Beware: Some Stoke Xenophobia For Profit


Phillip Cozzi, Editor

A Column:

Panic has embedded itself in much of our official politics and media, so much so that it leads to the mistrusting and the further ostracization of our neighbors and fellow citizens. Amidst such distrust, China, as both a sociopolitical and economic rival to the United States, has become enemy No. 1 in the American consciousness.

When we lose the ability to distinguish the Chinese Communist Party from our Chinese siblings in America, we give in to the fear and panic stoked by large media conglomerates profiting off fear and confusion along with American war profiteers eyeing their next conflict.

The Chinese spy balloon panic stoked fears of conflict with China, and even provoked President Biden to shoot down what some allege was a $12 weather balloon of a northern Illinois hobbyist group, according to articles from the New York Post and Daily Mail.

All this fear and skepticism is often misdirected at Chinese Americans who have no connections with the CCP or any similar political entities. They’re your neighbors, friends, comrades, lovers, coworkers, etc. Hate violence against them has risen a massive 339 percent from 2020 to 2021, according to hate crime data published by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

Recently the FBI declared that a lab leak was the most likely cause, in their view, of the outbreak that led to the coronavirus pandemic. This may be true, of course, but I can’t help but fear for the strain it will once again bring out between China and the United States, and how some white Americans will treat their Chinese neighbors considering the news.

Social media has been a vector of fearmongering and has stoked xenophobic propaganda about the presumed aims of the Chinese government and China’s people. While I’m not here to absolve China’s government of their alleged human rights violations, I know that the most malicious actors among us want Americans to believe that every interaction we have with Chinese Americans, even in our daily lives, should be subject to scrutiny and suspicion.

Moral panics have ruled the American consciousness for decades, anywhere from the Satanic Panic of the 1980s to the recent conservative witch hunts leveled against LGBTQ people and the trans community. While China’s government is less than perfect, it would behoove the well-adjusted American citizen to be on the lookout for people trying to stoke the fires of xenophobia and fear to make a quick buck.