This week, the leaders of a voter rights advocacy group announced that an organization founded by Stephen Miller, a former adviser with the Trump administration and Duke University graduate, has targeted Asian American voters across North Carolina with “hateful, racist mailers aimed at suppressing their vote and subduing the political power of the fastest-growing racial demographic in the state.”
In a Tuesday press release, said Chavi Khanna Koneru, the executive director of North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT) and NCAAT in Action, stated that the “racist and misleading mailers were sent by the Washington, D.C.-based, American First Legal Foundation (AFLF), the conservative organization founded by Trump confidant Stephen Miller.”
As the architect behind the Trump Administration’s notorious “cages for kids” policy that separated hundreds of children from their parents at the southwest border, “Miller has a long history of peddling racist hate and division against the vulnerable and underrepresented,” Koneru stated in the release.
NCAAT officials sent samples of the noxious mailers sent to voters here in North Carolina as well as Arizona, Virginia, California, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
“Biden And The Left Want To Decide Who Gets Hired, And Who Gets Fired According To Their Skin Color” reads one of the inflammatory mailers. “Even Pilots Will Be Chosen Based On Skin Color, Not Flying Ability.”
A second mailer insists that “Biden And Left-Wing Radicals are engaged in widespread racial discrimination against whites and Asian Americans…even though it’s against the law.”
“Now Hiring,” reads a third racist piece of drivel, followed by “requirements” that include a college degree, “may be Black or Latinx,” but “Whites and Asian Americans need not apply.”
The mailers note that recipients can “learn more at www.aflegal.org.”
According to the AFLF website, Miller is president of the nonprofit, which claims that is is “fighting back against lawless executive actions” and asserts that the nation’s “principles are now under attack like never before” by a “coordinated campaign” from “the radical left’s anti-jobs, anti-freedom, anti-faith, anti-borders, anti-police, and anti-American crusade.”
Miller and AFLF officials were not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
Koneru, in the press release notes that while anti-Asian sentiment emerged as a prominent feature across the political landscape in 2020, “this blatant piece of disinformation is the first time Asian Americans in North Carolina have been the target of suppression efforts around an election.”
Koneru said Miller’s AFLF, and the agency’s attempt to suppress voter turnout is partly in response to U.S. Census results that show “exponential growth” in the nation’s Asian American population.
“Here, in the battleground state of North Carolina, the Asian American voting bloc can determine the outcome of toss-up races statewide,” Koneru added.
The release also noted that digital and radio advertisements “have also popped up across the country, purposefully targeting multiple underrepresented groups including the Latinx, transgender, and Asian communities.”
The tactic, Koneru observed, “repurposes an old tactic historically used to drive a wedge between Asians and other racial communities of color in the United States.”
Koneru thinks the toxic mailers are evidence the country’s bad political actors fear Asian Americans’ growing political power.
“Asian Americans had record turnout in the 2020 election — 72 percent — and so far, Asian American early vote turnout is on track to exceed early vote turnout compared to the 2018 midterm elections,” Koneru stated in the release.
Koneru explained that “right-wing racist actors are exploiting the fact that Asian Americans have received limited voter contact by political parties by using manipulative ads to keep them from voting.”
The NCAAT director pointed to a recent poll jointly conducted by the nonprofit advocacy group and the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at UC San Diego, which found that well over 160,000 Asian American voters in North Carolina—61 percent— have never been contacted by any political party about this year’s election.
“These false ads could undermine the faith Asian American voters have in candidates this year and beyond,” Koneru said.
The racist and misleading mailers may have the opposite effect, and prompt more Asian Americans to cast ballots during this month’s midterm elections.
According to NCAAT’s poll, 50 percent of Asian Americans are more motivated to vote in this year’s election compared to previous elections, Koneru stated in the release.
“If Miller is targeting our communities to discourage us from voting in the midterm elections this year, then it’s not going to work,” said Allison Chan, a longtime Durham voter who received the postcard.
Meanwhile, Koneru says NCAAT will continue to call out and discredit disinformation that seeks to mislead and harm the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
“Asian Americans have stood resilient against attempts to suppress and silence us, and our community will come together to make our voices heard at the polls,” Koneru said.
Concerns or questions about voting can be addressed by calling NCAAT’s election protection hotline, 919-591-2442, which serves voters in over 20 different Asian languages.
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