Emil Guillermo: Trumputin, rescission, and internment--Asian Americans know the feeling of a President's betrayal
July 17, 2018 1:06 PM

I was watching that Hell-stinky summit of Trump and Putin, where Trump did nothing more than solidify his bully status. 

I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

I should have figured. You see, bullies don't punch back. Bullies are weak. Bullies are cowards. 

Bullies, when they're president, betray the American people.

The way you beat a bully is merely to stand up to him. Even when you're shorter with less hair like Putin. The Russian president never had to take off his shirt. He never flinched. He knew exactly how to play a trump hand.

Putin stood his ground at that monstrous event we might as well call the birthing of some new two-headed world monster. Because there they were--the two leaders, one supposedly of the free world and the other of the less free. 

And there they were both speaking as one.

Trumputin.

Trump-Putin summitW.jpg

How could that be? Putin--the man behind the taking of Crimea, the unrest in the Ukraine, innumerable human rights violations, the suppressor of free speech and a free press--he and the president of the free world were one?

At this presser, they were.

Especially on the subject of Russian interference in our 2016 elections.

Putin boldly said (in translation) that Russia "never interfered" in the U.S. election. He referred to it all as the "so-called interference," conveniently dismissing the indictments issued by the Mueller probe against 12 Russian military hackers.

Instead of a forceful rebuke, or a well-timed diplomatic tongue lash in return, the U.S. president responded meekly. Trump didn't hold Russia accountable for anything. In a typical Trump move, he went Charlottesville, where he didn't have the heart to blame white supremacists despite compelling visual evidence.  Remember the many "fine people of both sides" line?

In this case, Trump would only say that "we have both made mistakes," and how both countries were to blame for the current state of U.S./Russia relations.

That's despite being armed with all the intel by U.S. officials that have resulted in indictment after indictment in the Mueller/Russia probe.

Trump was merely doing a typical bully move. He had a chance to take a swing. Even sucker punch Putin.

But you don't throw a sucker punch when you're the sucker.

Besides, bullies don't punch. When the moment comes, and it's swing or be swung upon, they speak softer. Blame both sides and try to be friends with their enemy. 

Trumputin.

It may work in business when a CEO sells out his workers to save his butt in a failing negotiation. But in a democracy, your allegiance is to the American people.

We're left betrayed by a leader who doesn't stand up and defend our interests or democratic values as forcefully and unequivocally as possible.

Mark it historically. 

It was there for all to see: Trump's public betrayal of America.


ASIAN AMERICANS KNOW THAT FEELING
Asian Americans know how it feels when a president betrays them.
 
Filipino veterans of World War II went to fight for the U.S. in the Philippines during WWII. They were promised citizenship and full pay and benefits for their efforts if they answered President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's order. And they signed up in droves. Filipinos were the bulk of the prisoners of war in the Bataan Death March. 

For their efforts they got the Rescission Act of 1946, signed by President Truman, which essentially negated the promise of Roosevelt. 

Many of these veterans ultimately became American citizens in other ways. So these Filipinos weren't just denied all the rights they were promised. Thousands of them continued to fight for their back pay and benefits as Americans.

It took more than 55 years for them to be made whole. 

Roosevelt made the promise, but Truman was the bad guy who rescinded the promise in 1946. 

Roosevelt is mostly remembered for his classic betrayal of another group of Asian Americans with Executive Order 9066, which led to the incarceration of thousands of Japanese Americans.

We know how it feels to be let down by a president. It cost Asian Americans a lot more than people will ever realize when your leader abandons you.

And now everyone else knows how it feels too.

FROM CHICAGO WITH MY FRIEND, A TRUMPER

My twitter response was immediate.

And there was the New York Daily News cover with the phrase "Open Treason."

NYDN.jpg

I'll stick with "betrayal"  for now. 

But I did encounter my friend, a Trump supporter. 

I was staying in Chicago at his home while attending a Filipino American National Historical Society convention. 

While he may not be an unabashed Trump supporter, he's definitely in the "give Trump a chance" camp.

The morning after the summit, my Trumpy friend greeted me this way:  "It looks like he's unifying the country---against him."

My friend is results-oriented. He believes if you give Trump enough rope he'll hang himself, and voters will oust him if he doesn't deliver. My friend is a smart, successful, well-educated  Mexican American immigrant who runs a thriving small business with his immigrant wife from Russia. They're not pro-Putin. They chose America and are USA all the way.

But my friend wants to give Trump a break and see if he can live up to campaign promises about improving the economy. He believes all Trump did at the summit was "insult" the U.S. intelligence community that works for the president.

The spies should buck up.

But Trump did much more than insult the intelligence community.

He threw the whole country under the bus. 

And Putin is driving. 

It makes you yearn for the days Reagan supporters called liberals "communist sympathizers" or worse, "commie pinkos."
The summit proves Trumputin shouldn't be anyone's idea of some new world order.

But we are in a new phase in the Trump era of U.S. democracy. Time for all good patriots on all sides to speak up and defend America--from its president.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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Emil Guillermo: Take the long view on affirmative action, race, and the Supreme Court
July 9, 2018 2:59 PM

This week will mark the 90th year since my father's arrival to America from the Philippines.

