Asian-American Forum
Summer 2014 Issue no. 22


Editor's Foreword: In this issue a major theme is how citizen apathy and climate change have become matters of conscience. For example, the fact that APAforProgress.org website has shut down is a dilemma worth exploring. Forms of self-censorship have expanded due to our capitalist-style education (filled with busy-work) and the vulgarization of technology. For instance, mantras glorifying capitalist success and fame dominate both fictional and nonfictional programs, often in ways which rob students of their innocence at young ages. Discourses about peace and disarmament have been expunged. So in our series,"Silence of the Liberal Lambs--Pt 3", we argue on the need to vote for change. After all, can we truly invest in a culture in which charity is only for self-aggrandizement? The article "Undeclared Culture War on Nature" explores how blind we have become with regard to growing our communities and fostering neighborhood dialogue. "NYC Climate Convergence leads up People's Climate March" is one of a series of articles at the Examiner.com on climate change activism. Finally, this APA newsletter closes with a report about Al Jazeera America and the growth of this media station as a fresh alternative.

Exploring the APAforProgress Website Closure

For those of you who don't know, the Asian Pacific Americans for Progress website is shut down. When you try to visit the site (www.apaforprogress.org), the message on the server is "500 Internal Server Error."

According to the editor, Calvin Prashad, the board has disbanded--at least for now.

So much for growing the only open platform website dedicated to Asian Pacific Americans of any color, creed, talent, or ability who want to share an honest opinion on current events and progressive politics.

Background

Asian Pacific Americans for Progress (APAP) website was formed in 2008 by owner Curtis Chin as an accompaniment to his successful launch of "Vincent Who?" that included air time on national major media stations.

The movies "Vincent Who?" and "Who Killed Vincent Chin?" continue to help memorialize the untimely death of Vincent Chin, a young engineering graduate who was beaten to death in Detroit, Michigan on June 19, 1982.

This case dismissal sparked the modern Asian-American movement, the precursor to today's Asian-American political organizing.

In 2012 the APAforProgress founders, Curtis Chin and friends, organized the thirty year anniversary tribute, which was well attended by many legendary Asian movement and recent political leaders. The APAforProgress website, thanks to Francis Kai-Hwa Wang, featured many outstanding entries and tweets by younger participants now archived at Remembering Vincent Chin.

Dissolution, but not quite

On the issue of organizing, there has been a great effort on the part of this generation to act cohesively.

Everyone should have their fair share of say regarding painful issues, and yet we must still be grateful when anyone makes the effort to create a timeline, record of events, assemble recollections on storify, or pen an article.

Our attitude, despite a variety of perspectives, ought to be, "We will never stop talking about this, it doesn't matter how old the issue has become, or who is trying to compete for distribution or apply new labels," if we are to appear even half-way as organized as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The Danny Chen (2011) case was just one more example of racially motivated violence, whether it's a lynching or gunning down, psychological harassment or racial profiling--of any child, woman, or man. Other examples occur even at our workplaces and schools.

Harassment, character assassination, torture, bullying are abusive behaviors which ought to be outlawed by the United Nations Charter because they interfere with individual human rights, the idea that we are all created equal under Heaven's Mandate.

The issue under which Asian Pacific Americans for Progress website was founded hasn't died. We haven't yet vindicated Danny Chen, although he might be grateful that a street sign in Manhattan's Chinatown is now named after him.

Today's APA organizations hone soft issues

Millions of men and women continue to face difficult, time-consuming issues, hard issues that rightfully deserve extensive media coverage, major or minor.

Hard issues include: human trafficking, poverty, unemployment, torture, abuse, murder, suicide, gangs, drug smuggling, globalization, wars, the Asian Pivot, and homelessness.

These are life-threatening issues compared with soft issues which have received more wide-spread major media support. Soft issues, more centrist in nature, help politicians score easier political victories, while allowing Democrats to brush aside hard issues or even censor them.

Soft issues include: promoting diversity, college entrance, minimum wage, equal opportunity, immigration, stereotyping, healthcare, assimilation, voting.

This is not to say that soft issues don't matter--in fact, by shear numbers they may matter more in how they directly affect Asian Pacific Americans. However, we must recognize that many Asian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) now tacitly support the globalization movement that began with President Reagan in the 1980s.

According to Thom Hartmann in Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country:

The post-Reagan era has been particularly destructive to our economy because we not only mostly eliminated the tariffs but we also became “free trade” proponents on the international stage. After Reagan blew out our tariffs in the 1980s and Clinton kicked the door off the hinges with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and World Trade Organization (WTO), our average tariffs are now around 2 percent. The predictable result has been the hemorrhaging of American manufacturing capacity to those countries that do protect their industries through high import tariffs but allow exports on the cheap—particularly China and South Korea.

