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What Donald Trump Sees When He Sees an Asian College Kid’s Face

Emil Photo Again Edited 61b7dabb61239

Maybe you saw what happened to Joseph Choe, a 20-year old whose parents emigrated from Korea.

Choe is an economics student at Harvard student who knows all about supply and demand.

And when he heard Donald Trump spewing forth untruths about South Korea on the campaign, Choe decided he’d demand the truth from the Donald. Or, at the very least, a correction.

Trump was saying South Korea didn’t pay anything to help in its defense.

Au contraire, said Choe, who knew South Korea pays the U.S. about $860 million.

Cho made it a point to confront Trump at a rally in New Hampshire last week, dubbed the “No Labels Problem Solver” convention.

But all Trump saw were labels.

As reported by AP, Trump saw Choe’s hoodie, which branded him a Harvard student. Trump, who often boasts about attending Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania, went for the kill.

“Harvard?” Trump asked. “You go to Harvard?”

The report mentioned Choe seemed to delay. Trump became impatient.

“He’s choking!” Trump jabbed. Then Choe asked the question.

“Basically, you said that South Korea takes advantage of the United States in terms of the defense spending on the Korean Peninsula,” Choe reportedly said. “I just want to get the facts straight.”

Like a bully, Trump went ad hominem. When in doubt, attack the person, right?

“Are you from South Korea?” Trump asked.

“I’m not,” Choe said. “I was born in Texas, raised in Colorado.”

Some laughed at that. Then Choe said, “No matter where I’m from, I like to get my facts straight” and then was cut off.

“I don’t care who you are, whether you’re the prime minister or Donald Trump, if you say something factually wrong or do something factually wrong, I’ll call you out on it,” Choe later said to a reporter. “[Trump] makes all these, like, weird accusations, whether it’s toward Mexicans or women, or South Koreans; I just wanted to call him out on that.”

Instead of a thank you, Trump responded in the way people who shouldn’t be president responded.

When Trump didn’t have an answer, he bullied and attacked the credibility of his challenger. And when he saw Mr. Harvard was also ethnic, well, he could drop the petty Harvard stuff and just go ethnic.

Bully plus ethnic?

Yes, that equals racism.

Time for a little more substance from the Donald. What is his understanding of Asian, and if he’s prone to making errors that a Harvard undergraduate can catch, what more than the top levels of government in any important Asian country?

More distressing is his use of the ethnic attack against a fellow American.

Or are all Asians perpetual foreigners?

Public policy is important. Trump’s reaction should let you know. Assumptions on race do happen in 2015. Wrong assumptions. Hurtful ones. They shouldn’t be made by someone who wants to be the leader for all Americans.

Emil Guillermo recently won the Ahn Award for Civil Rights and Social Justice from the Asian American Journalists Association. He writes for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Contact:,,


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