Over the Labor Day weekend, a comic book superhero set box office records.
No surprise there. The Marvel Universe (represented here) and the DC Universe (on deck somewhere) regularly blow up their cinematic competition.
Labor Day weekend was a bit different. The dominating movie was “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” The hero, Shang-Chi, is Chinese. The story line concerns his quest. Most of the major cast members are of Asian heritage.
Take that, you narrow-minded haters!
At a time when hate crimes against Asian Americans are skyrocketing, many Americans flocked to see an Asian hero.
The following week on Good Morning America, Fala Chen, one of the “Shang-Chi” stars indicated how “meaningful” the turnout was to the Asian American community “after a whole year of the rise the anti-Asian hate, not only in this country but all around the world.”
Much of that hatred was fueled by Donald Trump, then parroted by other Republicans who repeatedly call COVID-19 “the China Virus” or “the Wuhan virus.”
Remember this: fascists need scapegoats to blame. Hating is easier than taking constructive action.
Poet Cathy Song reminds us: “’Yellow peril’ is on the rise. Fear of it never dies. With our slanted eyes, yellow skin, we never did fit in.”
Last month, the organization Stop Asian American Pacific Island Hate documented “9,081 firsthand complaints between March 19 of last year and June 30,” as reported by CNN’s Nicole Chavez.
She added, “The majority of the incidents — about 63.7 percent — were cases of verbal harassment, while shunning or avoidance made up about 16.5 percent. About 13.7 percent of the incidents involved physical assaults.”
And, of course, 63.3 percent of our brave haters targeted women, including many elderly.
And the hate speech continues. Early this month, Kansas GOPQ Sen. Roger Marshall bloviated about helping Americans sue the Chinese Communist Party because of COVID-19.
He has no problem with his party’s president lying about the virus disappearing right after he had been told otherwise. No problem with the same president working counter to every health recommendation proposed by experts. No problem with Republican governors continuing their coronavirus death cult.
It has been estimated that about half of the more than 650,000 American COVID-19 deaths could have been averted had these Republicans given two hoots and a hello about their constituents – who, listening to them, now dominate the death statistics. (Yeah, some of those governors are lying about those statistics, too.)
And, while Stop AAPI Hate reported more than 9,000 anti-Asian attacks, the “official” hate crime stats from the FBI showed a jump in Asian targets from 161 to 274.
As another August CNN story points out, “These (FBI) statistics are likely a vast undercount because law enforcement agencies are not required to submit their data to the FBI for their annual crime report. There are more than 18,000 agencies in the United States and more than 3,000 did not submit their crime statistics in 2020.
“The FBI’s data may also be incomplete because in some jurisdictions, local prosecutors, not police, decide what is charged as a hate crime. The federal government does not collect hate crime statistics from local prosecutors or courts.”
Yet, amid a full-swing, rightwing-orchestrated, anti-Asian hate campaign, Americans have flocked to the theaters to celebrate an Asian superhero.
Nothing speaks louder in this country than money. Heading into its third weekend, Shang-Chi had earned $256 million in box office revenue.
With the Republicans’ coronavirus indifference killing off its traditional voters at an alarming rate, perhaps they should take a look at the box office and see that most Americans don’t share their bigotry.
(Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: scdpok.us or facebook.com/SCDPOK/.)