Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Chinese American internment redux

Following up on my earlier post about the US government beginning Chinese American internment of immigrants, I came across this 1999 article by conservative writer John Derbyshire called "Thinking About Internment."

Derbyshire writes for the National Review amongst other publications. This particular piece was for Chronicles. He begins by discussing the vast numbers of Chinese Americans in scientific fields and goes on to say that his wife is a naturalized US citizen from China. He concludes by saying that he would be alright with his wife being interned and that he hopes it would "not be very uncomfortable" since he would be accompanying his wife and kids.

My wife-- who has applied for naturalization-- is a citizen of mainland China; her father is a member of the Chinese Communist Party. Our two children are, as they are already tired of being told, half English coal miner, half Chinese peasant, 100 percent American. Most of our friends (along with my current boss and three of the people who report to me) are mainland Chinese or Taiwanese.

Now let us proceed. The questions I want to address are: in the increasingly thinkable event of a war between China and the United States, what can be said about the loyalties of (a) Chinese nationals in the United States, (b) Taiwanese nationals in the U.S. and (c) people of the Chinese race (I am translating here precisely from the commonplace Chinese term han-zu) born and raised in the United States?

I think this is commonly referred to as the "I have a black/Latino/Asian friend and therefore I have extensive knowledge about all the people in this culture and am a qualified expert who can make sweeping generalizations" argument. Let's see where he goes with this:

So far as mainland nationals are concerned-- including the tens of thousands working in government labs, or pursuing graduate studies on government grants-- I think it can be said with fair certainty that practically all would favor a Chinese victory. Why should anyone think otherwise? Who would expect foreign nationals to support their host country over their homeland? Probing among Chinese colleagues and friends, I find zero spiritual attachment to America. As one of them put it: "America is not really a country. It's just a place people come to from all over to have a good life." Probably many of the Chinese would try to return to China-- though a U.S. government at war would be foolish to allow them to do so, or to remain in their posts. Internment would be the only option. Chinese nationals who have taken out U.S. citizenship should also be regarded as security risks. [Boldface by me for emphasis.]

. . . . . .If you start asking these kinds of questions, someone soon raises the issue of the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II. This is generally regarded as a very disgraceful episode-- the U.S. government interning U.S. citizens for reasons suspiciously racist (German-Americans and Italian-Americans were not interned in anything like such numbers, although many were interned). I must say, I have never thought it was a very deplorable thing to do. [boldface by me]

If you didn't think he was going to go there, you were wrong. He goes on to say that actually some of the camps "were rather comfortable-- they contained beauty parlors, for example, and in at least one case a Kabuki theater."

Why don't we discuss how some of the camps had baseball teams? Really, it's just like normal life, forget about having to give up your job, your freedom, your house, your civil liberties for NO GOOD REASON. It's all okay, because hey, you can still get your nails done! These weren't sleepaway camps for a week, nor were they spa vacations. Even the US Department of Justice says that people were FORCIBLY removed from their homes and separated from family members for years. Whole families shared cramped one room quarters that were poorly constructed.

Even back in 1999, Derbyshire is arguing for the internment of Chinese immigrants "
when the first U.S. carrier is sunk by Chinese action, or the first American city is erased by a Chinese ICBM..." Notice the certainty of the "when" instead of "if."

What of those who call themselves "Chinese-Americans"-- members of the Chinese race who were born here and passed through the American educational system? All those classes on "multiculturalism" and "diversity" they must have sat through: what lesson did they take from them? That their first loyalty is to their ethnic group? What, then, is their second loyalty? To their country of citizenship? Or to the homeland of their ethnic group? The situation is not improved by the fact of ABCs being over-represented in colleges and universities (a state of affairs that becomes even more pronounced as affirmative action in college admissions is outlawed). Our institutes of higher education are the engine-rooms of the multicultural enterprise. Four years at the average university is, as a survey by National Review has found, a most effective way to turn young Americans against their country, its history and traditions. Is it unreasonable to suppose that for some proportion of these people-- five per cent? twenty?-- racial loyalty will trump national allegiance?
Right, I guess the pony in this bigotry is that if me, my friends, my family and almost 3 million Chinese Americans (according to the 2000 Census) were to be interned, we could take solace in Derbyshire being there amongst us preaching that we must
"maintain sufficient detachment to understand that a responsible U.S. government really has no choice in the matter."

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