by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Is there any scenario where you can envision President-elect Joe Biden getting together with his top advisers after the election and declaring, “Now, remember, whatever we do, we’re not going to let any Asian Americans become cabinet secretaries”?
Biden can be an insensitive, ignorant clod. You probably recall the time he blurted out, upon meeting an Indian American at a political event, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.” But it’s difficult to imagine Biden deliberately setting out to exclude a particular ethnic group. The man has plenty of flaws, but an instinct to reject others based on race isn’t one of them. …
… But Senator Tammy Duckworth spent a chunk of Tuesday contending that Biden and his top advisers were somehow insufficiently committed to having Asian Americans serve in his administration:
“Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat and the first Thai American woman in Congress, said it was ‘unacceptable’ that Biden has named no Asian American Cabinet secretaries and vowed to oppose nominees on the floor ‘until they figure this out.’” …
… Later on Tuesday, Duckworth and her colleague Mazie Hirono of Hawaii told reporters that they intended to vote against any Biden “nominees who aren’t minorities.”
Instead of judging those nominees by their merits, those senators pledged to judge them by the color of their skin. If only we had a word to describe that phenomenon.
By Tuesday night, Duckworth had backed away from the threat, but not before making comments that suggested certain high-profile figures didn’t meet her threshold for being sufficiently representative of their ancestries. …
… Kamala Harris doesn’t count because only her mother immigrated from India? How does the vice president feel about a U.S. senator declaring she’s not Asian enough to qualify as an Asian American? Are the self-described anti-racists going to bring back the “one drop rule” in racial purity to ensure sufficient representation?