The stereotype and perception of “Asian-ness” as foreign is among the strongest biases held by European Americans. “Asian American” general draws up a list of assumed stereotype biases and rarely draws up the impressive list of contributors to American culture and society.
Asiatic heritage, including Central Asia and the “Near East”, in America is a perpetual mark of “other.” Fifth- and sixth-generation Americans, if the carry a Middle Eastern or Asian physical appearance get the same set of ethnocentric questioning by the ignorant,
“Where are you from?”
“No, but where are you really from?”
“Oh, Washington state, Seattle.”
“I mean, where is your family from?”
“We’re all from Washington.”
More so lately, we see the subset of Middle Eastern cultural exoticism, called Orientalism, at play. It comes from the psychological denial that European Americans could possibly be perpetrators of heinous terrorist acts. It does not come from a logical place and nowhere better do we see this than with Timothy McVey (Oklahoma City bombing) and Ted Kaczynski (The Unabomber) when the white Western world left Americans of Scots-Irish and Polish ethnic heritage unmolested.
It’s culturally reinforced, especially in mass media. Before you assume that you don’t engage in this, take a look at Harvard’s Implicit Association Tests and subsequent social science studies show that the bias occurs in people who genuinely believe themselves to be free of it – including Asian Americans.
“The stereotype is assumed by those who call Obama a secret Muslim. Colin Powell made the excellent point that even if Obama were Muslim, so what? Plenty of Americans are Muslims, many have even fought and died for the country. If they are not True Americans, no one is.”
“The creation of the idea of Orientalism was more complex then just creating a category to separate the ‘other’ into, it was a way of controlling and influencing this group. It is important to keep in mind that within this idea of Orientalism there were different groups of people placed in it. For example Chines[e] and Indians were placed in this idea of Orientalism but are very different from each other. It can be understood as a way of looking at, and categorizing the ‘other’ or ‘exotic’. This idea of separating the ‘exotic other’ from us is not a new idea. Throughout history this idea of Orientalism has been used to segregate us from the other. It has been a way of thought that not only keeps us apart from the other, but it also expresses how they are not equal to us in anyway. We must distinguish ourselves from the ‘other’ and express our great differences. Orientalism is how we do this.” https://islamicidentities.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/orientalism-still-present-today/ (emphasis added)
There are countless Americans (or citizens of other Western nations) of European heritage who are probably thinking, “it’s not a problem affecting me.” I’d simply point out that this is a perfect example of the hidden bias at work in them – it affects Americans.