In recent weeks, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Virginia Corey Stewart has repeatedly attacked Sen. Tim Kaine for supporting higher education policies that discriminate against Asian Americans. As a timely backdrop, Harvard University is defending its admissions policy in court today. The Trump Administration and plaintiffs also accuse Harvard of discriminating against Asian Americans.
Frankly, I am getting tired of this misleading line of attack. It is a calculated effort by Corey Stewart to divide the AAPI community over a known wedge issue and pit minority communities against each other. It would be hard to fathom someone like Corey who shares Trump’s hardline positions opposing immigrants and minorities to suddenly take an interest in my well-being. I did not see Corey Stewart at Dulles Airport protesting the Muslim Ban or defending Dreamers, which include many Asian immigrant students.
But I am not surprised by Corey’s interest in this matter. To be clear, this effort is not led or about Asian Americans, but rather conservative activists who oppose policies that encourage diversity and inclusion.
Sadly this is just the latest iteration where Asian Americans are caught in the middle. The facts speak for themselves: Asian Americans are actually doing really well. Since 2010, the number of Asian Americans accepted to Harvard has increased by 27 percent, and Asian Americans now comprise 23 percent of the incoming class of 2022.
Like the vast majority of students, Asian American students and alumni from Harvard strongly embrace the intellectual and racial diversity of the campus. I certainly did as a Harvard graduate student who benefited from a full tuition scholarship. Harvard believed it was important to see someone like me represented in American politics one day.
As a civil rights lawyer, Sen. Tim Kaine understands the importance of diversity, inclusion and representation in American society. It is one of the reasons why Asian Americans have widely supported Tim Kaine and will do so again at the polls on Nov. 6.
Clarence Tong is a MPP graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School and chair of the Alexandria Democrats.