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Op-Ed: Transgender Virtue Signaling at Wi Spa This Weekend: Left & Right Both Looked Bad

A violent protest in front of Wi Spa in Koreatown, Los Angeles escalated into an international news story on Saturday.

LOS ANGELES, CA – I was invited to speak at what turned out to be a violent protest on Saturday in front of Wi Spa in Koreatown Los Angeles – I politely declined. In hindsight, it turned out to be the wisest decision as protestors from the left and the right got into heated exchanges, projectiles were thrown at independent journalists, a man was severely bloodied on the head and police in riot gear intervened to break up the two camps. This escalated into an international news story with familiar voices like Andy Ngo publishing videos, and was subsequently criticized for inserting himself in tense situations and blaming it all on Antifa. Voices on the left like Anita Sarkeesian said “it’s so important that cis allies disrupt these violent anti-trans narratives whenever we can”. Both generated a lot of attention on their latest posts.

I have to take to task both polarized camps, which came off as ridiculous to me, and displayed glaring hypocrisy in their actions that day.

First and foremost, the vast majority of people there protesting were not transgender (pro or anti, it didn’t matter, trans issues didn’t even seem to be in the forefront). The vast majority of people that showed up were not spa patrons. If you don’t go to a spa, why do you care? If you’re not transgender, why do you care? It clearly was an opportunity for the right to come out, riding off an issue to posture on “saving the children”, and the left and Antifa joining in to counter protest the gathering and get offended for others. It’s almost like they enjoy having these run-ins and this was like a reunion of sorts.

It is this virtue signaling which I find so off putting in today’s society. I know there’s an argument to speak up and take a stand, but do we even check our priorities or ask ourselves, is it important to take a stand or is my voice best used for a different issue or situation? I will gladly drive to a rally to support causes I believe in: health freedom, law and order to recall District Attorney Gascon who is not prosecuting hate crimes or gang violence, or to speak out against Critical Race Theory. But to stand in solidarity with someone who got flashed in a spa? I’m sorry you saw some uncomfortable things, but I’m pretty sure you’ll get over it, so I’ll take a pass on this one. Or to cause problems for a business that is already struggling after a year and a half of restrictions? Sorry, but the latter takes precedence over any stand I want to make on an issue.

Once again, I’m all for the debate on any issue, but in this case, what transpired was a “my team vs. your team” mentality which has caused many to ignore the perspective of those who don’t want to get caught up in the food fight. Like the business itself.

How about the business’ rights? The business merely chose to follow state law and allow for transgender individuals to choose which section of the spa they would use. Now, I may not agree that’s the best thing to do but who am I to even matter? I don’t even go to that spa, so I should have no say. How about letting the actual patrons and members of Wi Spa decide if this is a good policy? I think the free market can speak for itself and if it really was a bad move, the patrons would vote with their feet and leave. What is inappropriate is all of the signs attacking the business for having this policy. Once again, most protestors and counter-protestors were not patrons of the business.

The theatrics of the virtue signaling crack me up. On the left, they came with #StopAsianHate signs? What does that have to do with anything going on here? It’s just like the whole “Black lives don’t matter until black trans lives matter”. It is a whole competition on the left for attention and who’s the biggest victim. Very unproductive. The right was not protesting the race of the business, even if it happens to be Asian owned. This non sequitur is taking away from the issues at hand and robbing the transgender movement from issues that should be hashed out. And no one from the left ever recognized the impact to the business. If you care about Asian lives, why are you hurting the Asian business? Or the consequences of bringing and allowing Antifa to incite violence. No, the left does not have the monopoly on love, tolerance and wishing others joy (this is a reference to the “Trans Joy Matters” sign seen in one of the photos from the incident). In fact, many times the left is the source of the greater violence here. In this case, they were the first to let their emotions get out of hand and incite violence on innocent bystanders like the independent journalist who was hit on the head by a pipe. Hyperbole also doesn’t further the debate and ends up hurting the transgender people you are championing because you know what happens when the boy cries wolf too many times?

On the right, please pick your battles wisely too. When I was less tuned in to politics, I observed that the right loved to get involved in things that were none of their business and used God as a justification to stick their noses in what is not their business. Ultimately it’s a form of control and trying to control others, which is antithetical to freedom. Signs like “Save The Children” just come off a little too dramatic for me. First of all, if you’re going to be so upset about seeing naked bodies, don’t bring your kids to a Korean spa where you are guaranteed to see nudity and other potentially weird things. As an Asian kid, who’s parents had no issues going to places like this, I actually told them I would pass, as it was too weird for me. Problem solved: I never went again. Did it traumatize me as a child? No, I got over it. Second of all, people with “Jesus Saves” shirts yelling at anyone who disagrees with them comes off super condescending. As a fellow Christian, I advise you to please stop weaponizing Christ – it is not helping bring people to the light. If you feel someone is lost and needs to be saved, you can persuade and they will come on their own time, God’s time, not your timetable. Be the inspiration to convert them, not the polarization to keep them in the darkness. There are legitimate concerns you may have about the transgender issues. Hurting a business and escalating to violence is not ultimately productive, don’t you think, to get the point across? Maybe fight on the school board level, educate your community and neighbors, show in a positive way why your side is right.

Of course this left vs right run-in happened a day before 4th of July. Isn’t it all about freedom? Ok, fair enough, go protest. It is your right. Can you protest while allowing other protestors to share your space and not devolve into childish attacks?  Can you respect a business trying to survive? Can you ask yourself, “Is this a worthy battle to fight?” Can you ask yourself if it’s any of your business, even, and how it really affects you at the end of the day? And to a person who got an earlier draft of this piece, can you encourage a different point of view without being outright mean and condescending? Those on the outside also have the freedom and right to question your priorities and to come to a conclusion that both sides were utterly ridiculous. Can we be better and practice civic discourse without devolving into violence? 

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