Starting off with the often ridiculed 1998 hyperbole from writer Toni Morrison who decided that Bill Clinton was the nation's first black president, "Asian Pop" writer,Jeff Yang of the San Francisco Chronicle, has decided that Barack Obama could be the first "Asian American president" if elected in November. Apparently Yang is unaware of how much ridicule has been heaped upon Morrison, and deservingly so, and he is lining up for some smacking around himself with this outlandish Chronicle piece.
We all remember that Morrison claimed that Clinton was some sort of honorary black man in the 90s. Apparently, because Clinton payed attention to -- and incessantly pandered to -- the black power establishment in the 90s, that was all that was required for a race-graft. At least that almost makes some sense, if only metaphorically. Now Yang takes Morrison's loose connections one better, though. Apparently, all Obama has to have done to become an "Asian" is to have known some during his lifetime. After all, Obama is not known for being a politician constantly pandering to the Asian community like Clinton pandered to the black power structure. Does anyone recall Barack Obama sitting in a church as an Asian minister "God D_mns" America? But, why heck, he did grow up with a few Asian-like folks. So maybe there's a little sumpthin' in this!
After commenting on Morrison's absurdities, Yang goes on to moon over Obama.
In fact, reading Obama's absorbing 1995 memoir "Dreams from My Father," it strikes me that the tropes that surround and define Obama can just as easily be read as those of another community entirely. Which raises the question: Could it be that our true first black president might also be our first Asian American president?
Case closed. Obama is now neither white, nor black, but Asian.
So, how is it that Obama can be claimed an Asian instead of a black man? Let's run down Yang's bullet points...
- He was born in Hawaii, an island with a lot of Asians on it
- He lived in Jakarta, home of a lot of Asians
- His half-sister and her husband are Asian-Americans
- He hired a Chinese guy for his staff
Amazing is it not? Why it's almost as astounding as the Lincoln/Kennedy Coincidences... which are also bunk.
Then Yang tries to shoe horn Obama's life story into a story that will be "recognizable to many Asian Americans." Claiming that his interest in education and hard work proves he's really an Asian deep down. Yang does his best to take experiences that could describe the life of many different sorts of people and make of them the "Asian experience."
It's all very tenuous and silly when you get right down to it. Jeff Yang really is reaching for this one as he succumbs to the hero worship besotting the media.
So, this claim of Yang's has got me to thinking. My 12-year-old son has grown up with goldfish. His older brothers had some, as well. And, amazingly, I had goldfish as a kid, too. Does that make my boy a possible honorary goldfish should he run for the presidency sometime in the future? Just wondering.
(Photo credit: San Diego Asian Film Foundation)