But, as reflected in most intersections of policy and culture, an awkward dichotomy exists: Despite political friction, the connection between China and the American right has never been more public. China grows as the United States halts, representing both threat and opportunity for escapism. The New York Times published a widely-cited op-ed entitled “The Alt-Right’s Asian Fetish”, reconciling apparent contradiction between the racist ideology and Asian girlfriends of many major alt-right figures with an excessive buy-in to racial stereotypes, such as the model minority and exotification. In response to the NYT piece, other Asian-American writers stated that Lim’s analysis was incomplete, conveniently leaving out women’s agency. The truth, they argued, citing interviews with major alt-right figures including Vietnamese-American Tila Tequila, was more sinister—Asian countries represented the ethnostate and isolationism alt-righters desired for America. Its women were seen as products of seeming utopias, which was, for the women, a relief from the left’s characterization as political novices. The Atlantic cited a forum user in an article entitled “Why China Loves Trump,” who stated that today’s Democratic Party reminded him of the Cultural Revolution. Chinese opinion exists outside the realm of American respectability, as Trumpism—in strange but convincing logics—is equated to communism and Trump’s billionaire status is seen as commonplace. All of which works to place Asian-Americans, of whom 79 percent voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, in an awkward position. The irony asserts itself here: Very few administrations have centered on anti-China rhetoric the way Trump’s has, and very few electorates have loved Asia so much.
What outsiders seem not to know about New Jersey’s apparent shift to Republicanism when former Governor Chris Christie was elected nine years ago was the amount of points he gained for not being his predecessor, Jon Corzine. Corzine was the former CEO of Goldman Sachs; Christie was a local lawyer. Corzine apparently tried to sell the Turnpike; Christie was trying to convince people that overweight was not equivalent to overindulgent. Corzine tried to increase the sales tax rate; Christie was into lowering property taxes. The apparent inevitability of a Christie election was palpable even to my seventh-grade self—as my government, biology, and English teachers implored us to convince our parents to vote for the third-party Chris Daggett—anybody but Christie, who was bound to cut our township’s funding by millions of dollars in favor of charter schools.
Maybe I’m too young to reach the same conclusion Hilton Als did after viewing Moonlight for the first time and before beginning his essay in the New Yorker with the words, “Did I ever imagine, during my anxious, closeted childhood, that I’d live long enough...?” but I did. I skipped a formal on Monday and slipped on the T to Davis. Then I watched a movie entitled Gook. I was stunned when it finished because I, too, had never thought I’d ever see this film. A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I had viewed Moonlight as an end because I could never imagine its yellow equivalent, a film based on “yellow beauty, precision, and rhythm.” Oh, but it’s no longer the end. It’s a beginning, and God, what a beginning we have.
In middle school, the summer before eighth grade, a pair of black kids, rumored fresh from Newark, moved to the purple house across the street, along with their cop mother, single uncle, and more. I didn’t talk to them, since I was under house arrest until I redeemed myself from failing summer school algebra II (no, it didn’t matter that I didn’t know algebra I yet, money was paid, mistakes were made, and our real estate agent’s son already knew calculus) but when July got too sticky, I’d watch them through the living room window. They played football on the street, while their uncle sat on the step smoking. When school started, they ripped the place up in a similar way. When an Asian playing Ninja took out his air gun and shot, one of them told him he was doing it wrong, showed him the right way, and said he knew because his mom was a cop. We got off at the same bus stop and walked on opposite sides of the streets. We didn’t talk, but we were friendly. They once chased down a dog my sister was running away from while I laughed in the corner. Then my family moved two blocks away and I never saw them again, except occasionally at school. There were so few black kids in my hometown that they stood as concepts formed by media, history books, and music, more than real people, especially to the Asian kids, who collectively ate, did calculus, debated Ravel vs. Debussy, and sucked up to biology teachers, separate from even the white kids.
Philanthrocapitalism is the new buzz word on campus. It makes sense, as when presented with the options of either getting rich or being a good person arise, it’s difficult not to answer, uh, both. After the term was coined in 2006 by The Economist as the effort to make philanthropy look more like for-profit capital markets, some rising stars in the field were Bill Gates, who made his own charitable foundation tackling problems with global health, as well as Mark Zuckerberg, who promised to donate 99% of his profits from Facebook to charity and who has already donated millions of dollars to the Newark public school system. They’re not old leaders conquering new regimes; they’re innovators reshaping how the public sector works, rectifying the inefficiencies that really plague how well-intentioned, but antiquated, social programs work. They are social investors, venture philanthropists, and good maximizers—the real superstars. Philanthrocapitalism is a fancy, novel, academic way for the bourgeoisie to be good too. And don’t we all have the right, the freedom, to be good, the way we want to be, regardless of what we want to do? I didn’t think so either.