Hoo boy. Orange County’s piss-ass homeless shelter nimbyism has reached the judicial override stage, and it is not pretty. A federal judge, David O. Carter, has partially asserted dictatorial emergency powers over the county government and a number of city governments to compel the approval of shelter sites and enjoin the enforcement of vagrancy laws in the interim. This isn’t a case of the judiciary lording it over the legislature and the citizenry for fun; it’s a proportional, and quite patient, assertion of the human rights of a marginalized, impoverished citizen constituency against a powerful, violently hostile constituency that defines itself by property rights as property owners, not by civil rights as citizens. What the judge is telling the local officials and the propertied agitators driving their intransigence is that they have dragged their feet for far too long on the establishment of adequate rehousing facilities for the residents of the homeless encampments that they are so eager to raze and that they have absolutely no latitude to criminalize the existence of their indigent neighbors to protect their own property rights and precious, precious feelings.
There’s a really ugly ethnic angle to this dispute, one that the white liberal consensus in California finds too uncomfortable to name, but as a homeless honky native to Palo Alto and registered to vote in Sacramento County, I’ll be damned if I’ll be guilt-tripped into holding my peace about it. It’s the fucking Chinese. They’ve behaving execrably. A clannish, racialized, affluent, propertied rabble of immigrants and their children are petulantly trying to criminalize the existence of a native lumpenproletariat, most of the latter from families that have been in what is now the United States since time immemorial.
That’s ethnic cleansing if it happens in Yugoslavia, and it’s ethnic cleansing if it happens here. A bunch of haughty rich asshole foreigners moved in en masse from overseas, established a colonial settlement, and are now sore as hell that the inherent vices of their neighborhood include their native-stock birthright citizen neighbors, whom they defame wholesale as filthy criminals who depress their property values. We now have to listen to these thugs and their spawn, whose family money does not generally come from scrupulously licit sources, carry on about how they’re blameless and worthy and it’s only the native proles whose shit stinks.
There is something dysfunctional about any society where a racialized settler population feels able to lash out in this fashion without fear of retaliatory pogroms. Chinese money, again, from a variety of questionable sources, has driven a good deal of the housing bubble that has made it impossible for the native poor to afford housing in Orange County. This isn’t some insurmountable natural law; the crooked upper crust of a systemically corrupt nation in the early stages of industrialization fled overseas with its wealth and parked it in real estate in a handful of markets that it found culturally and legally hospitable, one of these (a relatively modest one, in fact) being Orange County. This is crude ethnic gangsterism, but with more bigotry than the old Irish, Italian, and Jewish mobsters indulged in their more magnanimous years. The proposition that a cohort of rich, grasping Chinamen who hate the everloving shit out of the peasants back home give a hot damn about the high ideals of ethnic and socioeconomic pluralism of their adoptive land is insulting. This is one of the most illiberal, intolerant populations ever to have landed on our shores.
What do I suppose I’d try to do if I were in their shoes? For starters, I’d try not to act like a raging fucking asshole colonial settler-bigot begging for banishment to the Breslau Ghetto as an unassimilable scion of an incorrigible ethnic crime family. I’m not Jewish enough for temple, but I’m Jewish enough to take care not to be a fucking shanda fur die goyim. This bourgeois ethnic cleansing bullshit in Orange County isn’t the first time propertied overseas Chinese have behaved in ways that called to mind the all-time worst of Europe’s Jews and grievously tested the tolerance of the native ethnic majority in their host nations. Everything that I’ve read about the overseas Chinese indicates that California’s 21st-century native stock is reacting to these provocations with a level of goodwill, patience, and magnanimity that the ethnic Thais and Malays have not historically shown their ancestors in Southeast Asia.
We have no special national duty or, God help us, regional moral duty as a liberal sanctuary state, to be the only host population on the face of the earth to act like this shit is fucking Sesame Street. This right here is the episode in which a foreign lynch mob that had no connections to the neighborhood a decade or two ago tries to burn Oscar alive in his trash can to clean up the neighborhood. There’s some nice happy horseshit at the base of the Statue of Liberty about the tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and my great-grandfather embezzled from his employer in the East End of London to buy a cabin across the Atlantic and the direct admission at the Battery that came with it, but tired, huddled, and breathless ain’t who’s jacking up the cost of housing in the OC, cracka.
If we have sacred values to defend, we might want to consider that this overseas gentrification jet set is too fucking illiberal to share these values, which presumably include allowing those already present in the neighborhood as birthright citizens to live peaceably without being ethnically cleansed by Johnny-come-lately interlopers from families that bought their way into the country. They’re the ones who showed up out of the blue and used money to muscle their way into existing communities with no regard for the welfare or even survival of the neighbors they displaced. They’re the ones who expect native-stock children to compete like their lives depend on it for college admissions and jobs, but without the tight ethnic networks to grease the skids before them.
