April 27, 2015

Justice for Danny Chen 3/3

Pvt. Harry Lew, whose killers are even less unprosecuted.

Pvt. Danny Chen, US Army

On October 13, 2011, Private Danny Chen, a Chinese-American active duty private in the US Army, died while deployed in Afghanistan. The circumstances surrounding his death are outrageous and illegal (even in military law, a largely unknown beast): racially-biased hazing both physically and emotionally over months prior to his death. Suicide or murder, we can’t tell. His superior, Sgt. Holcomb, spent 30 days in jail & a weak admission of race-based hazing are the results. Not good enough. We take it to the court of public opinion to embarrass the DoD by:

  1. re-highlighting the intense and un-sustained media attention, especially during the military trial
  2. outing misperceptions & cultural myths by clarifying hazing vs murder
  3. list what rights one has once one enlists so those enlisting & enlisted have; we can’t bust military culture, but we can expose it as light shines most where there is darkness
  4. showing how to contact Congress & DoD to end race-based hazing

We’ll coordinate with the Organization for Chinese Americans (OCA) NY chapter as we did when the news first broke. To quote the Angry Asian Man, “In the end, all of this is work to ensure that another tragedy like this never happens again.”


The Reminder of One Community’s Success

Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri

Editor’s Note: We moderate all comments, including inappropriate and racist ones.

I have never watched the Miss America pageant live, so when I heard about the news of Nina Davuluri becoming the first South Asian American to win the Miss America title, it was from my Facebook mobile app the morning after. Yet, barely five minutes passed before my Facebook friends started posting news stories on the racist backlash to someone of Davuluri’s lineage attaining the title “Miss America.”

Whatever your views on the Miss America pageant, Davuluri’s success is nothing to take lightly. While the pageant has its origins since the 1920s, it was not until 1983 when the first African-American woman would wear the crown and in 2001 when the title went to a Hawaii-born Filipino woman. As groundbreaking as her accomplishment may be, the reaction on the Internet is nothing new. When Cheerios released a commercial in which a little girl adorably pours cereal all over her African-American father’s chest because her White mother said Cheerios is “heart healthy,” the company had to disable YouTube comments. When a 10-year old Latino boy (beautifully) sang the National Anthem while wearing a traditional mariachi outfit, stinging tweets speculating about the boy’s immigrant status filled the online world.

Each ethnic and underrepresented community always celebrates a victory when someone from that community achieves some success (my mother still boasts about how a National spelling bee champion is Indian, as if the child were her own). Yet, we are constantly reminded of the outsider status minorities share in this country and how no matter what the achievement, no community is immune from the vitriol of the anonymous online poster. It is a humble reminder that the advent of technology and communication modes, as well as progress in other areas, do not reflect a change in attitude of the entire American public. So while we praise Davuluri’s win and read all about it on our smartphones, laptops, and tablets, we are reminded that there are some who will simply burn up inside to see another community’s success.

– K.J. Bagchi

China Bashing Unlimited: No Taiwanese Is Safe

The below is inspired by Politico‘s “Tweets on Mitch McConnell’s wife’s ethnicity condemned” and their email broadcast about it yesterday (no static web copy). The topic is too important & timely to ignore, part of the continuous China-bashing by all for years, especially during election seasons, but regardless now that every day is campaign season.

LIBERAL SUPER PAC APOLOGIZES FOR TWEETS ABOUT McCONNELL’S ‘CHINESE’ WIFEPhillip Bailey reports for WFPL in Louisville: “Hours after being roundly condemned by Democrats and Republicans, a liberal super PAC is apologizing to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife for a series of controversial Twitter messages. The group’s Tweets accused former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, who was born in Taiwan, of moving American jobs to China and that her ‘Chinese (money)’ was buying state elections. Critics slammed the comments as racially offensive, and a national backlash against the group was ignited. Progress Kentucky executive director Shawn Reilly says they remain dedicated to educating voters about McConnell’s record, but their messages ‘included an inappropriate comment on the ethnicity’ of the former labor secretary.

