diaCRITICIZE: this is my rifle, this is my gun…

…this is for fighting, this is for fun.

This is an article about the recent massacre of six Sikh Americans by a white supremacist US Army veteran, but I begin with this, a United States Marine Corps chant to remind new recruits in boot camp that their weapon was not just a GUN, but more importantly a RIFLE. Military types and weapons specialists care about these distinctions. Stanley Kubrick satirized the unconscious psychosexual energies behind wielding a gun in Full Metal Jacket, when Marine recruits parade with their weapons doing this chant of “This is my rifle, this is my gun, this is for fighting, this is for fun.” They seize their crotches at “gun” and “fun.” When I showed it to my students, some were puzzled at how to interpret this moment that seems so clear to me. The rifle is a phallus, an extension of the rock-hard cock, and in Kubrick’s film, the narrative is completed in the battle for Hue, when a female sniper castrates the Marine squad by killing a few. She herself is surrounded and killed by the surviving Marines in a moment that the critic Susan Jeffords, in The Remasculinization of America: Gender and the Vietnam War, calls a symbolic gang rape.  The fact that the killing and the rape are not just about gender and sexuality but race and nation is fairly obvious.

“…This is my rifle, this is my gun…”

Why am I thinking of this? Because just when I thought I had gotten some anger out of myself,  there are now more things to get me angry. The Batman massacre in Aurora, Colorado, which happened the night before I saw The Dark Knight Rises (my tickets bought in advance). Then the massacre of Sikh people in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, yesterday of the day I am writing this, when an Army veteran and white supremacist invaded a temple and killed six before being killed himself. This is not a post about gun control, as I am sure my position on gun control is evident, and nothing I say will change any minds. This is instead about pointing to the direct line from the core of American culture and history to the Viet Nam War to the Oak Creek massacre and a couple of other massacres many of us have already forgotten about.

First: Americans conquer people, okay? For the obvious reasons of territory, resources, and power, but for the more controversial reasons of culture, hate, and psyche. Richard Slotkin argues that American culture and masculinity are built on the need for “regeneration through violence,” which means that American men see mastering violence as a necessary test of their masculinity and, eventually, patriotism. They master violence in using it against the frontier, the wilderness, and its inhabitants, the others to (American) civilization. Eventually (and here this is my argument and that of many others) that frontier crosses the Pacific to the Philippines and Asia, culminating in the Viet Nam War. In the American confrontation with Asia, “Orientalism” merges with regeneration through violence, meaning that American soldiers use their violence and prove their heterosexual manhood by killing, raping, and conquering Orientals. In the US, when we say “Oriental” and the “Orient,” we think of East and Southeast Asia, but when Edward Said wrote Orientalism, he was discussing French and British Orientalism, which defined the Orient as the Near and Middle East. So the massacre of Sikhs in Wisconsin by a white veteran supremacist is only the culmination of a complex history of Orientalism that has been blended with American historical and cultural urges towards white supremacy.

Another direct expression of homicidal American Orientalism was the 1989 Stockton, California, massacre of four Cambodian children and one Vietnamese child in an elementary schoolyard, committed by one Patrick Purdy. In looking for some online information about this massacre, which happened when I was in college near Stockton, I discovered that the first hit for the keywords Stockton, massacre, Patrick Purdy is a site called Murderpedia.org. I’m glad we have enough murders to require an encyclopedia. Here are some tidbits:

“Patrick Purdy, a disturbed drifter and former Stockton resident, opened fire on the school playground with a Chinese-made Type 56 semi-automatic rifle, killing five children and wounding twenty-nine others and a teacher…. Four of the dead children were Cambodian, one was Vietnamese. Most were born in Thailand in refugee camps as their parents fled the genocidal regime of Cambodian ruler Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.”

Here are their names: Raphanar Or, Ran Chun, Sokhim An, Oeun Lim and Thuy Tran. Who remembers them now?

