they should provide for "basic care" that to him currently looks like care in the developing world.

Now obviously that I and "Jack" do not speak for all Indochinese/Chinese or Persians because we are members of a diverse group...but then we can also say that the APIA are not all the same. This is why the acronym is a misnomer. This is also my reason why the APIA elite will never be able to make an 80-20 voting bloc. It's just too hard to unify this diverse group of people.

So in case you are curious, do I consider myself a member of APIA? Yes, geographically, I am technically a member of APIA but politically or culturally? No, I am of the Chinese culture (though I can get more specific than that).
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