“‘We apologize to the secretary for that unnecessary comment and have deleted the tweets in question. In addition, we have put a review process in place to ensure tweets and other social media communications from Progress Kentucky are reviewed and approved prior to posting,’ he says. Reilly had initially balked at expressing regret despite a spokesperson telling WFPL an apology was forthcoming. But after Democrats such as actress Ashley Judd, who is the rumored opponent for McConnell in 2014, denounced the Twitter messages Progress issued the apology late Tuesday evening.” http://bit.ly/Y09Fly

— The Super PAC had also suggested in tweets that McConnell was gay, reports BuzzFeed:”In two tweets, both of which have since been deleted, Progress Kentucky accused McConnell of being gay, including calling the Senate’s top Republican ‘a gay-bashing gay senator.'” http://bit.ly/12aqXov

While Progress Kentucky apologized, the list of China-bashing is endless, we could never cease writing about it. I write this post to shine just 1 of countless examples, but their numerous nature shouldn’t desensitize you or make you feel that’s tolerable or impossible to stop. Just an idealistic note against the money machine that prizes political donations above all, China bashing being a very successful tool therein.

Anti-Asian violence recap

Warning, this article and its links contain disturbing and graphic content.

It all started with the killing of an Asian man with the graphic New York Post cover (interestingly, from an Asian photographer) by a mentally ill man. Not only was it shameless New York tabloid fodder that set a new low in an already low industry desperate for readership, but they couldn’t even give the wife’s and daughter’s funeral privacy.

A week later, a mentally ill woman shoved an Asian man onto another set of New York City subway tracks. Caulk her up to a toxic result of political, religious and ethic hate. That topic deserves its own post about political extremism feeding the already pliable and paranoid tendencies of the mentally ill.

Last week in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, a mentally ill robber assaulted, robbed then threw a woman onto the subway tracks. No identity of the victim, yet.

In that same city today, Dr. Melissa Ketunti, a half Thai female pediatrician, was found duct taped, bound and burned to death in her own home’s basement.

One has to wonder how much other anti-Asian violence is out there without all this high-profile publicity. Very sickening. Publicize for the sake of justice.

Justice for Private Danny Chen Part 2/2

Private Danny Chen

Today is the 1st anniversary of the hazing and death of Private Danny Chen. We still seek just for Danny Chen. Our friends at OCA NYC have led 7 thoughtfully planned and left many actions items at Facebook Page & Tumblr.

Anti-AAPI violence comes in many forms. For our many AAPI service members and those who’ll join them in the future, never forget and to prepare by sharing your resources in the comments below.

Also let’s remember Harry Lew who died in similarly barbaric circumstances.

Sam Yoon To Lead Council Of Korean Americans

I wanted to share an update on what has been happening since you joined me in our historic campaign for mayor of Boston in 2009.

Several months after the election I made the difficult decision to leave Boston and move to the Washington, D.C. area. Though I loved Boston dearly, I took the opportunity to move closer to my family, but also to lead a national organization advocating for community economic development.

I learned so much about how grassroots community organizations all around our country both thrived and struggled due to the Great Recession. I took their message to our national leaders and even documented them in our own YouTube channel. But by the end of 2011, I was offered a chance to serve in the Obama administration.

Most of you know I was an early and strong supporter of Barack Obama in his historic 2008 race, and I was honored to work for him during most of this year at the Department of Labor in the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) as a senior policy advisor. The time I spent there was both eye-opening and sobering. It is an enormous challenge to prepare a 21st century workforce in a struggling economy with a gridlocked Congress. Yet I saw the good people at ETA march on every day, for American workers, and I salute them.

This brings us to today. I am pleased to let you know through this email that I have recently been hired as the President of a non-profit organization called the Council of Korean Americans (CKA). CKA is a national, non-partisan group of Korean Americans whose mission is to assert a clear, strong voice on matters of importance to our community and to advocate for our full participation in all aspects of American life.

Founded in 2010, CKA fulfills a clear need in the Korean American community, which, like many immigrant and ethnic communities, lacks a national, unified voice. I firmly believe our members and our allies have the talent, energy, and drive to make this happen. I would love for you to be involved.

Check back from time to time at our website. I plan to start a blog and comment on issues of the day from a more personal point of view. I encourage you to sign up for our newsletter and stay in touch with me as I take on this new venture.

That’s my update, in two minutes or less! Thank you for reading, and thank you so much for your friendship over the years.

