Asian-American Forum
Spring 2014 Issue no. 21


Editor Note: The editor has decided to include articles submitted to Asian Pacific Americans for Progress (http://www.apaforprogress.org) in this seasonal newsletter. Any cross-posted articles may be identified by name and date submitted, and the reprints here will serve to verify authorship. The particular blog can be accessed here: http://www.apaforprogress.org/blogs/chriswong. To read environmental technology articles published at the Examiner.com, visit http://www.examiner.com/green-technologies-in-washington-dc/christine-kroll. Thanks for your ideas and continued support!

Silence of the Liberal Lambs (Pt 1)


Data by Paul Harstad for Youth Engagement Fund and Project New America[1]

Polls indicate that fewer Americans are expected to vote in midterm elections.

The growing apathy may stem from a variety of reasons:

"I have to focus on finding a job."

"Our lives are in God's hands."

"My vote makes no difference."

Nothing can be further from the truth with regard to any of the above because silence itself is resignation to Fate. An ill enough fate awaits any who do not take steps to ensure that prevailing myths perpetuated by mainstream media are false.

The status quo has already been one which includes shrinking job markets; pension busting; even bypassing environmental laws--meanwhile hundreds of billions are spent in national security and lost in protecting corporate welfare.

Concerned about employment

Our democracy was founded upon the principle that the People had a right to self-determination, and this self-determination is founded upon a participatory government. Only the People, through loud assertations if necessary, can evince the change needed right now in our corrupt government.

For instance, according to a variety of reports, minimum pay has not kept pace with the cost of living. While the national reports of unemployment are recorded as under ten percent, unless you live in a protected enclave, you know that the reality is much different. In some areas of Los Angeles, the unemployment rate is over 80%.

Of course several years ago, the solution to unemployment was to return to college. Such ads no longer pepper Yahoo! or other webpages because going back to school or graduating from college certainly does not resolve the unemployment dilemma when decent jobs and long-term opportunities are not forthcoming.

Instead, one new solution appears to be the 2-year degree, as if people with 4-year degrees lacked the ability to serve an apprenticeship, or higher reasoning skills. As if George Washington Carver's tired farm-hand could embellish upon W.E.B. DuBois's ideals in the Great Debate.

According to one Independent candidate, Marianne Williamson, we need to introduce an amendment or overturn Citizens United so that corporations do not have the right of personhood; we need to get the money out of politics.

Meanwhile Socialists are thankful for Kshama Sawant's principles. The first Asian Socialist Seattle Councilwoman made national news for not only supporting a working minimum pay of $15 per hour, but limiting her own salary to 40,000 per year.

The People can leverage and have a say in reversing our war-driven economy. For instance, in Noam Chomsky's latest book, Nuclear War and Environmental Catastrophe, he describes how the humble indigenous people of Bolivia forced their government away from a scheme to privatize water from the Andes. These people had the sense and fortitude to realize that global warming is shrinking the Bolivian glaciers.

All the infrastructure reports and many analysts have been clamoring for government investment here at home where unofficial unemployment can exceed 35%. Incidentally, only governments have traditionally been willing to support the kinds of beneficial visionary projects which support the People over the long-term, because when catastrophes hit, private businesses mostly look to the government to bail them out.

This article is just one facet of a three-fold argument which must continue. But please use your education to think with your feet, learn about the issues, and volunteer to get others to vote!

Resources:
1. Blake, Aaron. "Only half of young Obama voters are prepared to vote for Democrats," Washington Post, May 15, 2014.
2. Marianne Williamson, "Marianne for Congress," http://www.marianneforcongress.com/.
3. Northwest Asian Weekly, "Kshama Sawant" http://www.nwasianweekly.com/tag/kshama-sawant/.
Submitted to Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, May 2014

Silence of the Liberal Lambs (Pt 2)

by Christine H. Wong

Our lives are in God's hands[1]

Many Asian and minority students arrive in college with few resources, compared with some of their Caucasian or well-to-do peers. They may not own a car, and have comparatively less spending money. Worse are sometimes the unreasonable expectations of authoritarian parents, who dictate what courses or activities their sons and daughter may participate in.

This is on top of the expectations of neoconservative conformity by divisive adults and peers, who too often try to brow-beat Asians into "successful" minority typecasts, manipulating individual attempts to explore alternative perspectives or new identities.

It's not an uncommon myth that Asian students study, study, study. They may have even less of a choice nowadays because of cutbacks in paid internships which once were a guarantor of, if not pocket money, an opportunity to view their world from the outside.

However, where once the world beyond might have been enlightening, neoliberal thinktanks and appointees, including board members from corporations are doing their best to ensure that universities transform into business-oriented crucibles.[2]

Asian college students have always been objects of harassment among peers. For instance, while white students might have been friends in high school, upon entering university, their desire to network upwards causes them to turn their backs upon minorities. Everyone becomes commodified.