But that was 1989. That is ancient history. Most of my students were not even born in 1989. Then what about Jiverly Wong, aka Jiverly Voong? Who remembers him? And his infamous feat happened in 2009. As it happens, Murderpedia.org does remember. Here are some tidbits:

“The perpetrator…was 41-year-old Jiverly Antares Wong (December 8, 1967 – April 3, 2009), a resident of Johnson City, New York. Wong was born into an ethnic Chinese (Hoa) family in South Vietnam. He first came to New York in the late 1980s before moving to California…Several sources suggested possible motivations for Wong’s actions, including feelings of being “degraded and disrespected” for his poor English language ability, frustration over losing his job, and difficulty in finding work in New York. Wong had also allegedly made comments such as “America sucks” and talked about assassinating the president, to his former co-workers at Shop Vac…The Binghamton shootings took place on Friday, April 3, 2009, at the American Civic Association immigration center in Binghamton, New York, United States. At approximately 10:30 a.m. EDT, a naturalized immigrant Jiverly Antares Wong (aka Jiverly Voong) entered the facility and shot numerous people inside. Fourteen people were ultimately confirmed dead, including the shooter, and four were wounded in the incident.”

Here is a list of the dead:

  • Parveen Ali, age 26, a migrant from northern Pakistan

  • Almir Olimpio Alves, age 43, a Brazilian Ph.D. in Mathematics and visiting scholar at SUNY Binghamton, attending English classes at the Civic Association

  • Marc Henry Bernard, age 44, a migrant from Haiti

  • Maria Sonia Bernard, age 46, a migrant from Haiti

  • Li Guo, age 47, a visiting scholar from China

  • Lan Ho, age 39, a migrant from Vietnam

  • Layla Khalil, age 53, an Iraqi mother of three children

  • Roberta King, age 72, an English language teacher who was substituting for a vacationing teacher

  • Jiang Ling, age 22, a migrant from China

  • Hong Xiu “Amy” Mao Marsland, age 35, a nail technician who migrated from China in 2006

  • Dolores Yigal, age 53, a recent immigrant from the Philippines

  • Hai Hong Zhong, age 54, a migrant from China

  • Maria Zobniw, age 60, a part-time caseworker at the Civic Association, originally from Ukraine

So here is a case of what Malcolm X calls the chickens coming home to roost. He was talking about the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, and for anyone who follows Vietnamese history, the particular chicken returning to the coop was the assassination of South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem just a few months earlier, authorized by Kennedy. Malcolm X took a certain pleasure in making his pronouncement, but the problem with chickens coming home to roost is that chickens are not particularly intelligent animals (are they?). To press the metaphor, they’re not homing pigeons. They’re not precise. They can come to roost in your backyard as well as anyone else’s. So Jiverly Wong is an example of this, a hybrid product of American adventurism in Asia combined with an assimilation into an American culture predicated on the necessity of violence, particularly against foreign others, either outside the country or inside. So we have the obvious irony: a racialized immigrant killing other racialized immigrants, expressing all kinds of psychic contradictions and complications. I am not arguing that this explains everything about Jiverly Wong, or any mass killer. Perhaps he was ill. I’ve seen enough mental illness to know that we do not deal with it adequately in American culture. Who knows what else was going on in Wong’s mind, or Purdy’s? But even insane people pick their targets for a reason. Perhaps one motivation for Jiverly Wong was to express his rage at the very (im)possibility of Americanization and those who would aspire to the thing that he could not obtain, except by picking up a gun and killing a lot of innocent people.

What is more frightening than insane people are sane people who kill people. Isn’t that why the first reflex that many have on hearing of mass murders is to describe the perpetrators as insane? Au contraire. I speculate that many of them are quite sane, and it is their rationality that is truly terrifying, the consequence of centuries of European-American history and the intersection with Asians, Orientals, immigrants, others. The Wisconsin shooter may or may not have been insane, but he was the product of a rational American culture that prioritized the necessity of violence, guns, and using them. Mass murder in the end is always both irrational and rational. Irrational, because things have gotten out of control and can backfire, but rational, because the act is a historically specific expression of an entire culture and system. So the Holocaust was not just some aberration of insane people; it was the irrational expression of rational thinking taken to the extreme. So the American culture of mass murder, overseas and domestically, is not an aberration, and its incidents are not to be regarded with the astonishment that is always paraded: it couldn’t happen here, he was the nicest guy, and so on. The fact of the matter is that nice guys commit murder all the time. Sometimes it is as an individual massacring American civilians. Other times it is as a US soldier in an American military whose entire training apparatus since World War II has been scientifically tuned and dedicated to turning nice, average American boys into killers.