Both these countries have a vested interest in propping up their presence in the United States. They want to send their best families here; however, recognizing how the nature of their wealth is interrelated with free trade, they donate generously to have others speak out for them on mostly soft issues--mostly touching middle-class goals.

Some of the trendiest Asian magazines and websites have even become cultural ambassadors for the Far East, and South East. Deeper issues of Americanism don't seem to matter as much as being able to shop America and promote Asia-style Hollywood.

At Asian-American Forum, we have striven to promote the belief that our involvement as Progressives must embrace the intersecting issues of Asian Pacific Americans, socialist American and international concerns, and collective minority group challenges.

For example, climate change is the top challenge in this 21st century. Coupled with the soft recovery, it has begun to impact huge numbers of Asian Pacific Americans. Businesses either have to scale back, adapt, or consider relocating. Families will be forced to reconsider if they can afford to send their children to college, and where.

However the globalist and privatization market forces in control of our democracy today, whether Asian manufacturers and their stooge politicians, American corporations and our stooge politicians, insist on reassuring us that everything is fine.

We need more open, honest democratic discussions and townhall meetings, advocacy for funding so that our businesses can use grants for actively implementing Plan B.

Protest closure or volunteer

APAs should not sit silently by, allow others to make decisions for us, allow our civil liberties to continue to erode, allow our right to voice our opinions or allow our desire to protest wrong-doings, to be quashed.

We should protest any kind of censorship, even the lack of access to archives where we have copywritten materials--materials which are our intellectual property.

If you feel as I do, please petition Blogger@apaforprogress or Webmaster@apaforprogress.org to ask them to re-open the website.

Volunteer your valuable time to see what you can do to genuinely grow APAP whether as a future board member, blogger, web content manager, designer, or project funder.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/APAforProgress and consider joining for the price of $20 per year, less than the price to attend a concert or football game.

Visit Black Lava, the affiliate commercial shopping site, for buying Asian-Activist tee-shirts, mugs, books, and DVDs.

Let the world know that Progressive APAs have backbone and pride!

Finally, try to access cached pages of www.apaforprogress.org. You can do this at http://www.viewcached.com/ and explore the different options. (To visit your former blog's cached pages use www.apaforprogress.org/blogs/[blogname].) Good luck!


Silence of the Liberal Lambs (Pt 3)


Image from Politics, Priorities, Psychology & Hope WITHIN the Black Community

This is a continuation of previous installments of "Silence of the Liberal Lambs." In Part 1, voting apathy is weighed against the challenges of unemployment. In Part 2, some of the reasons for despair among younger voters are contextualized with respect to neoliberalism's war on higher education. In Part 3, the case for apathy is compared with the need for fixing an increasingly broken state.[1]

"My Vote Doesn't Count"

Case for Apathy

More political pundits than ever believe that citizen votes are being thrown over just as soon as politicians take office. We have all heard such excuses as "It was just rhetoric," or "Need to learn the ropes," or "Must vote with the Party."

With the American two-party system long stymied over infrastructure spending bills, meanwhile speedily agreeing on necessary defense appropriations, it is no wonder that voters feel apathetic. The showdown last year will probably repeat itself this year since the economic woes of many cities doesn't affect Congress when it comes to vacations.

Our legislators don't care about their constituents as much as they listen to the big lobbyists. They have even adopted appropriate disciplinary actions for the little people. False flag events, manipulating the price of fuel, and other political conflagrations.

With the mainstream media providing as little coverage as possible on grassroots protesters and issues at stake, consumers who passively identify with representational objects and iconic images, who escape rather than confront, are the fashionable norm.

Voting isn't necessary in the age of the SuperPACs, especially when Republican and Democratic politicians hold winner takes all positions in comparison with third-party candidates who struggle to raise the needed signatures, funds, and votes.

Repairing the Machine

Becoming involved not just as a voter is essential for repairing the emerging broken state. You wouldn't abandon your car just because it is broken.

According to Ralph Nader in his latest book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State, many progressives, independents, and traditional conservatives must rally around core issues of concern touching the lives of every day citizens in order to reclaim our democracy.[2].

Again and again, these core issues cluster around the neoliberal agenda which sacrifices the good of the people, substituting in its place overarching emphasis on profits, business restructuring, protections for corporate welfare, and the expansion of international monopolies.[3] For instance, secret negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will allow corporations and their financiers to "undermine our laws which protect us."[4]

In the book Unstoppable, and at the Left-Right Convergence event on May 27th at the Carnegie Institute, common ground issues were raised: the commercialization of childhood, raising the minimum wage, auditing the Defense Budget, ending corporate personhood, revising trade agreements to protect US sovereignty, and establishing "rigorous procedures to evaluate the claims of businesses looking for a government handout, which would end most corporate welfare and bailouts."