Conformity at all costs, or nonconformity with great costs, is the choice facing Asian students, and frequently the former is preferable. Nonconformity is not just a passing fad for Asian students; it is accompanied by ostracism by one's own parents and sibling, or other relations. The punitive costs can be exceedingly high:

"You can't live with us!"

"We don't want you here!"

Unreasonable parents unknowingly thrust their children to the wolves or don't care:

"You are over 18, so solve your own problems yourself!"

Accompanied by a host of other excuses, nonconforming or otherwise, Asian students may seek to stay in the dormitories even during school breaks--they have no where else to go. College appears to be a safer place.

Of course that is no longer exactly the case. With public universities able to offer less meaningful self-supporting jobs to students, students are turning to the blackmarket for extra "quick" money. Peddling drugs, prostitution, nearby massage parlors, hacking, and identity thefts make even the most prestigious schools dirty, ugly, and unsafe.[3] And as the recent tragedy in Isla Vista neighborhood near UC Santa Barbara indicates, sharing off-campus housing can also be unsafe.

Our consumptive society has become far too narcissistic to care about what students make of themselves as long as they appear successful at the end.[4]

It seems that especially for Asians, when they don't make it (all the way: graduate with honors, find a lucrative job, get married appropriately, have beautiful children, live in a luxury home) their parents blame their children, claiming it is their fault.

Loser Asians who have fewer Asian friends to turn to for support, translating into less safe places to stay, and with no gainful job may become homeless. There is such diversity among the homeless, but the women tend to die young. The stigma forces them to wander the country knocking on relatives' doors.

You can only be dependent upon relations or friends for so long though; our society has become too narcissistic, and empathy and friendship has waned in the era of today's Orwellian Big Brother and Sisterhood.

One day, you wake up to find that all your friend or relative now cares about is shopping and watching T.V., and that those concerns have become front and center. They no longer give a damn about politics, nature, a walk in the park, reading poetry, or visiting a public space. They expect you to not give a damn either.

To your surprise, you have discovered that the World Bank, IMF, and austerity-favoring elitists have struck it rich once again: another heartless soul has joined their ranks.

Now you can go sleep on the park bench if there are any public parks left in your town; that is, until the police lock you up for loitering.[5]

Need I mention that when they pick on Asians it can be just a bit worse than with white people, since they don't have to worry about their relative sticking up for them?

And then, you wonder why some Asians are depressed.

Maybe, like too many others, they have been robbed of any attempt in "re-imagining a society in which democracy lives up to its promises and ideals."[6]

Notes:
1. "Silence of the Liberal Lambs (Pt 1)," http://www.apaforprogress.org/silence-liberal-lambs-pt-1
2. Henry A. Giroux, "Beyond Neoliberal Miseducation," p. 3 of 6, http://theglobalrealm.com/2014/04/24/beyond-neoliberal-miseducation/
3. Emily Co, "Students Sell Sex to Pay Off Student Loans," http://www.savvysugar.com/Students-Sell-Sex-Pay-Off-School-Loans-18542353
4. Jamil Zaki, "What, Me Care? Young are Less Empathetic," http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-me-care/?page=1
5. Henry A. Giroux, "Casino Capitalism and Higher Education," p. 1 of 5, http://theglobalrealm.com/2011/11/01/casino-capitalism-and-higher-education/
6. Henry A. Giroux, "Beyond Neoliberal Miseducation," ibid., p. 4 of 6

Earth Day 2014: War the Wrong Kind of Green

According to Secretary of State John Kerry, the world needs to engage in punitive action against Russia because it has invaded the Ukraine. Let's be unmindful of the fact that the Unites States has military advisors and armed forces in 120 other countries simply as a matter of course.[1]

Rather than a conciliatory or peaceful stance, U.S. leaders are adopting a big-stick approach to nuclear powered Russia. With unqualified U.S. support NATO forces have moved towards the Western Ukraine border, and the U.S. and NATO plan to conduct military exercises in the Black Sea this June.[2]

The World Bank (and IMF) and Western nations appear to have a lot to gain by trying to weaken Russia: they want unfettered access to all countries with black gold. The fossil fuels of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and even Russia are beckoning the corporate syndicates to use national armed forces to secure state assets and resources once again.[3]

These kinds of pushy attitudes and behavior would qualify as bullying if nations were people (which they are since the Citizens United ruling that corporations are people). In today's hypocritical society, it is fine to be a bully if you come from the right family or political party.[4]

More than once, Russia has opted to intervene in the path towards world peace. This year's Nobel Prize, free of Western prejudice, ought to be rewarded to President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov for peace talks on Syria, and for the about face with regard to Western sanctions.[5]

But how can anyone continue to promote peace under threat of constant bullying and harassment? If the U.S. were a person (and it is), we are simply asking for it. Personally, I wouldn't want that kind of punch on the face; except, here, it could be a gigantic punch on the face of Earth.

