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It legitimizes white America’s power to determine who is “good” and to offer basic dignity and equal rights.The model-minority myth exists alongside another dangerous and limiting idea — one that is consistent with the alt-right’s misogyny and core anti-feminist values.Richard Spencer, a white nationalist, has dated a series of Asian-American women, according to one of his ex-girlfriends. Spencer insists that it was before he embraced white nationalism.)The right-wing agitator Mike Cernovich, the writer John Derbyshire and an alt-right figure named Kyle Chapman (so notorious for swinging a lead-filled stick at Trump opponents at a protest in Berkeley, Calif., that he is now a meme) are all married to women of Asian descent.As a commenter wrote on an alt-right forum, “exclusively” dating Asian women is practically a “white-nationalist rite of passage.”In November 2016, a photo of Tila Tequila giving a Nazi salute went viral. Tequila is the Vietnamese-American star of the short-lived MTV reality show “A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila,” and she was saluting at a dinner the night before the conference of Richard Spencer’s white-supremacist think tank, the National Policy Institute. Spencer had reminded attendees that America was a “white country designed for ourselves and our posterity.”Maybe it makes sense that the alt-right is so confused: On a neo-Nazi news site, a user asked advice on whether he could be a white nationalist if he slept with East Asian women, and he received dozens of spirited responses from both sides.I knew I had succeeded when a friend remarked that I wasn’t really Asian, I was white, “because you’re cool.”As I skipped classes to smoke in the courtyard, read Baudelaire to seem the “interesting” kind of smart and attempted to distance myself from the stereotypes, I didn’t know that the idea I wanted to run from — of Asians as civilized, advanced and highly intelligent — had roots in white supremacy.But between the white supremacist Chris Cantwell’s tattoo of a Japanese character and the Charleston shooter Dylann Roof’s speculations that Asians “could be great allies of the white race,” there are echoes of history’s most infamous white nationalist.“I have never regarded the Chinese or the Japanese as being inferior to ourselves,” Adolf Hitler said in 1945.
Wu recounts in “The Color of Success.” Previously, Asian-Americans, many with humble roots in rural China, were considered degenerate, subject to lynchings, and forced to live in segregated neighborhoods and attend segregated schools under a regime of discriminatory laws and practices she has called a “cousin to Jim Crow.”But, according to Professor Wu’s research, Chinese-Americans promoted themselves as hard-working, obedient, family-oriented and able to easily assimilate into American life — traits that are not uncommon in poor immigrant communities, where many have made enormous sacrifices to move to a foreign place.Yet after I was called “white” at age 14, it felt, paradoxically, like a compliment to be nicknamed Geisha Girl by another friend, a well-meaning gay white boy. But the nickname became our inside joke, and it symbolized the kind of femininity that attracted the boys I liked, but that I have never really possessed. Since then, I have acted out in all manner of ways to dispel the “model minority” image.Still, I have never fully extinguished the belief that racking up an impressive lineup of achievements is the only way to gain respect.The stereotypes that feed the Asian-woman fetish are not exclusive to the far right.They exist across the political spectrum and infect every aspect of life — not just the bedroom — and manifest themselves in figures as distant from America as the blond-haired, blue-eyed heroes and hypersexualized heroines of Japanese anime.