Please stay in touch, and God bless!

– Sam Yoon

The 2012 DNC AAPI Caucus

The second AAPI caucus meeting was well-attended and filled with remarks from a number of Asian American politicians, several Secretaries, and one Second Lady. I wish I could say the same for the first meeting, but I wasn’t there. It was over by the time I picked up my media credentials. Lesson learned.

Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chair of CAPAC, reminded everyone in the room that President Obama is good for our community, and I don’t just mean Asian Americans. Delegate Madeleine Bordallo of Guam reminded us President Obama grew up an island boy — he doesn’t forget about the territories. Perhaps the key takeaway from Chu’s remarks, Republicans are working so hard to prevent those who wish to register to vote from doing so — 81% of first time voters voted for Obama in 2008. Congressman Honda, former chair of CAPAC, rightfully declared Asian Americans the theoretical margin of victory, but only if we register to vote. Only 55% of eligible Asian Americans are registered.

Chu also focused on the anti-Asian sentiments percolating throughout unsavory elements of the American polity with particular focus on Pete Hoekstra bringing in yellowgirl in Michigan in the year of the 30th anniversary of Vincent Chin’s murder.

Chris Lu, President Obama’s Cabinet Secretary, noted that 2012 is not only the 30th anniversary of Vincent Chin’s murder but also the 70th anniversary of the Japanese Internment and 130th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Lu also reminded us that before President Obama, a meeting of every Asian American Secretary throughout history would fit at a table for 2. Now if they all got together, there are many board games they wouldn’t be able to play together since Obama appointed the third, fourth, and fifth Asian American Secretaries.

Secretary Arne Duncan gave some of the best news of the caucus — the Department of Education is working to dispel the model minority myth. Duncan also shared that this was his first convention and he’s having a great time. There’s always something special about one’s first. Duncan stressed the importance of America leading the world in college graduation; the Department of Education is working to make that happen.

Secretary Hilda Solis reflected the feelings of many, many people. The Democratic National Convention looks like America, unlike the Republican National Convention. Solis also celebrated AAPI politicians and leaders, whom she collectively referred to as “fast and effective.” Solis’s words also included high praise for Michelle Obama.

Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff, also praised the First Lady, noting how critical her work on childhood obesity is to many AAPI communities. Tchen reminded the crowd that 17 new Asian American federal judges have been appointed and confirmed thanks to President Obama with 3 more on track for confirmation.

Former White House Chief of Staff Pete Rouse expanded on the theme of federal judges, making the point Gautam says is ignored in this presidential race — 2 SCOTUS nominations could arise in the next presidential term. Rouse also urged everyone in the room to make their best efforts to maximize turnout.

Dr. Jill Biden appeared for a few brief remarks largely stressing the importance of involvement in the political process.

Maya Soetoro-Ng also spoke.

Daniel Inouye gave a speech that should have been televised.

Mayor Ed Lee was the most amusing speaker, upstaging Mike Honda, who usually has no competition for most amusing:

I’ll be short because I am.

On a personal note, I don’t know if anyone in the room needed or made use of it, but I greatly appreciate the accessibility provided to the hard-of-hearing:

– Justin Gillenwater


Republican guns are not weapons

Another day in the United States, another tragic shooting, this time by Jeffrey Johnson in the shadow of the Empire State Building. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson. Aurora. Oak Creek. There are so many that it’s hard to remember them all. This doesn’t count the less publicized daily gun deaths that only garner fine print in the newspapers.

Again and again, Americans are killed by legally purchased firearms because our gun laws are among the most lax in the world. Yes, Johnson reportedly was not licensed to carry the gun in New York City, but he legally bought the gun in Florida in 1991. in the rest of the recent incidents, including Aurora, all guns and ammunition were purchased legally.

The NRA uses a false interpretation of the Second Amendment and massive campaign bribes, er, “contributions,” to make sure the James Holmes-type psychos in this country are able to buy as many guns and bullets as they need to mass murder us. Make no mistake, blood is on their hands, and they know it. But they don’t care.

The evidence that stricter gun laws work is all over the world. Japan strictly forbids handgun ownership by private citizens. As a direct result, for every Japanese murdered by firearms, more than 200 Americans become victims of gun homicides. Closer to home, Canada has much stricter gun laws, and consequently less than half as many firearm deaths.

