Ann Coulter went on a racist Twitter tirade after an Asian-American reporter published a piece on Immigration and Customs Enforcement senior adviser Jon Feere and his appreciation for the right-wing pundit’s commentary.
The far-right, anti-immigration and anti-Muslim talking head posted a series of tweets, attacking Media Matters investigative reporter Eric Hananoki for being Asian.
Insinuating that Asians do not experience racism, Coulter sarcastically tweeted, “An Asian is going to explain racism to us. Apparently it has nothing to do with black people. It’s all about IMMIGRANTS,” in response to Hananoki’s piece titled “ICE senior adviser Jon Feere is an Ann Coulter superfan who loves her racist immigration writings.”
Hananoki’s piece focused on Feere’s previous promotion of Coulter’s columns attacking immigrants, particularly her Islamophobic pieces. The reporter discovered a number of times when Feere, a known immigration hard-liner and critic of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, propped up Coulter’s work. The reporter made no reference to racism against black or Asian people in the piece.
“It surprised me because her attacks on me for being Asian seem so beside the point of the article, but it didn’t because she has a long history of open racism,” Hananoki told HuffPost. “Her whole thing is trying to get her followers mad at others ― and you’ve definitely been seeing that with how she constantly demonizes immigrants to this country. And it only reinforces how disturbing it is that Jon Feere, a senior official at ICE, loves her work.”
Coulter’s tirade continued. Minutes after her first Hananoki-related tweet, she again retweeted his piece and seemingly tried to pit Asians and blacks against each other, writing, “Forget the Middle Passage, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights.... Racism is only about ASIAN IMMIGRANTS! ― Eric Hananoki.”
She continued to attack him, sharing his headshot along with statements like “Hey, black people! Eric Hananoki will tell you what’s racist!” and “Have you ever noticed all the good anti-racism jobs are going to Asians? Eric Hananoki: Racism Slayer!”
She also went after his Media Matters colleague Matthew Gertz, who had shared a screenshot of what he called her “racist meltdown.”
At one point Coulter claimed, in a white-savior-esque, anti-immigrant tweet, “Just as black Americans were finally accorded full civil rights, Teddy Kennedy decided to dump millions of immigrants on the country, taking jobs & slowing black progress into the middle class. WE OWE THEM AN IMMIGRATION MORATORIUM.”
But the idea that immigrants and an increase in labor supply have hurt the U.S.-born workforce has been consistently debunked. Ohio State University professor Treva Lindsey recently told The Washington Post’s The Fix, “A 2016 study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania found that an increase in the labor supply resulting from immigration could actually generate more employment in industries such as home construction and food production.”
“Simply put, more demand for goods and services means greater demand for those providing those goods and services,” she said. “While a handful of less-than-credible studies suggest that undocumented immigrants take jobs from U.S.-born black people and Latinos, existing data simply doesn’t bear out a correlation between undocumented immigration and unemployment rates among U.S.-born racial and ethnic minorities.”
Ultimately, Coulter’s attacks didn’t make much sense, Hananoki said, especially since Asian-Americans have long been targets of racism in the U.S. The very first major legislation that explicitly banned a group of people from entering the U.S. based on ethnicity was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which put a 10-year moratorium on Chinese labor immigration that was eventually made permanent and extended to other Asian nationalities. Restrictions on immigration from Asia were lifted with the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act.
“Of course Asians can and should speak about racism, especially given the history of Asian immigration to this country and the xenophobic reactions to that,” Hananoki said.
He added, “And there have been Asian figures like Sen. Mazie Hirono ― herself an immigrant from Japan ― who come from that background and speak out against the racism and xenophobia that’s happening in today’s climate.”
So far, Hananoki has received an outpouring of support from fellow journalists of color as well as his Media Matters colleagues. But he has also seen some backlash from “racist trolls who have gone after me ― and that’s probably what Coulter wanted and expected, since that’s part of her m.o.”
However, Hananoki said that he doesn’t plan to let the racist comments prevent him from reporting, “especially on racist media figures and their influence on the administration and elsewhere.”