Pro-Trump protesters inside the US Capitol on January 6 Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/Zuma
Since before he was even sworn into office, Joe Biden has made it clear that fighting the spate of right-wing extremism would be a top priority for his administration. The day after the Capitol insurrection, in announcing his Justice Department nominees, Biden said he wanted to take the department back to its original roots “to stand up to the Klan, to stand up to racism, to take on domestic terrorism,” he vowed. “This original spirit must again guide and animate its work.”
Though the Biden presidency is still nascent, the fight against domestic terrorism and extremism has been at the center of the administration’s work so far. Immediately after he was sworn in, Biden ordered his just-appointed director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, to work with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to put together a top-to-bottom assessment of the threat from violent extremists. That report, which came out last month, found that “newer sociopolitical developments,” like the pandemic and the rise of right-wing conspiracy theories, “will almost certainly spur some [domestic violent extremists] to try to engage in violence this year.” Meanwhile, the Justice Department has arrested at least 360 people in connection with the insurrection. And the Defense Department is engaged in its own efforts to address extremism in the military; in early February, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin signed a memo directing commanding officers to conduct a one-day “stand down” to discuss extremism in the ranks with personnel.
Shortly after the mass killing in Georgia—including six Asian women—earlier this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced the violence, saying it “has no place in America or anywhere.” Blinken made the comments during his first major overseas trip to Asia with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, where Blinken warned China that the United States will push back against its “coercion and aggression,” and Austin cautioned North Korea that the United States was ready to “fight tonight.”
Yet such hawkish rhetoric against China—which was initially spread by Donald Trump and other Republicans around the coronavirus—has directly contributed to rising anti-Asian violence across the country. In fact, it’s reflective of a long history of US foreign policy in Asia centered on domination and violence, fueled by racism. Belittling and dehumanizing Asians has helped justify endless wars and the expansion of US militarism. And this has deadly consequences for Asians and Asian Americans, especially women.
Anti-Asian violence through US foreign policy has manifested in the wars that have killedmillions, torn families apart, and led to massive displacement; in the nuclear tests and chemical weapons storage that resulted in environmental contamination in Okinawa, Guam, and the Marshall Islands; in the widespread use of napalm and Agent Orange in Vietnam, Laos, and Korea; in the US military bases that have destroyed villages and entire communities; in the violence perpetrated by US soldiers on Asian women’s bodies; and in the imposition of sanctions that result in economic, social, and physical harms to everyday people.