So if you’re an Asian American, and you’re fluent in an Asian language, and you’re trying hard to serve your country and want to use your language skills to help your country, the State Department should probably hire you, especially since it costs tens of thousands of dollars to teach a person the language. They’d be saving money, and they wouldn’t have to teach the Asian American a new culture. Right? Well, apparently not: At the State Department, diversity can count against you. Apparently, being Asian American means that you’re suspicious and therefore are unfit for duty.
Some of these stories are ridiculous. One dude was born in this country to Taiwanese immigrants, and somehow this prevents him from serving in China. Another Korean American dude got precluded from serving in Japan because, among other things, he was dating a Japanese woman.
It’s flat-out racist. Not to mention, it’s racist without reason:
“I have wracked my brain and cannot think of any historical examples of foreign service officers comprising their country’s interests because of family or other connections to the host country,” says William Keylor, a professor of international relations at Boston University. The bigger problem is “clientitis,” which happens when people spend enough time in one place to adopt its point of view. “That can happen to anyone, regardless of any familial or other ties to the country,” he says.
It’s about time people started talking about getting rid of this racist aura of suspicion over Asian Americans. These are people’s careers. They shouldn’t be losing opportunities because of mistrust that has no basis in fact.