HBO’s recently released documentary short “38 at the Garden” tells the story of “an undrafted Harvard graduate” who “shocked fans, stunned his teammates and galvanized the Asian American community when he scored 38 points at Madison Square Garden against the Los Angeles Lakers” in February 2012. Unfortunately, it also juxtaposes Jeremy Lin’s “stature as a groundbreaking, cultural icon” with “the recent hate crimes against … Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”
With left-wing activist Lisa Ling as an executive producer, there wasn’t a chance that a retrospective on “Linsanity” wouldn’t be hopelessly woke. But that’s no reason to spare the execrable “38 at the Garden” a well-deserved bashing.
The spectacle starts immediately, as the incredibly unfunny comedians Hasan Minhaj and Jenny Yang explain what most Americans think about Asians with no reference to polling or focus-group findings. With his Emmy and Peabody awards visible over his right shoulder, Minhaj lectures that someone viewed as “small, passive, diminutive, unathletic, and submissive” cannot be perceived as “brave, courageous, covetable, desirable, or a leader.” Yang gets more specific and says Asians are viewed as “dry cleaners,” “IT guys,” “emasculated, no-d-ck-having, no-luck-with-women-having dudes,” “dragon lady,” “sex workers,” and “masseuses’ happy endings.”
Given that people of Asian descent in the United States outperform all other groups in socioeconomic metrics such as out-of-wedlock births, divorce rates, life expectancy, educational attainment, and household income, it’s at least theoretically possible that non-Asian Americans admire the cohort’s penchant for hard work, knowledge and skill cultivation, strong family and community ties, and clean living. Someone should inform Minhaj and Yang.
But it’s Lin himself who — unintentionally, one hopes — commits the documentary’s worst foul. Dutifully parroting the dubious charge that white supremacists are running amok, targeting BIPOCs, he asserts that today, “It’s like the worst time to be an Asian American.”
Worse than in 1942, when liberal icon Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, sending 120,000 Japanese people — the majority, U.S. citizens — off to internment camps?
Lin didn’t learn much about U.S. history at Harvard, evidently. The bias and brutality Asians had to overcome in past centuries is a testament to their undaunted tenacity and America’s national progress in putting prejudice in its rearview mirror.
Besides, the narrative of white supremacy posing a risk to Asian Americans has no credibility. Earlier this month, in a detailed analysis, the Manhattan Institute’s Diane Yap concluded: “The refrain that most anti-Asian crimes are committed by white people is misleading, if not meaningless.” Severe methodological defects and the corporate media’s laziness and knee-jerk receptivity to any accusation that the United States is irredeemably racist aid the woke mob’s “attempt to redirect outrage.”
Yap also noted that a focus on rare “hate crimes” ignores important questions:
A more pertinent question would be: “Who is responsible for the greatest proportion of violent crimes against Asians?” The Criminal Victimization report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics provides a robust dataset, with over 180,000 violent attacks on Asians in 2018.
The data indicate just how misleading the narrative of white-on-Asian violence really is. While black perpetrators account for 27.5 percent of violent attacks against Asians, Asians commit less than 0.1 percent of violent attacks against blacks, indicating little role for proximity. Most violent attacks against individuals of a particular racial group are committed by other members of that group — except for Asians, where a plurality is committed by blacks. In fact, blacks are responsible for 305 percent more violent crime against Asians than neighborhood demographics would predict, while whites and Hispanics commit significantly fewer attacks against Asians than would be expected.
“38 at the Garden’s” fatal flaw is the sin of omission. A considerable aspect of why Asian Americans have a more challenging time as of late is because of discriminatory policies they face in higher education. These policies are so egregious that on Oct. 31, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases that the Legal Insurrection Foundation believes “could end Affirmative Action as we know it.” Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina will challenge policies that “are discriminatory against students of Asian descent.”
Rather than addressing genuine race-based problems, the practitioners of identity politics construct imaginary biases and phantom threats as they advocate for left-wing policy agendas. Anything — even a heartwarming tale about an out-of-nowhere basketball player who briefly captured the nation’s attention — can be used to push the agenda of cultural Marxism.
Jeremy Lin deserves better than “38 at the Garden.” Asian Americans do, too.