This Army veteran, the Wisconsin shooter, was probably a nice, average American boy at some time. Now he will be held up by the press and the politicians as an example not of regenerative violence but of degenerative violence. Still, I am sure there will be some out there who will see him as an example of necessary regeneration, the purging of nonwhite, non-Christian elements from a supposedly white and Christian country. Jiverly Wong, however, will never be a candidate for such martyrdom. He, like most men of color who exercise violence outside of the law, will always be an example of degenerative violence.

I have no desire to change that mythology, to argue that equality in this country will have to come from the barrels of guns wielded by heroic men of color. I write this only to say that the pressures of Americanization are exerted on both white people and people of color. “This is my rifle, this is my gun, this is for fighting, this is for fun,” is a chant not only done by young white men in boot camp, and not only by young white men who fantasize about being in boot camp, but also by men of color. Some of them have learned that one of the fastest ways to prove their manhood and their American selves is to shoot a gun, not at white people, but at people who look like themselves.

 


Viet Thanh Nguyen is a Los Angeles-based professor, teacher, critic and fiction writer, author of Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America and numerous short stories in Best New American Voices, TriQuarterly, Narrative and other magazines. He is the editor of diaCRITICS. More info here.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Your comment is awaiting moderation

    Back in May, 2013. I posted a response to this article by
    Professor Viet Thanh Nguyen. It has since disappeared.
    What follows is completely different:

    I find Professor Nguyen’s equating of violence to sexual
    aggression (“unconscious psychosexual energies behind
    wielding a gun”) shallow sociopathology, but not
    completely invalid in that context.

    However, “pointing to the direct line from the core of
    American culture and history to the Viet Nam War to the
    Oak Creek massacre and a couple of other massacres many
    of us have already forgotten about.” is too misleading
    to let lie.

    If “culture and history” lead to massacres, that would
    not be a uniquely American phenomenon. Think Turks and
    Armenians during WWI, or Croats and Serbs during WWII.
    Therefore, the use of the word “American” as an
    adjective for “culture and history … massacres”
    is misleading.

    Also misleading is the “core of American culture and
    history” as described in Professor Nguyen’s followup
    paragraph:

    === QUOTE BEGINS =============================

    “First: Americans conquer people, okay? For the obvious
    reasons of territory, resources, and power, but for the
    more controversial reasons of culture, hate, and psyche.
    Richard Slotkin argues that American culture and masculinity
    are built on the need for “regeneration through violence,”
    which means that American men see mastering violence as a
    necessary test of their masculinity and, eventually,
    patriotism. They master violence in using it against
    the frontier, the wilderness, and its inhabitants, the
    others to (American) civilization. Eventually (and here
    his is my argument and that of many others) that frontier
    crosses the Pacific to the Philippines and Asia, culminating
    in the Viet Nam War. In the American confrontation with Asia,
    “Orientalism” merges with regeneration through violence,
    meaning that American soldiers use their violence and prove
    their heterosexual manhood by killing, raping, and
    conquering Orientals.”

    === END OF QUOTE ==============================

    Culturally, Professor Nguyen completely ignores the
    historical role of American isolationism prior to both
    World Wars. (The role of Charles A. Lindbergh, “Lucky
    Lindy”, before and after Pearl Harbor is particularly
    interesting and reflective of American culture.)

    I would agree that the Mexican War, conquest of
    Native Americans, and Spanish American War, were wars
    of conquest. A feeble attempt to conquer Canada during
    the War of 1812, including the atrocious burning of
    British government buildings, led directly to the
    British retaliation of burning the White House.

    But that War of 1812 lesson is the beginning of an
    evolution to a government whose Army sends its
    JAG lawyers to Iraq, as explained in the
    quote from this Web page:

    http://law.marquette.edu/assets/marquette-lawyers/pdf/marquette-lawyer/2005-fall/Fall05pp8-10.pdf

    === QUOTE BEGINS =============================

    ‘When U.S. soldiers on patrol in Ad Dujayl,
    due north of Baghdad, kick in the door of
    the wrong house in the middle of the night,
    the aggrieved Iraqi family files its claim
    for damages with Marquette Law School student
    Sergeant Mick Gall.

