(Vancouver resident Kevin Campbell wrote this letter to Port Coquitlam mayor Brad West on May 3.)
Dear Mr. West,
As you are no doubt aware, 11 anti-Asian hate crimes were committed in Vancouver alone in April 2020. That is compared to a total of 12 in all of 2019. A similar phenomenon is unfolding in the United States, on a much larger scale. The perpetrators are of course malicious and imbecilic, but it is because such perpetrators are so often prone to suggestion and generalization, I would call upon you to throttle back on your endless declarations against China.
A quick search of your Twitter account reveals a dizzying 77 tweets mentioning “China” or “Chinese” just between January 1, 2019 and May 3, 2020. The content ranges across all manner of subjects, from UBCM to Hong Kong to fentanyl to the Uighurs to Huawei. There is even a not-so-subtle dog-whistle about luxury cars and new driver stickers. On the other hand, you have chosen not to highlight the plight of Venezuela, Yemen or the Rohingyas at any point over the same period. You will I’m sure admit to having a laser focus on all things China.
I get it. You proudly and publicly wear the badge of populism. You relish being the aggressor towards a foreign power that preys upon your country, even if you must suffer slings and arrows for it. You also admonish the political establishment as “feeble” and “impotent”. You’ve curried favour with a small, but vocal, band of media personalities to push the profile. It’s all straight from the playbook.
But on the China topic, you are drifting into irresponsibility. Like with Mr. Trump, a relentless focus on a singular ‘other’ is dangerous in a time like this, made worse by the emotions surrounding COVID-19. No matter how many of your grievances are warranted (and many of them are), throwing it all into a pot called China or Chinese is dangerous. As one of your acolytes noted after your ‘new driver’ post: “That’s Hongcouver.” (Incidentally, that response is the tip of the iceberg for what goes on within the threads of your posts.)
You have the bully pulpit. You are aggressively out to advance your political career. All I ask is that you be mindful of how your virulent words and Chinese preoccupation might play with those willing to vandalize a cultural centre or throw an old man to the ground.
Happy to discuss with you further on some future occasion.