We are both Hokkien Chinese who wondered why we are hated in both Southeast Asia and the West. She opens the book with the murder of her aunt in the Philippines in 1994. The police weren’t interested in pursuing the suspects, and her relatives there let the case cold. She links the murder to the anti-Chinese riots in Indonesia in 1998, where she was advised to stay out of Jakarta during her stint with the World Bank.
World on Fire was the first blockbuster book that touched the May 1998 riots, and it became my bible throughout the 2000s. I bought the Time edition that features her “Tiger Mom” story. At that time, United States was in slump, and people wondered if the disciplined Chinese kids would overcome pampered American kids. By mid 2010s, the Yale professor had established a reputation as a race quack, as she and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, proposed the “Triple Package” theory - superiority complex, insecurity, and impulse control - to explain the success of some minority groups in United States.
Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice (it’s a lifetime membership) snowballed from an American feminist cause into a global issue, as the anti-abortion champion was also accused of participating in sexual assaults. Yale law professors signed a petition to halt Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, but Chua and Rubenfeld were not among the signatories.
I wanted to know why and to my surprise, Chua and Rubenfeld were under university investigation for allegation of grooming female students for Kavanaugh, telling them to “dress and act like a feminine model” to secure internship with him.
Chua wasn’t just indifferent to Kavanaugh – she supported his nomination. In July 2018, she wrote an opinion article in Wall Street Journal endorsing him. The sub-headline of the article is horrible in retrospective – “I can’t think of a better judge for my own daughter’s clerkship.”
You might have read articles outlining Kavanaugh’s sexist behaviors. One woman who at first stood with him retracted her support after it’s revealed that she was made into a running sex joke in Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook. Several feminists analyze that all the boasts about sexual conquests serve to bond the boys and increase their status. And it’s not just “teen hijinks” as his defenders claim – he still enforced this gentlemen’s pact of silence well into his time in George W. Bush’s legal team.
Chua was not the only woman of color supporting him. Islam’s critic Ayaan Hirshi Ali linked Wall Street Journal’s editorial with a two-words comment: “Confirm Kavanaugh.” She provided no further comment, but her critics believe it’s awful that she consistently argues for women’s rights and for atheism, and yet supporting a chauvinist backed by hardline Christians.
It’s simple to answer why white women consistently support Trump – they support white supremacy. It’s a bit more difficult to answer why men of color, like Kanye West, support Trump. Perhaps because they share his obsession with power and machismo, as well as his sexism.
So why do some women of color support Kavanaugh, if not Trump? There are several African-American women who build their fames by cheering Trump: Gun advocate Antonia Okafor, video bloggers “Diamond and Silk” (Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson), and conservative activist Candace Owens – who is lauded by Kanye West.
Asian Trumpers, meanwhile, are represented by three veteran conservatives: Columnist Michelle Malkin (who describes herself as a brown woman), Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley, and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, whose husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is among the most hated men in United States.
The motives of the Asian women are more straightforward: They believe in conservatism, Malkin and Haley are practicing Christians, and the career politicians follow their Republican party’s drive to the far right. Malkin is a strong opponent of immigration, despite being a child of immigrants.
The black women are aware of their identities, and use them for their advantages. They would deny that Republicans are racists, while claiming that critics against them are racist. They had condemned both Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements, and argued that real progress for African-Americans could be achieved through Republican values – conservatism and individualism. They claim that Democrats are the ones who hold back the social progress of African-Americans.
I also know some Indonesian-Americans who support Kavanaugh’s nomination, motivated by their Christianity. They see Hillary Clinton as a baby killer, and with Kavanaugh’s nomination now secured, they believe that the babies are saved. They also claim that refugee children detained by the American government are “illegal migrants”, and dismiss the prospect of deportation of Christian Indonesians in New Jersey and New Hampshire as “fake news”.
Luckily, all female Asian-American senators are Democrats and many of them stand for feminism. Senator Mazie Hirono had asked men to “shut up and step up” and stood with Christine Blasey Ford, who testified against Kavanaugh. A picture of Hirono and Senator Kamala Harris, who has Indian and Jamaican backgrounds, listening to Blasey Ford and then Kavanaugh, was used by white supremacists to signal harm – don’t let these women control America.
Chua and Hirshi Ali got what they wanted. Kavanaugh is in the Supreme Court thanks to the vote of white senator Susan Collins, and Wall Street Journal celebrates with a rape joke disguised as editorial – “Susan Collins Consents.” These women have assured that the American judiciary supports conservative values, be it anti-abortion, or libertarian economy, or white patriarchy.
American feminists are ready for their revenge, warning that “November [mid-term election] is coming.” Several women of color, overwhelmingly Democrats, are ready to lead American cities, counties, and states. It’s up to American voters to decide how their country will end up this year. As for Chua, even if she can keep her job at Yale, her reputation has been damaged for good.
What happens when your friends turn into religious fanatics? Also, follow @MarioRustan on Twitter.