Daily Archives: October 21, 2010

The New Yellow Peril

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries fear of Asian people, primarily Chinese but including Japanese, was often voiced in explicitly racist terms. Complementing a lexicon of bigotry– words I have no desire to reproduce here–  were images of people of Asian descent as constituting “swarms” (an insect metaphor)  and “hordes” (evoking the medieval empire of the Mongols). This kind of rhetoric was the currency of what was called the “Yellow Peril,” the notion that Asian immigration would compromise US racial “purity” and dispossess (white) American workers. These days such crude tactics are no longer permitted. Instead, we get slick PAC-funded ads such as the following: