There are missing folks in the culture of Hollywood and the American news media. One “missing person” are ordinary Hispanics.Another is the ordinary Asian.

Hispanics differ from one another (my Colombian born sons never ate a taco, and spoke Castilian, not Mexican dialect). But Asians differ even more, even those from the same country.

Asians are rarely are put into films or movies, and when shown, often they act the same as “generic California/New York city” in culture. In some ways this is because it is always assumed they will integrate without problems. Yet rarely is the “back-story” of their family’s culture shown, or the problems of the pull between conservative “old country” versus American values.

The last film highlighting Asian immigrants was Gran Torino, by Clint Eastwood. Then there was Mississippi Masala. But I bet you can count on one hand the number of Asian stories on TV or movies.

What is not recognized is that “Asian values” has a lot more in common with the values of the Christian right than with the values of the elitist left. So in the “culture wars”, many traditional Asians stand on the same side of these issues as Christian “fundamentalists”.

Another problem is that many Asians come from entrepreneurial families, and so in financial matters, they may sympathize with the frugal  in the “tea party” movement.

And then there is the immigration debate dilemma.

Many were poor on arrival, and needed a  “hand up”. For this reason, many Asian immigrants would be natural for the Democratic party, and feel uncomfortable with the Southern Republican establishment, with it’s racist taint.

But the social values in the Democratic party, one that is rabidly pro abortion and pro socialism, also goes against much of traditional Asian values, such as the importance of the family, a work ethic, and recognition of the virtues of capitalism. This makes many Asians like my husband more at home in the Republican party.

So today, I noted a minor note about a Republican who won in a Democratic district in Hawaii (apparently Democratic infighting left him the winner). But I was puzzled that his name was Djou.

Now, an East Asian elected from Hawaii is not anything new, but for some reason, no body questioned his name. It’s French. And it took me awhile to google the reason why.

has the reason: His family name was Zhou, but his grandfather worked for a Frenchman, who put Dijou, a French name, on his papers. Later, it was shortened to Djou.

Congressman Djou is ethnic Chinese, whose relatives lived in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Thailand. In other words, part of the large Chinese diaspora, who run many of the small businesses here in South East Asia.

So where are the stories about his family’s move to the US, or their connections with Asia? What about their flight from China? Did they face discrimination?

So why do so few newspapers ask him why he is a Republican?

His web page shows a “mainstream” financial conservative stance, and (like Sarah Palin) support of conservation that will protect the environment.

No big news here. Yet a press covering this election as a “horse race” ignores these issue related themes that could steal voters from Democrats even in safe districts.

The real work will be for Democrats to demonize Republicans as racist: but the presence of moderate Republicans like Djou and Governor Jindal and Congressman Cao will be a problem if they are allowed a voice in that party, especially if these immigrants and children of immigrants are allowed to be leading voices for just and fair immigration reform.

Luckily for the Democrats, the Republicans have not shown their ability to be street smart in these matters.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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