Emil Guillermo: Paris Accord pullout? Trump's twitter logorrhea impacts our political climate even more; and a Podcast on our community conundrum: Are South Asians really Asian?

June 5, 2017 9:30 PM

Too much terror, too much news. And the really important event of last week--Trump's nose- thumbing at world unity on climate change by pulling out of the Paris Accord-- is practically forgotten. 

Not that Trump would like us to dwell on that.

That was a classic Trump communication boner.

The Washington Post Fact-Checker, co-written by Michelle Ye Hee Lee with Glenn Kessler, pointed out Trump's basic misunderstanding of the accord. It's a non-binding deal. He can change Obama's goals on his own. That's a kind of deal the slippery Trump should love.

But his misreading of the accord led to wrong assumptions, like whether China and India could end up building more coal plants than the U.S. No, they can't. In fact, China has just curtailed more than 100 coal plants this year. Truth is optional with The Donald. He made up his mind on the Paris Accord with the wrong facts. 

Being morally wrong is bad enough. It's worse when it's compounded by being factually wrong.

And that was just a few Trump misstatements from last week's accord pull-out speech.

It was just the pre-weekend warmup.

After the London terrorist attacks, Trump's tweets turn out to be a lot more dangerous than any greenhouse gas--to the political climate.

Maybe the president needs better pictures to understand the issues. He got things completely wrong when it came to London's Mayor Sadiq Khan, who was trying to calm his city after the latest attacks. The mayor told his citizenry not to get alarmed by the massive police presence.

Khan wasn't downplaying terrorism.

Trump, of course, totally misunderstood and had to tweet it out.

"At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is 'no reason to be alarmed!'" Trump said in a tweet, misconstruing the statement of Mayor Khan.

Another tweet was more offensive. "Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his "no reason to be alarmed" statement. MSM [mainstream media] is working hard to sell it!"

And then he used the occasion to further advocate for his travel ban, because in Trump-think, if we banned Muslims we could stop terrorism. Only this time ,Trump was unequivocal in his belligerence and xenophobia.

"People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!"

The caps are all Trump's.

This is the kind of misunderstanding that can lead to real tragedy--armed conflicts, major wars.

Even conservatives are starting to indicate that a Trump Twitter intervention may be needed. After Kellyanne Conway defended the president on morning TV by trying to downplay the tweets, her husband, Filipino American attorney George Conway, was appealing to the level-headed.

"These tweets may make some ppl feel better, but they certainly won't help OSG [Office of the Solicitor General] get 4 votes in SCOTUS, which is what actually matters. Sad."

Yes. Sad. 

Trump stands by Twitter as a way to talk directly to the people. But that's precisely why journalists must cover the statements and take them seriously. Surely, world leaders are concerned about the uncensored thoughts coming through Trump's twitter logorrhea.

That's the precise word for it.

We should all be concerned. 

Trump isn't the only one with a xenophobia issue. In some alarming findings, the 2016 National Asian American Survey found that many non-Asians don't think South Asians are Asian American. 

Worse, many in our own big tent group, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, don't think so either. That's the subject of this week's podcast.

Jennifer Lee, Columbia University sociology professor and Karthick Ramakrishnan, Dean of Public Policy at UC Riverside,  published the findings in The Society Pages.

Most whites, blacks, and Latinos held the view that only East Asians from China, Japan, and Korea were Asian American.

Filipinos were tweeners, with anywhere from 15 to 17 percent of different groups thinking Filipinos weren't Asians. (Maybe Mexicans?)

But ask all groups about Indians and Pakistanis from South Asia, and Arabs and Middle Eastern people from Central and West Asia, and embarrassingly large numbers don't see them as Asian American at all.

Among whites, 41 percent said Indians are not likely to be Asian American, and 45 percent didn't see Pakistanis as Asian American. 


Here's the jawdropper. Even among Asians, the numbers who didn't see Indians or Pakistanis as Asian American were in the 30-40 percent range.

It's actually very Trump-like of the Asian Americans surveyed.

You'll recall the February murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, the Kansas City tech engineer who was allegedly gunned down at a suburban bar by Adam Purinton, 51, a Navy veteran and former air traffic controller, who saw Kuchibhotla and yelled, "Get out of my country."

That was on Feb. 22. 

It took six days before the president even acknowledged it in a brief mention in his joint speech before Congress.

It could have been an opportunity for real leadership. But everything the president has done has emboldened violent white nationalists. We saw it recently with the violent stabbings in Portland. And certainly we saw it in Kansas City when Kuchibhotla was gunned down.

At the time, I thought the murder would galvanize the broader community of 21 million Asian Americans to stand up united against the hateful political sentiments of Steve Bannon being channeled through Trump and that's been empowering folks like Adam Purinton.

And now, because of the insights of the survey on how we see ourselves, I know why it didn't.

"To fail to see Indians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis as Asian--especially when they see themselves as such--is to silence their voices," wrote Lee and Ramakrishnan in the Society Pages. "It also risks promoting an incomplete portrait of Asian Americans that ignores more threatening, dangerous and even deadly forms of anti-Asian discrimination."

Jennifer Lee called it "drawing boundaries on Asian America." 

Or maybe a wall?

That NAAS research shows it's happening, and that in a serious way, Asian Americans have our own sense of xenophobia.

Like Trump, we fear each other.

We're just not tweeting about it as much as he does. Listen to my interview with Lee on the East Asian/South Asian divide and the findings of the survey on our podcast, Emil Amok's Takeout.

*     *     *
Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.

Posted by:Emil Guillermo

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views or policies of AALDEF.


1. Interesting but not surprising among and between people of color; more interesting would be the responses about "Who is an American if not Asian American?" particularly when approaching 1.0 and 1.5 generation Asian immigrants compared to 2.0 and even 3.0 generation of their sons and daughters, then comparing their responses and findings with long time residents of diverse backgrounds.
Posted by: sjx | Jun 7, 2017 3:54 PM

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