I’m sure some concern-trolls will preen about how I’m trying to launch a reprise of the Chinese Exclusion Act. That isn’t what’s happening here. The dynamics have flipped. The native stock driving Chinese exclusion in the nineteenth century were bigoted as all hell, and the Chinese they were so hellbent on driving out of the land were peasants, piss-poor, marginalized immigrants who would have been grievously oppressed by their social betters back home had they stayed. What we have now is an affluent native stock that bends over backwards to be tolerant towards an even more affluent and networked immigrant community while the latter takes the lead in efforts to commit the wholesale official oppression of the poorest old-stock Americans in their neighborhoods and drive them east of Eden, or at least east of Corona.
The non-indigent old-liners who might otherwise be upset by this foreign aggression against their fellow citizens, to wit, Americans from long-established families whose ancestors did not purchase residency within living memory, prefer to pretend that none of this ethnic unpleasantness is happening. Well, guess what, white girl? It is happening.
Sure, the Chinese have bourgeois white allies in their fight to bar the door against the riffraff, fancy crackers whose class interests overlap with their own and whose other nimby interests include the adamant belief that El Toro is a terrible place for an airport. Still, they’re further emboldened by the residual hopes or assent or God only knows exactly what of downwardly mobile native-stock young people who were raised to believe in and still refuse to disbelieve every bit of American Experience-ass bleeding-heart horseshit about how we worked through all the bad shit, like, fifty years ago and all get along now. This has the potential to cause some hardcore cognitive dissonance as a foreign population, raised in a dramatically different cultural, political, and civic context with nothing but contempt for the welfare of the marginalized poor, buys its way into a civic stake that it aggressively uses to harass its neediest neighbors.
I’m afraid that this situation really is as crude and ugly as I’m chronicling it. Some of the worst colonial aggression on earth today is coming from the Chinese. The birth hotels in the San Gabriel Valley, a fairly seedy area by overseas Chinese standards, cater to families wealthy enough to afford airfare and long-term lodging for their unemployed expectant mothers. The current Chinese diaspora in Vancouver includes absolute Gulf Arab Eurotrash-grade degenerates who drive their sports cars across toll bridges at triple the speed limit on licenses in bad standing. These asshats and their families have dumped so much cash into the local housing market that the cops who pull them over can hardly afford rent on the Lower Mainland.
These shitheads are not typical Chinese. That would be like insisting that the shittiest yuppies in Central Bucks or North Jersey are typical Americans. If a diaspora of that character took over, say, Tijuana and jacked up the cost of housing beyond what any Mexican of normal means could afford, I’d angrily disavow them as their compatriot. I already can’t fucking stand pig-ignorant Tri-State money wops who condescendingly talk about “percent diversity” at their alma maters like their families have always been High Whitey when my own grandparents were denied public accommodations because they were taken for Jews. If such a constituency were overheating housing markets abroad and doing everything in their civic power to demean and expel the natives they’d already dispossessed with their housing bubble, it would be a national scandal. We’ve got a few goldbug-intersectional bourgeois-supremacist Yanqui fuckwads kicking around Latin America in a spirit of superiority, along with a handful of serious high rollers rich enough to buy bugout spreads in New Zealand, but as asshole emigrants go, we’re pikers compared to High Chinky.
The Chinese we do get in our affluent cities are not looking to play by our most scrupulous rules. They wouldn’t have the money to expatriate anywhere decent if that were how they rolled. Scrupulosity is not how fortunes are made in post-Deng Mainland China. Honorebly feel my balzac for more universal insights into great fortunes and forgotten crimes, but je me fouquine souviens this much about the PRC in particular: that its industrialization as a major exporter in the late twentieth century involved levels of corruption well in excess of the norms in Japan and the industrialized West. We, the greatest nation on earth and shit, started reverting towards our own historic Gilded Age crookedness around the time we started our serious trade with China; the prior standards from which we were, by Bork, slouching towards Gomorrah were of a much higher caliber than what China’s industrialists and their apparatchik cronies adopted. Likewise, it’s safe to assume that a great deal of the money overheating housing markets in the old British colonies (crikey, you mates, too), was expatriated prior to or in deliberate circumvention of the Chinese Politburo’s big anti-corruption drives.
No, this doesn’t account for the entire Chinese diaspora. There are decent people trying to honorably find better lives for themselves and their families who have the misfortune to share an ethnic community with a bunch of belligerent loudmouths pushing a moral panic about the dirty gaijin infesting the place they now call home. This is not enviable. Still, there’s a really disturbing appearance that the entire barrel is being spoiled by the bad apples who speak so loudly on the community’s behalf. I just get a really bad feeling about some of the communal dynamics here, that there are decent people whose personal inclinations are towards tolerance but who are more eager to be buddies with the shittiest social climbers from back home than to stand up for the despised vulnerable. Assimilated members of the first birthright generation must be in a particularly unenviable spot, wondering why the fuck mom and dad are such lunatic bigots.