    ‘I get those people paid to fix the door and
    anything else that was broken. I like being
    able to do that,” Gall writes in an interview
    by e-mail. “How many other occupation forces
    in the history of the world paid for the stuff
    they broke?” As the paralegal for the
    Eau Claire-based 1-128th Infantry, Gall, who
    completed his 1L year before being deployed,
    investigates claims and recommends compensation
    from a fund maintained for that purpose by his
    commander.’

    === END OF QUOTE ==============================

    As far as the core of American history is
    concerned: the “Age of Imperialism” is typically
    characterized as the century preceding WWII.
    The United States was alone in taking the first
    step, the Atlantic Charter, leading the world
    to end global colonialism. The first
    paragraph of the article, “Self-determination”,
    on wikipedia.org credits the Charter, but
    doesn’t explain how Roosevelt forced Churchill
    to promise an end to the British Empire. America
    was not going to support Britain against the
    Nazis in order to preserve Britain’s colonies!

    As for “killing, raping and conquering Orientals”,
    living memory still discredits the Japanese
    government “three alls policy” as the leading
    war criminal behavior in all Asian history.
    Google search “three alls policy” returns
    341,000 hits!

    American soldiers, on the other hand, were loved
    by Philippinos, who were slaughtered for giving
    them water during the Bataan Death March.

    In Korea, tens of thousands of American troops
    have been there for over half a century.
    While behavior of quartered troops is always
    an issue (at Fort Bragg for example), the comments
    following this CNN article are amazingly honest
    self-criticism by Americans:

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/04/world/asia/south-korea-u-s-soldier-shooting

    Americans may sometimes be treated contemptuously,
    see:

    http://www.jpri.org/publications/occasionalpapers/op31.html

    But even that reflects their generally benign
    presence in Asian countries, rather than Professor
    Nguyen’s outrageously monstrous characterization:
    “killing, raping and conquering”.

    As for Japan itself, much has been written about
    the (General Douglas) “MacArthur Constitution”,
    which has not been amended for two thirds of
    a Century. But perhaps nothing more poignant
    than this:

    scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4046&context=lcp

    === QUOTE BEGINS =============================

    (page 173 “ARTICLE NINE OF JAPAN’S CONSTITUTION:
    FROM RENUNCIATION OF ARMED FORCE “FOREVER” TO THE
    THIRD LARGEST DEFENSE BUDGET IN THE WORLD”
    JAMES E. AUER 1990)

    ‘Professor Takayanagi, chairman of the investigation
    committee that investigated the formulation of the
    Constitution from 1957 to 1964,10 originally believed
    in MacArthur’s authorship and imposition of Article 9.
    Following his research, however, Takayanagi concluded
    that

    ‘Article 9 had its origins in Tokyo, not in
    Washington. The idea was first suggested by
    Prime Minister Shidehara, not by General
    MacArthur …. No one else was present at the
    interview which continued for some three hours.
    Shidehara astonished the General with a proposal
    for the insertion of renunciation-of-war and
    disarmament clause into the new Constitution.
    Apparently the General hesitated at first because
    of the possible deleterious effects on United
    States foreign policy in East Asia, if the
    proposal were approved. The Prime Minister,
    however, succeeded in persuading the General
    that in the Atomic Age the survival of mankind
    should precede all national strategies, that
    if an atomic war should break out, America
    herself might be destroyed, and that other
    nations must follow the same principle of
    renouncing war if they themselves were to
    survive. MacArthur was deeply impressed by
    this part of Shidehara’s argument. Before
    the SCAP draft and Japanese government bill
    were drawn, the General and the Prime Minister
    agreed to insert such a clause in the
    new Constitution.

    === END OF QUOTE ==============================

    And I cannot let pass Professor Nguyen’s last
    gratuitous insult to intellectual honesty and the
    history of American black/white race relations:

    “one of the fastest ways to prove their manhood and
    their American selves is to shoot a gun, not at white
    people, but at people who look like themselves.”

