07/14/97 - 11:13 PM ET - Click reload often for latest version

Asian-Americans see rising racism

Suzanne Ahn has made her last political donation. The Dallas neurologist has given $200,000 in the past decade, mostly to Democrats, but is "totally fed up" with the investigation of campaign fund-raising.

"In the next presidential election, everyone will be coming around for money again and the money won't be there," says Ahn, 45, a "friendly acquaintance" of former Democratic National Committee (DNC) fund-raiser John Huang. "I blame Republicans for making this into a witch hunt and Democrats for not defending Asian-Americans."

Her views are being echoed on talk shows by Asian-American leaders doing damage control in the wake of accusations that China tried to influence U.S. elections by secretly funneling money through Americans.

Asian-Americans "went from 'model minority' . . . to 'foreigner' in one fell swoop," says Irene Natividad of the Philippine American Foundation. She says a focus on China and not other countries that try to influence U.S. policy is "a racist card . . . loaded with fear."

Often mentioned: a mimicking remark by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., at a hearing last week. He recapped testimony about Huang's DNC pay by saying, "No raise money, no get bonus." Brownback said he meant "no slight."

But such comments, and a recent National Review cover depicting President Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Gore in Chinese peasant clothes and buck teeth, have had "a chilling impact on Asian-American political involvement," says Karen Narasaki of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium.

Evidence, though, is hard to come by. Activists say donations to Washington state's Gary Locke withered last fall after Asian-related fund-raising revelations. But the Democrat was elected the first Chinese-American governor.

Leaders also say fund-raising by California Republican Matt Fong, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, has suffered. But Fong consultant Richard Temple says anger over racism has increased interest in politics among Asian-Americans, who have given Fong $250,000 in two months.

By Andrea Stone and Robert Silvers, USA TODAY

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