What I really hate is the appearance that some of the most vicious immigrants a nation could ever admit have successfully hacked our code and turned it against us. At the risk of going full Goldwater, we’re tolerating the intolerant, and that’s no virtue. Actually, it’s even worse than that, and seedier. We’re granting some of our richest immigrants bogus victim points based on atrocities that some of our worst native-stock ancestors committed generations ago against peasants whom the current model minority we so zealously defend would enthusiastically treat just as badly back in the old country. More than a few of us are being over-the-top solicitous towards crooks who buy their failspawn driver’s licenses and academic slots beyond their normal meritorious qualification because we think one of our shithead great-great-grandpas once Marky Mark-style beat the shit out of some coolie. Maybe that happened, or maybe it didn’t, but regardless, it’s a part of our national middle-highbrow lore now. This sure looks like white guilt on behalf of a pushy ethnic clan that will never even try to reciprocate this bent-over-backwards graciousness. We can tell what they’re saying about us in English in public, but many of them are bilingual and have use of ethnically segregated private spheres. Mandarin must be a useful language in which to express one’s amazement at the whitefellas for being a bunch of utter goddamned fools.
By the way, there’s a special place in purgatory for our own goody-two-shoes Orientalist Brahmins and their socially climbing hangers-on. These are as American as apple pie and driving all the chinks out of Frisco. I’ve long had this really unsettling feeling that the open fascination of a large swath of the American upper crust with the outward trappings of Asian culture, a fascination dating back in earnest to the days of Crocker and Stanford, did much to drive the Great Value crackers into their infamous fits of violent anti-Asian rage, first against the Chinese in the nineteenth century and then against the Japanese during the Second World War. The appearance that we’ve been using indigent neighborhood laundry operators as political pawns and battering rams in our own insipid domestic class standoffs since at least the conclusion of our Civil War (you know, the one we held to deal with the whole racial thing) must infuriate Asian observers and convince them that we’re all absolutely reprehensible.
If they’re colonizing our neighborhoods in a spirit of contempt for the poor neighbors whose fellow citizens they seek to become and their US-born children already are, it isn’t without provocation. There is a certain gross reciprocity to the whole enterprise. We certainly don’t have much moral authority if our own bourgeoisie celebrate Asian shiznit as a way to passive-aggressively showcase model minority designer immigrants to the recalcitrant poor as reminders that they’re disposable and replaceable.
Free tea and dumplings at the Irvine Metrolink station in observance of the Chinese New Year? Fuck off, yuppie scum. I can make my own goddamn hot and sour soup.
No, I don’t feel good for having written this. I feel gross. But it has to be said. A pushy, clannish immigrant constituency driving the native stock out of the neighborhood it has colonized is no occasion for tolerance. It’s an invasive horde. It should be given no quarter. Like hell I’m here to celebrate their immigrant story when they’re behaving so rottenly and in such bad faith and I, a native Californian, am sleeping in my Focus again. God, it must be really alienating to live in Irvine as an affluent member of the neighborhood ethnic majority.
So, no, I don’t mind gloating over their being a federal judge’s bitch. They brought it upon themselves. Judge Carter gave Orange County’s municipal governments all kinds of time to fix a human rights disaster that they’d caused, and instead of making a bona fide, adult effort to fix it, they caved to pressure from their worst constituents and did jack shit. The last thing I’m willing to excuse is a bunch of calculating foreign-stock shitheads whimpering like Otto Warmbier because they’re subject to the jurisdiction of the federal courts of the country where they chose to immigrate, like they have any cause to be upset. We have a judiciary precisely to restrain such graceless thugs when they take over elected governments and pervert due process to their private ends. That’s privilege. My using language like money chink to smear bad people who probably call me white devil or some shit in private is not.
The only other thing I’ll say about this is that I want the eventual PBS documentary about this spat to prominently feature the same spare, poignant fiddle music that Ken Burns used for the Lewis and Clark story. I reckon those motherfuckers were more racist than I am, and since this shit is already absurd, I demand that it be aesthetically absurd. No, I have one more demand: that the accompaniment be performed by an all-American bum, of whatever race (even a drop of Chinese blood would be epic), who took up the violin at the age of, like, forty, not by some fucking asshole who clawed into the principal’s chair in the high school orchestra in an effort to secure admission to Wellesley. As Wesley Willis, neither of him a reach school, might have said, GO DIPLOMATS BITCH!
Damned if that isn’t the most wholesome character to wander into this story yet. That’s what happens when you’re told that you have to stop yelling like a wild animal in the Genesis on Western. His problem was that he didn’t clean up well enough to yell like a wild animal in the Irvine City Council chambers.