What about the constitutionally protected “freedom” that gun nuts keep ranting about? It’s the result of an intentional misinterpretation of the Second Amendment, which reads, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The NRA believes the first phrase is disposable or meaningless. Yet any elementary school English teacher could tell you that the second phrase is dependent on the first.

If the Founding Fathers thought this right should be unrestricted, they wouldn’t have bothered to haggle about the language of the first phrase during the summer of 1789. But they did. And the Second Amendment as ratified obviously means that the people’s right to keep and bear arms is not to be infringed BECAUSE the “free State” may need to be defended by a “well regulated militia.”

This is exactly the situation in land locked Switzerland, where the vast majority of men in their 20s are conscripted into the military for training. These men are REQUIRED to keep firearms at home. Switzerland, mind you, doesn’t have a regular army, so the citizenry serves as a “well regulated militia.” Despite this very high rate of gun ownership, Switzerland has less than one-seventh as many gun homicides as the US — I guess that’s what happens when the guns are truly “well regulated.”

Also consider that the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791. At the time, firearms were single shot flintlocks, not terribly accurate, with limited range. They misfired often and took at least 15 seconds to reload, even by experts. The Founding Fathers could not have forseen private citizens having access to military grade rapid fire assault weapons.

I can’t say with 100% certaintly that stricter gun laws would have prevented or mitigated all of these incidents. However, it’s common sense that if you make it harder for criminals and psychopaths to obtain weapons of mass destruction, you give law enforcement and other authorities more time to prevent these deadly incidents from occurring. The notion that having MORE armed citizens as a deterrent is frankly idiotic. A better idea would be to close corporate tax loopholes. For instance, how about making gun show promoters legally liable and responsible for all weapons bought from their events? How about requiring a Federal Firearms License from every gun show seller? How about outlawing private ownership of semiautomatic weapons? How about limiting gun purchases to one per month per household? I personally disapprove of hunting, but I understand some people consider it to be a legitimate activity. Fine. None of these restrictions would be more than a tiny inconvenience. Yet the NRA has or would fight every one of them.

The NRA’s basis for unrestricted gun ownership by private citizens is a massive lie built on a bogus interpretation of the Second Amendment, which is somewhat outdated anyway. When will politicians, including President Obama, publicly expose the NRA’s bloody dishonesty and take a bold stand to stop this endless madness?

– Teddy Chen

Oak Creek Tragedy Update 2

The First Lady will visit Oak Creek next Thursday, August 23rd, to meet with family members of those killed and injured in the shooting.

The White House’s Honoring the Victims of the Oak Creek Tragedy and the Dept of Ed’s “Update on the Shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin” lists actions the Administration has taken and suggests those which you can aide and join.

Our friends at SAALT post many actions including send messages of solidarity and support for the victims at GroundswellMovement.org.

Contribute to The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin who setup a victims fund to which people can send donations via postal mail to Victims Memorial Fund c/o Sikh Temple, 7512 S Howell Ave, Oak Creek, WI 53154 as well as the IndieGoGo and Direct Relief‘s similar fund.

Our AAA-Fund Board member and chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus Bel Leong-Hong attended an interfaith service at the Siva Vishnu Temple with the United Hindu Jain Temples of Washington DC.

Please comment with your actions and ideas.

Related Posts

September 19: 1882 Project Celebration

Editor’s Note: The below is from our friends at the 1882 Project, a nonpartisan, grassroots effort to address the Chinese Exclusion Laws. Note our post “House Resolution 683 Regret for Chinese Exclusion Act Passes“.

1882 project

Friends of the 1882 Project,

As you know, both Congressional Resolutions passed in the Senate and the House. Last November we held an event to commemorate the historic milestone of the passage of Senate Resolution 201 which acknowledges the injustice of Chinese Exclusion Laws, first enacted in 1882.

We wish to inform you that a national event will be held to celebrate the passage of House Resolution 683 on Wednesday, September 19, 6:30 to 8:00 pm, at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, DC. We hope that you can join us in this celebration. RSVP by September 12, 2012 to Vivian Yao at