Thirty-six-year-old Chen Fengzhu is the latest Internet sensation in China, except she doesn’t live in China. She is a seafood restaurant owner who lives in Gwinnet County, Georgia. Surveillance video the Gwinnet County police department recently released showed that around 4 a.m. on September 16, three burglars armed with guns broke into a house Chen shared with a shop assistant. The robbers were so cocky that they didn’t bother to cover their faces.
Their criminal activity must have made a loud-enough noise to waken Chen. Video footage shows she ran out of her bedroom, still in her pajamas, a handgun in hand, and started shooting at the intruders. The burglars were astounded by Chen’s fearlessness, and fled in different directions to avoid the rain of her bullets.
After they all fled, Chen is seen on the video calmly dialing 911. Later, police reported one burglar died on the driveway from a gunshot wound, and the two others escaped. That’s why the police released the surveillance video, hoping the public could help identify those two escaped suspects.
But the video also turned Chen into an Internet sensation, almost a folk hero within the Chinese-American community. Her popularity quickly expanded to China. The video footage was even played on China’s Central Television station (CCTV), the most authoritative mouthpiece of the central government.
Tapping Into Chinese-Americans’ Anxiety
Chen’s hero status and popularity among Chinese, especially among Chinese Americans, reflects the anxiety Chinese Americans have felt in the last two years. Two years ago a rapper, himself a former burglar, wrote a song giving a tutorial on how to break into other people’s houses and rob them.
The music video that accompanied the song shows two masked, armed burglars breaking into someone’s house. As if this wasn’t enough, the lyrics of the song openly call for targeting Chinese people: “Find a Chinese neighborhood, ’cause they don’t believe in bank accounts.”
While no one can pin a direct link between this song and any robberies against Chinese, many do feel they have a target on their back since the song came out. Chinese community leaders went to the FBI to demand YouTube take down the music video, and even signed a White House petition to demand the song be banned from public media. They are frustrated and disappointed that their efforts proved futile because the rapper is protected by the First Amendment and can freely express himself any way he wants.
Now Chen’s act gives many Chinese Americans newfound hope and courage. Chinese Americans used to largely share the Left’s rhetoric on gun violence and gun control, so they shied from gun ownership. Chen’s action made them realize that the Second Amendment is their best friend to protect them and their property from intruders. Someone posted on the YouTube comments section of the rap song: “Hi. I’m a Chinese, I have cash in my house, together with my 1911 pistol in .45 ACP. Try me, see which one you will get, yo!”
This Doesn’t Fit U.S. Media’s Victim Narratives
Curiously, neither the rap song nor Chen’s story was widely reported here in the United States. The New York Post and HeatStreet picked it up, but the usual social justice warriors such as CNN, The New York Times, and the Washington Post have remained strangely silent. Their silence is especially noteworthy because recently they took a loud and forceful stand against Jesse Watters, a Fox correspondent, who produced a political satire for “The O’Reilly Factor” show that staged mock interviews in New York City’s Chinatown.
While Watters was called “racist,” CNN recently did a glowing report about the rapper, who is called “rap’s most outspoken Donald Trump critic.” The rapper produced a new album targeting Trump because he views Trump’s campaign as “racist.” Neither during the interview nor in the published report did CNN correspondents bring up the rapper’s criminal past or his early song’s lyric calling for robbing Chinese people.
Instead, CNN describes the rapper’s early songs as “largely apolitical” and noted he “did veer into socially conscious territory once in a while.” Does CNN truly believe that singing about how to rob Chinese people is morally equivalent to “veering into socially conscious territory?”
The double standard of the mainstream media explains why Chen’s story was much more widely reported overseas than here in the United States. Chen doesn’t fit the political correctness narrative in the United States. Asian Americans’ reputation for being economically successful means she is not perceived as a member of any disadvantaged groups.
Also, instead of playing the victim, Chen dared to use a handgun to defend herself against three intruders. Her action doesn’t fit the narrative of “gun violence,” and she would never be considered a poster child for gun control.
This Is an Opening for Conservatives
Liberals have long bragged that they are the voice of conscience for all, and that they have built a coalition across all minority groups. History seems to prove they’re right. In 2012, non-white voters, such as Asians, blacks, and Hispanics, gave 80 percent of their votes to Barack Obama. But there are signs that coalition is cracking up.
In Denver, where I live, there are four Chinese-language newspapers. Not only did all of them report Chen’s story, but also their editorials called on all Chinese Americans to follow Chen’s example and use the Second Amendment to protect themselves. In addition, each paper published a full-color, one-page ad from a political group called “Chinese for Trump.” I have never seen such political activism from the Chinese community before.
Interestingly, it’s the newly arrived Chinese immigrants who are pushing to get their political voices heard. China has replaced Mexico as the top country for sending immigrants to the United States since 2013. Compared to earlier generations of Chinese immigrants, today’s Chinese immigrants are better educated, more self-assured, and more politically savvy. While the majority of them still either remain apolitical or just lend their support to Democrat politicians and their policies, more and more are breaking away from that norm.
From leading lawsuits against affirmative action in college admissions to running for political offices, I see a rising tide of political activism from Asian Americans in general and Chinese Americans particularly. This trend should be a welcome sign to the Republican Party, which has been struggling to reach out to Asian communities. Yet the Republican Party has been so engaged in a civil war among its own factions that it could let this opportunity slip.