In the days leading up to California’s midterm election, many Asian American voters across the state and the country have been targeted with racist and deceitful mailers and digital ads aimed at spreading disinformation. Conservatives are using these tactics to confuse our communities, suppress our vote, and discourage us from participating in our multiracial democracy. This right-wing disinformation campaign is anti-Asian hate.
Asian American communities are being targeted because we are vital to winning political races nationwide. This is true in California where we’ve witnessed political campaigns aggressively court Asian American voters. Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations in California know this, which is why we’ve been working together for decades to ensure that our communities have a voice—so that when power-hungry, greedy, and hateful extremists attempt to speak for us, we shut them down.
These targeted mailers and ads are part of a coordinated national campaign by the conservative organizations America First Legal Foundation and Citizens for Sanity, both founded by former Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller. Miller is notoriously known as the driving force behind the Trump administration’s racist and anti-immigrant agenda. He continues to utilize fearmongering, transphobia, and xenophobia to influence elections across the country. America First Legal Foundation and Citizens for Sanity have poured over $33 million to distribute these ads to mislead and discourage communities of color from voting.
Conservative groups have a long history of employing divisive rhetoric to suppress voter turnout. Most recently, they have created disinformation about racial equity, affirmative action, and anti-Asian hate to cause confusion and division within our communities. These are weak attempts at revising history.The disinformation ad campaigns blatantly lie about the origins of increased anti-Asian hate crimes, attempting to manipulate our pain and fear for political gain. In reality, former President Trump’s racist comments against Chinese people escalated the rise in anti-Asian violence. These same sentiments continue to be used in red-baiting efforts that wrongfully blame Asians for economic insecurity. A recent report shows that this kind of racial scapegoating increases anti-Asian hate. The campaigns also attack Affirmative Action, despite AAPI communities benefiting greatly from Affirmative Action and a majority of Asian communities supporting Affirmative Action policies. Further, the spectacular use of violent images in the ads is a shameful attempt to pit Asian Americans and Black communities against each other. We refuse to be tools for division and white supremacy.
Timmy Lu, Executive Director of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Civic Empowerment Education Fund (AAPI FORCE-EF) says: “These cynical and crude ads try to use our people’s real pain and suffering for their own gain, not ours. They perpetuate anti-Asian hate through words and images that create more division and treat us as victims and political pawns. It’s clear the authors of these ads fear the power that AAPIs have when we build unity with Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities in our neighborhoods and across the country. But our work in engaging AAPI voters shows we won’t buy what they’re selling.”We will not let hateful rhetoric distract from the work that our communities are doing to get out the vote and fight for a better California for all. Asian American and Pacific Islanders for Civic Empowerment Education Fund’s network of grassroots power-building organizations across the state have phoned 265,063 households and knocked on 6,830 doors in over 80 GOTV events since September.
These organizations mobilize youth, tenants, workers, and elders to phonebank and door-knock in over 10 Asian and Pacific Islander languages. Our GOTV campaign provides voter information in 10 AAPI languages and encourages voters to exercise their right to vote. And as a member of The Million Voters Project, we build power to strengthen and expand democracy alongside Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities in California. This disinformation campaign is yet another attempt by conservative forces to derail elections across the country by using fearmongering, xenophobia, and by inciting racial conflict. These tactics are a form of hate that hurts all communities of color.
They point their fingers at everyone except the true villains attempting to limit our political power: Wealthy corporations and billionaires who back extremist politicians and the right-wing forces that attempt to undermine our democracy.
We will not let them. Election Day is Nov. 8. Together, let’s vote as a FORCE for our families and friends all over the state. Vote for a better future for California.