However just as routine vehicle maintenance can help owners understand and prevent break down on the road, so must voters be able to appreciate the myriad of rhetorical strategies practiced by politicians and those in mainstream media.

One useful instruction manual is Democracies to Come by Rachel Riedner and Kevin Mahoney. This book, which analyzes the rhetoric of protest movements, has among its goals teaching the identification of "excess, gaps, differences, and openings" in neoliberalist marketing and behind its purported arguments, purposes, imagery.

By studying the methods of past movement leaders (such as the Zapatistas in Mexico), we can spot rhetorical devices such as doublespeak, red herring, cult of personality, abstraction, divisiveness, double standard, intimidation, false flag, false appeals, begging the question, poisoning the well, while creating useful counterarguments.

Your Vote and Actions Do Matter

Your vote and actions do matter because our needs continue to go unnoticed, and as progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann has amusingly asserted, "our economy right now is held together by rubber bands."

As revered dissident scholars and journalists ascend the pantheon, it will be critical for educated voters to learn how to shout until we "are heard."

In a plenary at the U.S. International Socialist Organization's 2014 conference in Chicago, author and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman stated:

“Those who care about war and peace, those who are concerned about the growing disparity between rich and poor, those who are concerned about the environment, about climate change, about the fate of the planet, are not a ‘fringe minority’.

“Not even a ‘silent majority’ but a silenced majority. Silenced by the corporate media which is why we have to take it back.”

In just a few months, there will be mid-term elections, and it's not too soon to learn about the issues.

Here's a start: Visit Reclaim Our Democracy to learn more about why our democracy is in trouble, and what you can do as a responsible citizen.[5]

Notes:
1. "Silence of the Liberal Lambs (Pt 1 & 2)," http://www.aafspring14.blu-geese.org
2. Nader, Ralph, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State
3. For a brief overview, read "What is Neoliberalism?" at CorpsWatch
4. Mitch Jones, "What is TPP? How Secret Trade Deals Hurt Our Families," Video, Food and Water Watch .
5. Reclaim Our Democracy, http://reclaimdemocracy.org/, & http://reclaimdemocracy.org/what-you-can-do/
6. This article originally appeared at OpEdNews.com and is reprinted with permission by the author.

Undeclared Culture War on Nature


Image of Blood Moon from Grant's Grove by Ryan Watamura at www.space.com[1]


During the lunar eclipse on April 15th, as the shadow of Earth passed across the Moon, a strange quiet coincided with silent motion. While darkness crept over the Earth, silence reigned among its nonhumans. We had a front seat view of the luminary passage--didn't even need technology to enhance our experience.

Eastern conceptions of time are based upon looking backwards. This backwardness has helped preserve many a thousand-year historic temple from complete ruin; protected watersheds from drainage; located housing in town villages; people didn't mind walking several miles to reach their farms. Eastern celebrations of Nature are reflected in a myriad of ink-brush paintings.

However today ancient cultures continue to be assaulted by the West. Addicted to buying this or that, ethnically craven, sexualized, and militarized populaces are enslaved by contradictory impulses and compulsions rather than motivated to protect the Earth in accord with traditions.

Uptown teens talk about good as a "K-12" joke, while campuses are hashtags for animalism, competition, envy, and academic hunger games. Compliments are depopulated by insults.

Broadcast T.V. stations, dependent on artificial satellites floating above Earch, ironically make obsolete the number and presence of Nature shows.

Does the West's tendency to denigrate Nature originate from the Bible? It is recorded in Genesis:

And God said, 'And now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us. They will have power over the fish, the birds, and all animals, domestic and wild, large and small.'[2]

Human dominion over the fish, the birds, and all the wild animals, and by extension, over vegetation and the environment has become so pernicious that the mainstream media culture has outlawed discussions of the root causes of overpopulation and possible future consequences.

Commercial mainstream media as culture means the number of shows focusing on crime, violence, sex, drugs, and music celebrating has exploded since the early 1980s, coinciding with the corporate take-over of the music industry; subsumed within the big six.[3]

Keep the public mesmerized and sedated by mind-numbing, morally enervating entertainment and they will not worry about being underinformed, false dilemmas, and other distractions designed to conceal, for instance, the magnitude of problems or ineptitudes in governments.

The few independent major media left in the world are a boon to humankind; there can be Truth, Benevolence, and Purity, as seen at DaAi Buddhist T.V. station.[4] Students who revere Nature learn to reject the call of the taxidermist, and allow the phoenix to survive unmolested. People who respect themselves foster dreams of noble opportunities to love with their lives their towns as their own, thereby becoming free of over-propagating in order to feed themselves.