    I suggest taking the time (90 minutes, at least) to
    watch the videos at:

    http://video.pbs.org/program/slavery-another-name/

    The “Slavery Full Program” link will explain how
    the recorded history of black criminality following
    the Civil War is an artifice of a policy of
    re-enslavement that took epic effort to dismantle.
    (It’s the story of chain gangs for profit and
    the manufacture of statistics to justify the
    incarceration of black Americans.) The myths that
    policy engendered are still echoed by remarks like
    Professor Nguyen’s “prove their manhood and their
    American selves is to shoot a gun”. A more careful
    student of criminality would understand the links
    between poverty and crime, instead of trying to
    find a reason in “the core of American culture”.

    Well, I’ve tried to be more specific in my
    critique of Professor Nguyen’s inflammatory
    article, in this response, posted June 4, 2013.

    In case anyone wonders what happened to my
    first response, I have included it below.

    About ten days after I posted it, it disappeared
    from this web page. That gave me the opportunity
    to make more specific criticism of Professor
    Nguyen’s counterfactual spin on “the core of
    American culture and history”.

    I am particularly amazed at Professor Nguyen’s
    backward looking view on racism in America.
    He wrote a few weeks after July 2012, when South
    Korean Psy’s “Gangnam Style” became the first
    YouTube video to reach a billion views, largely
    thanks to many Americans who also posted their
    own imitations in good-humored tribute. Later
    in the year 2012, after Professor Nguyen wrote
    his article, Barack Hussein Obama became the
    first Democratic president since Franklin
    Delano Roosevelt to win the popular vote twice.
    This doesn’t seem to be a nation that deserves
    to be condemned because of a madman’s “massacre
    of six Sikh Americans”.

    I recall an American once wrote of visiting Russia
    late in the 19th Century. He was amazed that the
    one thing they all wanted to know about America was
    Abraham Lincoln.

    People have often looked to Americans for inspiration
    in overcoming the prejudices of the past. I hope
    what I’ve written here might help Professor Nguyen
    see why that is true.

    As to the thinking that removed my first post from
    this website, I wrote it from a personal point of
    view because Professor Nguyen’s screed personally
    offended me. But, you judge for yourself if it
    deserved to be censored:

    FIRST RESPONSE POSTED MAY 2013, BUT LATER DISAPPEARED

    To My Dear Fellow Asian American,

    Like you, I owe my American birthright to the generosity
    of the American nation following a war in Asia. The war
    which blessed me to be “born in the USA” was World War II.

    The reason I must write to you is directly related to what
    I learned from that war. My mother spoke of her experiences
    in the Philippines as a dependent of the Chinese diplomatic
    delegation, while I was still a small child. For example,
    she told of learning to lie in a cast iron bathtub during
    artillery shelling of Manila. As a result, I have been a
    student of war my entire life, with a particular interest
    in the conduct of Asians.

    Before the recent rise of the Chinese economy in the 21st
    Century, the two greatest economies of the world behind the
    United States were long the German and Japanese economies;
    the two nations whose unquestionably militant government
    aggression caused some 70 million deaths in five years.

    Why is this relevant to you? Because, you seem unaware
    of the historical demonstration these two fantastic societies
    performed of systematic, culturally justified cruelty upon
    the sophisticated civilizations they bordered upon, and
    beyond.

    While their style differed somewhat, both the Germans and
    Japanese dragooned civilian women into military brothels.
    The Germans executed their rape victims after two weeks,
    to prevent the spread of venereal diseases among their
    troops. The Japanese… well, google this:

    Osaka mayor says wartime sex slaves were needed
    to �maintain discipline� in Japanese military
    By Associated Press 2013

    The Osaka mayor forgets that the winning armies had no
    such needs.

    Both the Germans and Japanese most sophisticated medical
    minds were used to perform the most atrocious biological
    warfare and human experimentation in the history of mankind.

    For example, the Germans developed a life jacket for pilots
    shot down in the North Sea that specifically kept the
    medulla oblongata out of the water. They had learned through
    in vivo experiments that men in cold water could only
    survive thirty minutes, unless their medulla oblongatas
    were kept out of the water. In that case, they could
    survive forty five minutes. Remember the Titanic.

