Shrugging at “Coco Chow”

How do you even write about Trump’s anti-Asian racism at this point? 

Rod Lamkey/ZUMA

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Maybe it makes sense that “DEATH WISH” was the part that garnered headlines. After all, a record of inciting real-life violence renders such a message concerning.

But even as someone who’s on the payroll to keep abreast of the relentless garbage, I didn’t catch the Coco Chow bit until well after a solid day later. It came as the second beat of Donald Trump’s message lashing out at Mitch McConnell, when the former president and forever frontrunner of the GOP called the Senate minority leader’s partner, Elaine Chao, a “China-loving wife, Coco Chow.” Neither Chao nor McConnell have responded to the overtly racist slur directed at the Taiwanese-born former transportation secretary. I found it while mindlessly stumbling across what Rick Scott thought about the whole thing. (Not much, by the way.) Most write-ups obscured it to the final lines of the news cycle. 

Coco Chow is tired and unimaginative, something you expected from the outcast uncle at Thanksgiving. But the collective shrug has grated at me. Sure, we all wagged fingers at “Chinese virus and Kung Fu Flu,” racist rhetoric that deeply inflamed anti-Asian violence during the height of the pandemic. But a meh response to garbage like Coco Chow—duly relegated to the second beat of an unhinged post published on a floundering social media platform—is another entry into the generally underwhelming attention paid to Trump’s more casual bouts of racism: his utterances of “China,” a pronunciation so exaggerated and bizarre, yet always seemed to go under the radar; asking the “pretty Korean lady” where she’s from; his public mockery of Asian accents

How do you even write about Trump’s racism at this point? Does doing so benefit him? I’m not sure. But McConnell and the rest of the GOP seem intent, in fact perfectly well-suited, on extending the very American tradition of ignoring anti-Asian racism. 

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