On Sunday’s episode of “Last Week Tonight”, John Oliver brought to light the little-known story of the Chinese survivors of the Titanic tragedy.
“Here is something you might not know: There were actually six Chinese men who survived the sinking of the Titanic, but upon reaching U.S. shores, were not permitted to enter the United States to recover. Instead, they were forced onto another boat and sent away the very next day,” Oliver shared, highlighting the history of racism against Asians in the U.S.
Calling the move not just racist but “insensitive,” Oliver continued, “Did it really have to be another boat? They had just been on the best boat and it f***ing sucked. Could you not put them on a zeppelin or something? At the very least, let’s try and mix up the doomed turn-of-the-century transportation methods here.”
Oliver further dispelled the stereotype of Asian immigrants as the “model minority” who are all “problem-free” and inherently successful. He pointed out anti-Asian racism over the years born out of fear and ignorance, citing Japanese internment camps during WWII, the attacks on South Asians after 9/11, and continuing violence against Asians in the wake of COVID-19 in the U.S.
“There is no nice racism, there is no silver lining to it, and there is no working your way out of it,” Oliver said. “You’re still perpetually treated as a foreigner, still asked where you’re ‘really from,’ and Asian-Americans always seem to be just one geopolitical crisis away from becoming the targets of violence yet again, whether it’s those internment camps for Japanese-Americans, or the spate of attacks on South Asians after 9/11, or all the recent racial violence during the pandemic. So the ‘model minority’ myth is both a tool of white supremacy and a trap.”