Of course the wasteful ways of the West do have their counterparts; Asian slums are the developments of solid waste exported from abroad, but also increasingly, as in China, stem from rapidly rising rates of disposable purchases--along with associated plastic junk.[5][6]

There are groups who are trying to rein in the throw-away habits of fast-paced lifestyles. Tzu Chi organization around the world logs in millions of hours a year in volunteer recycling programs. In Singapore, litter patrol volunteers can even issue warrants for littering, even though persuasion may be more the name in the game. In Japan, Greenbird is an international movement to "keep clean, keep green" by trashpicking even along fashionable streets and boulevards.[7][8][9]

Maybe the concept of a peaceful heart and mind, emanating from oneself towards family and community together with environmentalism, is quietly growing. In Sweden "every citizen meticulously separates his/her household waste and recycles appropriately." The European Union has even set target in household waste production at 300 Kg per capita per year.[10]

Notes:
1. Space.com, "Blood Moon Photos: Total Lunar Eclipse from April 15, 2014," http://www.space.com/25488-total-lunar-eclipse-photos-april-2014.html
2. Bible, Genesis 1:26, Good News Translation, American Bible Society
3. Michael Snyder, "Who Owns the Media?," The Economic Collapse (blog), October 4, 2010, http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/who-owns-the-media-the-6-monolithic-corporations-that-control-almost-everything-we-watch-hear-and-read
4. Tsu Chi Culture and Communication Foundation, "English News," http://www.daai.tv/daai-web/news/content.php?id=949648
Note: The term Forbearance is more commonly used by Falun Dafa. Ouyang Fei in "Forbearance Manifests Through Truthfulness and Benevolence" states: "People all say Forbearance is 'a knife in the heart' because the Chinese character for 'Forbearance' is made up of a knife symbol above the heart symbol. The word describes the pain of cutting the heart or cutting through bones. Indeed, Forbearance means sacrifice, persistence, endurance, and accomplishing something others cannot accomplish." Ouyang Fei associates Forbearance with great tolerance under the most trying of conditions.
5. Vicfar, "Exporting Garbage: We Lead the World," January 25, 2006, Epinions
6. Sarah Zhang, "Charts: What Your Trash Reveals About the World Economy," July 16, 2012, MotherJones.com
7. Tsu Chi, Ibid.
8. Chang Ai-Lien, "Volunteers' Passion is Keeping Singapore Clean," November 3, 2013, If Only Singaporeans Stopped to Think, Blogspot
9. Greenbird, Japan, http://www.greenbird.jp/
10. Vicfar, Ibid.
11. This article first appeared at Examiner.com and is a reprint.

We Need Our Own Maya Angelou!


Dr. Angelou on Sesame Street from Mayaangelou.com


Who will be our Maya Angelou?

We have a Maya L., the Architect, whose stature and gentleness evokes the Lady in White. We have a Maxine, the Warrior whose voice is both a memory and a dream. We have unsung gifted male writers: Byron Yee, Beau Sia, so many others.

But no central unifying figure around whom a solid, anthologizing should occur, led by Asians; Yellow Asian voices; screaming, laughing, sobbing, aspiring for all;

not that tome of the semester-long course for the memorialized white establishment.

Where is our Jamaica Kincaid?

A girl, forever young, hanging up the laundry in Hainan, dreaming, singing songs;

Her yearnings spurring within us hope, bonding, and action;

not for the sake of a boring exam,

not as part of our senseless read-a-thon

(remember: only one book can lead you to heaven),

not for the act of showing off,

or proving assimilation;

We need Jamaica's innocence to remember as ours, one free of the strictures of diversity gate-keepers;

Who tie our writing opportunities up into cliquish knots; dividing and sorting us among the museum bramble; picking out only a few roses, stray blossoms

Long ago, Maya's ancestors realized that the only way to rise above the cage was to spread the word through the power of their own pulpits, news, and publishers;

Or stand on street corners, dressed in black and reciting the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar;

Who would wait far too long if they had to all get degrees, secure awards, gain entry into a closed white market;

We ALL know what certain AWARDS really stand for: the END of the dream.

Maya rose above the crowd only to reach down and put more ladders into place as a humanitarian, activist, and poet;

Well, she is the SYMBOL of that warm, welcoming soul who unites rather than divides, who won't allow others to create phantasms that divide rather than unite.

Whose motherhood is the soul for all mothers, fathers, sons, and lest we forget,

Jamaicas, dreaming for an opportunity to share their song;

Just so others might join with the Muse of song and dance!


Poem by chriswong and submitted to Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, June 2014

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