Last month, Republican candidate for Texas House District 62 Shelley Luther tweeted: “Chinese students should be BANNED from attending all Texas universities. No more Communists!” While the Tweet was deleted on Jan. 7, I wonder how anyone could make such a statement without considering how it could come across: as a serious red flag in terms of this person’s ideas and automatic bias toward an ethnic group. On Jan. 9 on Twitter, Luther added, “China created a virus that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. America allows Communist Chinese ADULT students into our public colleges. This isn’t about race. THIS IS A WAR.”
China created a virus that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. America allows Communist Chinese ADULT students into our public colleges. This isn’t about race. THIS IS A WAR. #wakeup
— Shelley Luther (@ShelleyLuther) January 9, 2022
It is Luther’s right to feel that members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) should be banned from universities. If she were to say that Chinese people who are part of the CCP should be banned from Texas universities, that would have been understandable. However, the phrasing of her tweets broadly stereotypes all Chinese people, regardless of their nationality as being communist. Luther fails to recognize that each resident has their own culture, identity, and ethnic background that adds value to our community.
Luther is taking advantage of widespread misinformation about Chinese immigrants and using it to spread hateful ideas that simply aren’t true. Many immigrants actually fled the CCP’s communist regime for economic opportunity in the United States, making Luther’s claim about the spread of communism completely false.
Those justifying her tweets would argue that the “left” — also known as the Democratic Party — is wielding the race card. But these posted remarks are a good example of when it is appropriate to claim someone is being racist.
Luther’s tweets project her as wanting to restrict a racial group from having the same right to attend college as other students, which is a form of discrimination, and that is dangerous. Candidates with extreme ideologies will later push for more undeniably discriminatory laws. For example, what if she started to peddle these racist beliefs in the Texas House of Representatives?
Luther later claimed that her tweet was focused on Chinese people living in China and “obviously not Chinese Americans and not people that were born here.” Her clarification makes me feel a little more reassured, but what about students in China who want to study abroad for experience and have no control over the CCP that dominates their country?
The fear that students from a communist nation are all enemies backtracks who we are as America being the land of opportunity.
Still, Luther’s deleted tweet is easily interpreted as Chinese Americans also are all communists. In fact, the opposite is true. Legally, Chinese Americans can’t be communists, because if they are born abroad and become citizens, they must swear an oath to renounce “all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince…sovereignty” and protect the U.S. Constitution.
As an Asian college student who was adopted by a Caucasian family, I’ve grown up to be a proud American, and I recognize how fortunate I am to live in this country.
Luther’s language also brings harm to the Republican party, because excluding an entire population could discourage Chinese Americans from wanting to vote red. Asian immigrants are attracted to the ideals of hard work, self-sufficiency, freedom, and the ability to shape one’s future. Asian culture helps add value to the workforce in America. These ideals inspire Chinese immigrants and students to live the American Dream. Some wanna-be policymakers fear the success that Asian individuals work hard for.
Asian Americans are often viewed as highly educated and making good household incomes, therefore, the likelihood of becoming more right-leaning is not a shocker. We are one of the conservatives’ favorite examples in arguments made in debunking white privilege. If the Asian community joins conservative candidates, it helps turn out more voters from other minorities. That movement could inspire other minority groups to vote red.
If the GOP wants to destroy the Democrat party, they should not elect candidates who alienate minority citizen voters who could help push minority groups to exit the Democrat party.
I charge every voter to sit in a room with people from many different backgrounds and look to your left then right, and see that is America. The fear-mongering technique is used to influence voters by making them feel threatened.
The real fear is believing that every member of an ethnic group shares the same bias and that mistaken belief places a target on them or puts them at risk. I urge people to call out racism and extremism and make sure that Republicans — or any candidate — do not cast minorities aside.