    As for the Japanese, there are still outbreaks of bubonic
    plague in China. They are the legacy of strains developed
    and deployed by the Japanese in World War II.

    I could go on. And on, and on. There are Holocaust
    Museums you could go visit. The Asians actually don’t
    have any. I suggest that is because the Asians are more
    accustomed to atrocities in war and the practice of
    widespread extermination as a matter of course.

    Witness the Khmer Rouge, for example. Or the arrival
    of the Kuomintang in Taiwan.

    In both those cases, the seizure of power was immediately
    accompanied by the systematic and overly thorough attempt
    to massacre any possible civilian leadership (from mayors
    and dog catchers down to the school teacher level) and
    in the case of the Khmer Rouge, intellectuals identified
    by the wearing of eyeglasses.

    Please, sir, before you embarrass the rest of us Asian
    Americans ever again. consider the truth of history and
    the record of Asian cultural behavior, not to mention
    European and African, before you choose to single out
    the American culture for any possible tendencies toward
    violence and savagery toward our fellow human beings.

    If ever any of the races are to be singled out for
    violent behaviors, perhaps the cultures who emphasize
    the individual unarmed martial arts over centuries might
    be nominated. Not because of their martial arts, but
    because of the oppressive conquering peoples who disarmed
    those conquered in order to brutalize them more thoroughly.

    Genetics tells us we are all human together, distant
    cousins who are all descendants of a single African women
    one hundred thousand years ago. Have you ever wondered
    what happened to her peers? She didn’t evolve in a vacuum,
    she was part of millions of years of species development.
    Was it the Ice Age that eliminated all other descendants?

    Or, was it the development of efficient ways for us to
    kill each other?

    Modern genetics tells us peoples who migrated out of
    Africa all contain 2 to 4 per cent Neanderthal genes.
    What happened to the Neanderthals? Were they merely
    interbred out of existence? They were extent for
    eight hundred thousand years and evolved for Ice Ages.
    Yet, like the great woolly mammoths, they are gone.

    Some questions of prehistory are, as yet, unanswerable.
    Yet, they should give us all pause before assigning all
    our faults to culture, rather than giving genetics a
    fair share.

    If we choose to be judgmental about cultures, I suggest
    you consider that the United States is the only country
    that once successful in conquest, endeavors to democratize
    its vanquished enemies and make them strong.

    As a child of people who suffered tremendously because of
    war, I understand a bit of your emotional legacy. Yet, I
    must remind you that both Asian and American culture
    demands that we outlive the tragic results of the past
    with identification of truths that will help us create the
    future.

    Intellectual honesty, not blindness born of anger, should
    direct our communications in future, please!

  2. Your comment is awaiting moderation

    To My Dear Fellow Asian American,

    Like you, I owe my American birthright to the generosity
    of the American nation following a war in Asia. The war
    which blessed me to be “born in the USA” was World War II.

    The reason I must write to you is directly related to what
    I learned from that war. My mother spoke of her experiences
    in the Philippines as a dependent of the Chinese diplomatic
    delegation, while I was still a small child. For example,
    she told of learning to lie in a cast iron bathtub during
    artillery shelling of Manila. As a result, I have been a
    student of war my entire life, with a particular interest
    in the conduct of Asians.

    Before the recent rise of the Chinese economy in the 21st
    Century, the two greatest economies of the world behind the
    United States were long the German and Japanese economies;
    the two nations whose unquestionably militant government
    aggression caused some 70 million deaths in five years.

    Why is this relevant to you? Because, you seem unaware
    of the historical demonstration these two fantastic societies
    performed of systematic, culturally justified cruelty upon
    the sophisticated civilizations they bordered upon, and
    beyond.

    While their style differed somewhat, both the Germans and
    Japanese dragooned civilian women into military brothels.
    The Germans executed their rape victims after two weeks,
    to prevent the spread of venereal diseases among their
    troops. The Japanese… well, google this:

    Osaka mayor says wartime sex slaves were needed
    to �maintain discipline� in Japanese military
    By Associated Press 2013

    The Osaka mayor forgets that the winning armies had no
    such needs.

