Analysis: How Chuck Grassley’s ‘work ethic’ and ‘your people’ comments to Korean American judicial nominee perpetuate harmful model minority myth

If confirmed, she can be the primary Korean American girl to function a federal appellate decide, and solely the second AAPI girl to serve on the ninth Circuit from California.

Grassley’s feedback tapped into an extended historical past of stereotyping Asian Americans.

“What you said about your Korean background reminded me a lot of what my daughter-in-law of 45 years has said: ‘If I’ve learned anything from Korean people, it’s a hard work ethic. And how you can make a lot out of nothing,’ ” the senator stated throughout Koh’s affirmation listening to.

Hard work ethic. Quite a bit out of nothing. You and your individuals. Swiftly, Grassley’s feedback set off backlash, with many stating that the senator had conjured the corrosive, age-old “model minority” delusion.

Presumably, Grassley meant no offense together with his statements, crass as they had been. His “​​intent was to be complimentary, not to insult anyone,” per communications director Taylor Foy, who talked about that the senator’s daughter-in-law is Korean American.

Still, the at instances violent anti-Asian bigotry that is loomed over the US over the previous yr and a half has made clear the significance of not flattening the experiences of marginalized communities.

“Even if you think you’re being complimentary, assigning any character trait to an entire community is the definition of prejudice,” Rep. Judy Chu, a California Democrat and chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, instructed The Washington Post.

“Treating all members of a group as the same invites mistreatment when one person can be held accountable for the actions of someone else. It may not be the same incitement to violence seen in other slurs, but it is harmful nonetheless,” she added.

Chu was one in all a number of Asian American members of Congress earlier this yr who urged their Republican colleagues to tamp down their rhetoric following a spate of assaults on Asian Americans.

Notably, Grassley’s feedback had been troubling for an additional purpose, too — for the space they put between Koh and her nation.

According to a 2020 research, bias in opposition to Asian Americans ballooned after conservative media retailers started latching onto “the Chinese virus” and different stigmatizing phrases to characterize the novel coronavirus. What’s extra, this language supercharged the idea that Asian Americans are “perpetual foreigners,” an thought that may yield much more discrimination.

In drawing a line round Koh and “her people,” then, Grassley, in his personal means, was collaborating on this narrative. Or put somewhat bit otherwise: As Koh sought to proceed serving the US, Grassley advised that, truly, this is not her nation.


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