Change The Script

Ryan Brooks, Assistant News Editor

The actors may change, the directors might switch, the audience will vary, but the story will always remain the same. That is, unless we change the script.

Who were the actors of yore? Well, the 19th-century gave us American protestants, who came to America 200 years prior from England, as they felt they were being persecuted and discriminated against solely because of how they worshiped god.

So, when Irish, Polish, Italian and other Catholics from Europe commenced in their voyage to America in the mid 19th century, surely the American protestants, no stranger to being ostracized, welcomed these Catholics with open arms?

Of course, that was not in the script; the directors had other plans. In this context, these directors were the leaders of the Know-Nothing party, an anti-catholic xenophobic political party. They organized the actors, middle and lower class American protestants, to hate the others who were coming to harm them, the European Catholics.

The script never changes.

On December 7th, 1941, America, by no choice of its own, joined World War 2 after being attacked by the Japanese Empire at Pearl Harbor, leading President Franklin Roosevelt to utter the famous line that the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Contrary to those words, the actors of the time, white Americans on the pacific coast, feared the Japanese and other Asian Americans living among them.

It is no surprise then that Franklin Roosevelt and other politicians orchestrated the scene, rounding up Japanese Americans across the country and placing them into internment camps.

I needn’t discuss the rhetoric and actions aimed at Muslim Americans following 9/11, or the now decades-long quest by some directors on the right to ostracize Spanish immigrants fleeing broken countries.

The examples presented exemplify the foundational framework of the centuries-long script: find a vulnerable community of people, spread fear about them and then watch the movie unfold while reaping the benefits.

Now, we look to Asian Americans once more, who are again the antagonist of the movie.

I harbor no illusions as to who bores the blame. Former President Trump and his band of propagandists, who insisted on calling the Coronavirus the “Kung flu” and “China Virus” play a pivotal role in this all.

After months of Trump and his allies spewing this rhetoric, Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate reported 1,800 anti-Asian hate claims, with Asian Americans reporting being spit on, called racial slurs, and harassed.

Perhaps the American people finally had their eyes opened for them following the killing of several Asian American women in Atlanta, Georgia, or maybe after an Asian American woman was kicked and beaten outside of a store in New York City.

There is a saying that discrimination is as American as apple pie and baseball, and there may be some truth in that. However, that does not have to be the case.

Already, thousands of civil rights and racial equity groups have committed to organize and protest to ensure Asian Americans are treated with dignity and feel safe in their own country.

CCSU even has committed to exploring initiatives aimed at helping Asian Americans recover from this period of hate.

Ultimately, to break this cycle of discrimination and flip the script, those in the audience who usually watch from the sidelines, the passive members of American society, must take a stand whenever and wherever a group faces otherization.

United is when good defeats evil and the directors of fear lose their power. This is the task of our generation: let us rise to it.