    Both the Germans and Japanese most sophisticated medical
    minds were used to perform the most atrocious biological
    warfare and human experimentation in the history of mankind.

    For example, the Germans developed a life jacket for pilots
    shot down in the North Sea that specifically kept the
    medulla oblongata out of the water. They had learned through
    in vivo experiments that a man in cold water could only
    survive thirty minutes, unless their medulla oblongatas
    were kept out of the water. In that case, they could
    survive forty five minutes. Remember the Titanic.

    As for the Japanese, there are still outbreaks of bubonic
    plague in China. They are the legacy of strains developed
    and deployed by the Japanese in World War II.

    I could go on. And on, and on. There are Holocaust
    Museums you could go visit. The Asians actually don’t
    have any. I suggest that is because the Asians are more
    accustomed to atrocities in war and the practice of
    widespread extermination as a matter of course.

    Witness the Khmer Rouge, for example. Or the arrival
    of the Kuomintang in Taiwan.

    In both those cases, the seizure of power was immediately
    accompanied by the systematic and overly thorough attempt
    to massacre any possible civilian leadership (from mayors
    and dog catchers down to the school teacher level) and
    in the case if the Khmer Rouge, intellectuals identified
    by the wearing of eyeglasses.

    Please, sir, before you embarrass the rest of us Asian
    Americans ever again. consider the truth of history and
    the record of Asian cultural behavior, not to mention
    European and African, before you choose to single out
    the American culture for any possible tendencies toward
    violence and savagery toward our fellow human beings.

    If ever any of the races are to be singled out for
    violent behaviors, perhaps the cultures who emphasize
    the individual unarmed martial arts over centuries might
    be nominated. Not because of their martial arts, but
    because of the oppressive conquering peoples who disarmed
    those conquered in order to brutalize them more thoroughly.

    Genetics tells us we are all human together, distant
    cousins who are all descendants of a single African women
    one hundred thousand years ago. Have you ever wondered
    what happened to her peers? She didn’t evolve in a vacuum,
    she was part of millions of years of species development.
    Was it the Ice Age that eliminated all other descendants?

    Or, was it the development of efficient ways for us to
    kill each other?

    Modern genetics tells us peoples who migrated out of
    Africa all contain 2 to 4 per cent Neanderthal genes.
    What happened to the Neanderthals? Were they merely
    interbred out of existence? They were extent for
    eight hundred thousand years and evolved for Ice Ages.
    Yet, like the great woolly mammoths, they are gone.

    Some questions of prehistory are, as yet, unanswerable.
    Yet, they should give us all pause before assigning all
    our faults to culture, rather than giving genetics a
    fair share.

    If we choose to be judgmental about cultures, I suggest
    you consider that the United States is the only country
    that once successful in conquest, endeavors to democratize
    its vanquished enemies and make them strong.

    As a child of people who suffered tremendously because of
    war, I understand a bit of your emotional legacy. Yet, I
    must remind you that both Asian and American culture
    demands that we outlive the tragic results of the past
    with identification of truths that will help us create the
    future.

    Intellectual honesty, not blindness born of anger, should
    direct our communications in future, please!

  3. I think, in general, American society does not like its minorities to express themself against the majority. As minorities, most if not all of us know this. In daily life we control our speech and behavior so as to stay inline with the cultural expectations of the majority. I suspect even when a minority expresses his anger he, consciously or not, feels he cannot do so against the oppressive forces of the majority. Thus, unable to vent his frustration at the majority, he turns his rage at defenseless individuals–those who look like him.

    Thank goodness we no longer have to worry about the “killing, raping and conquering [of defenseless] Orientals” that occurred by Americans overseas. No, the situation is different in America. Here, Americans are civilized. Here, they just handcuff and then tazer defenseless Orientals.

    Talks of freedom of speech, of diversity, and of justice are just that, talks. In practice, you better be careful to avoid angering the majority; otherwise, you may find yourself the victim of a new manifestation of America’s “regeneration through violence,” you may find yourself handcuffed and tazered.

  4. Hi Viet,
    Thank you for drawing the parallelisms between white murderers and people of color murderers, but most of all, thank you for using this space to memorialize the innocent lives that were lost because of this (in)sane institutionalization of American culture and imperialism.

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