Obviously, the U.S. and Western allies believe that this kind of rhetoric (rhetoric means to persuade and inform, not lies and intimidation) of tough talk and promotion of armed aggression works.

But actually it doesn't work as evidenced by the success of associated austerity measures in undermining the middle class and promoting unrest.

War is not effective, and it is definitely not kind to the Earth. In fact, in observation of Earth Day, I will cite some interesting rhetoric including from "War is a Lie" by activist-author David Swanson, whose book is filled with effectively presented arguments on why war is also the wrong kind of green:

Regarding the U.S-backed rebel attacks and war in Syria, so far:
"The war has claimed more than 100,000 lives in fighting since March 2011 and some 9 million have been displaced or forced to seek refuge in neighboring countries." [6]

Regarding the wars in Iraq:
"Two intense wars and many years of bombing and deprivation later, the evil ruler of Iraq was gone, but we’d spent trillions of dollars; a million Iraqis were dead; four million were displaced and desperate and abandoned; violence was everywhere; sex trafficking was on the rise; the basic infrastructure of electricity, water, sewage, and healthcare was in ruins (in part because of the U.S. intention to privatize Iraq’s resources for profit); life expectancy had dropped; cancer rates in Fallujah surpassed those in Hiroshima."[7]

"The mutilation of bodies, whatever drives it in each case, is a fairly common practice in war, although engaged in mostly by people who were not inclined to murderous violence prior to joining the military."[8]

"The damage of our wars in the global battlefield outlasts the memories of elderly survivors. We leave landscapes pock-marked with bomb craters, oil fields ablaze, seas poisoned, ground water ruined. We leave behind, and in the bodies of our own veterans, Agent Orange, depleted uranium, and all the other substances designed to kill people quickly but carrying the side-effect of killing people slowly."[9]

"We routinely dump over half of our discretionary public spending into the military, and any additional trillions will be found or borrowed — no questions asked."[10]

"We also have war on our minds...War is in our toys, our movies, our television shows. And it’s a huge part of our economy and of our institutions of higher learning...The military funds and consults on Hollywood movies...and arranges to be honored before and during major sporting events...Through this infiltration of every corner of our country, war is made to appear normal, sane, safe, and sustainable."[11]

"The environment as we know it will not survive nuclear war. It also may not survive “conventional” war, understood to mean the sorts of wars we now wage. Intense damage has already been done by wars and by the research, testing, and production done in preparation for wars."[12]

"Most of the migratory birds that used to pass through Afghanistan no longer do so. Its air and water have been poisoned with explosives and rocket propellants."[13]

"The wars themselves, whether or not fought for oil, consume huge quantities of it. The world’s top consumer of oil, in fact, is the U.S. military...The U.S. military burns through about 340,000 barrels of oil each day. If the Pentagon were a country, it would rank 38th in oil consumption."[14]

Consider also this point in fact:
The United States uses the most oil in the world--about 20 million barrels each day. That's 840 million gallons of oil every single day![15]

“The U.S. Department of [War] is the world’s worst polluter, belching, dumping, and spilling more pesticides, defoliants, solvents, petroleum, lead, mercury, and depleted uranium than the five biggest American chemical corporations combined."[16]

Consider also this point in fact:
"About 6 million tons of petroleum end up in earth's waters every year."[17]

The list of subtractions from being able to counter global climate change, promote sustainable energy products, new green economies, and massive corruption-free stimulus investment for local levels awaits further discussion.

Notes:
1."UNAC Statement on the Situation in Ukraine and Venezuela," UNAC, https://www.unacpeace.org/
2. "Black Sea: U.S. to Deploy Guided Missile Ship Against Russia," Stop Nato (blog), April 3, 2014, http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/black-sea-u-s-to-deploy-guided-missile-warship-against-russia/.
3. "Black Sea: Pentagon's Gateway to Three Continents and the Middle East," Stop Nato (blog), August 27, 2009, http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/tag/black-sea/.
4. "Public Citizen Presses to Overturn Citizens United," Public Citizen, http://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=4788.
5. "Pope Francis Discusses Ongoing War in Syria," Catholic Herald, November 26, 2013, http://www.catholicherald.co.uk /news/2013/11/26/pope-francis-discusses-ongoing-war-in-syria-with-vladimir-putin/.
6. Wooden, Cindy, "Pope Francis Discusses Ongoing War in Syria," Ibid.
7. War is a Lie, DavidSwanson.org, 2010, Adobe Digital e-book, 21.
8. Ibid., 126.
9. Ibid., 195.
10. Ibid., 224.
11. Ibid., 225.
12. Ibid., 229.
13. Ibid., 234.
14. Ibid., 234.
15. Reilly, Kathleen, Energy, Chicago: Nomad Press, 2009, 36.
16. War is a Lie, Ibid., quote from Ted Rall, 234.
17. Reilly, Kathleen, Ibid., 42.
18. Also visit War is a Crime, http://warisacrime.org/.

Submitted to Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, April 2014

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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