Which means, if he was as horny as they said Filipinos were in those days, I should be at least 90 years old today. Or dead.

But I'm not. 

Lucky me. And that's just one of the positive benefits of racism.

It's a core story in my show, "Amok: All Pucked Up," which I'm doing for one night in the San Francisco Bay Area this Aug. 17, in the small, intimate space at the I-Hotel/Manilatown Center, on the edge of Chinatown on Kearny Street. (Tickets will go on sale soon, but email me at emil@amok.com and I'll make sure you'll be the first to know. And if you can't make it that night, let's figure out a way to bring the show to your town, community or campus center, or walk-in closet.)

EGWillie.jpg

I mention this historical marker of my father's arrival, because 90 years ago wasn't a great time to be Asian American. 

There were 30,000 Filipino men, mostly in California and the west, who came primarily as a labor force. Just in time for the Great Depression. The catch was these ethnic Filipino men  were all colonized Americans, no green card necessary. arrival. 

Whites feared that Filipinos were taking white jobs and white women (there were too few Filipino women to stick to one's own kind). The xenophobic sentiment drove a movement in California to change Filipinos' status from U.S. nationals to aliens. 

It was just a cover for a white supremacy/ethnic purity subtext. 

For Filipinos, it made California like the Jim Crow South. There was mob violence against Filipinos resulting in deaths, even lynchings.   

The anti-Asian politics of the day brought on the Filipino version of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which, along with the laws preventing Filipinos from intermarrying, put Filipino American life on the slow track and out of synch forever.  

There's a lost Filipino generation out there that no one ever talks about. Except me, because I'm one of the lost and out of step.

But here I am, found again and looking at the current situation at the southern border as new lives are destroyed by a bad mix of wrongheaded immigration politics and fear. 

I share this with you as a reminder that our country has always had a problem with new people coming in to take part in what really makes America great.

And the historical pattern keeps repeating. 

In the recent travel ban ruling, Korematsu and the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII were central reference points.

Filipinos in the '20s and '30s faced xenophobia.

Chinese were the targets of exclusionary laws in the 1880s. 

We could strengthen our democracy by learning our history and never forgetting. 

But we don't.  

There's a default lesson that comes in time: we will overcome racism.

It's not just a song.

It just helps to take the long view, which may take you the long way around. 

You may even end up missing a generation or two. Like the American Filipino community.


Affirmative Action/SCOTUS Pick
I'm not waiting around for the SCOTUS pick to denounce it. Do we really need a reality show-type of reveal to herald the likely backward march of American society?

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We all know it's going to a conservative to preserve the 5-4 split, the mark of a divided court and a divided America. 

Without a solid bloc of Democrats (including those in red states) who hang tough, or a few Republican senators, will it be possible to stop the trumping of the high court?

Some people have talked about doing an FDR to change the court. The court's nine-member composition isn't set in stone, like, say, a nine-person baseball team. 

Back in my father's time in the '30s, Roosevelt wanted 15. Wouldn't 8-7 decisions sound more fair than 5-4?

Some have suggested making the high court an 11-person squad, like a football team. It makes ordering stuff easy. Order a dozen robes and you'll always have an extra.

Conservatives have it 5-4 now. Just add 2 principled liberals, and it could be a 6-5 liberal majority on the court.

Easier said than done. Just win everything in the midterms. And the presidency. 

If that doesn't happen, 5-4 will likely remain modern code for America's great march backward into time.

The country before civil rights, voting rights, abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, affirmative action? 

A repeat of the '50s, '60s? Try '30s and '40s. 

The rollback has already begun, even before the Supreme Court vacancy has been filled. The Department of Justice and the Education Department have rescinded the guidances on affirmative action established by the Obama administration.

Last week before the July 4th holiday, the Trump administration issued the memo that tells colleges and universities to stick to race-neutral policies. And wink-wink, you know what that means.

"The Departments have reviewed the documents and have concluded that they advocate policy preferences and positions beyond the requirements of the Constitution, Title IV and Title VI,"  the letter reads. "Moreover, the documents prematurely decide, or appear to decide, whether particular actions violate the Constitution or federal law."

So the new anti-guidance tells universities to feel free to do their rightward, backward, anti-diversity thing. 

The Trump administration is looking the other way. It's playing hardball on the southern border against mothers and their children.


FIVE-A Asians
A group named Asian Americans Against Affirmative Action, which I call the Five As, was quick to gloat how this reversal of the Obama guidances was "a new chapter for Asian American Children."

Don't kid yourself. 

This rollback doesn't change court decisions that have permitted holistic approaches to admissions. And it won't assure the kid with the highest test scores and best grades gets in (what every ambitious Tiger Mom wants). 

What gets you into Harvard? Jared Kushner, who didn't have the highest grades and scores in prep school, knows: Have your father, an NYU grad, pledge $2.5 million to Harvard.  

That's what gets Jared Kushner admitted to Harvard, as Daniel Golden wrote in his 2006 book, "The Price of Admission," which shows how the rich buy their way to admission. 

The poor have to do it the normal way. Qualify. Or write a nice handwritten essay about your Filipino father coming to America.

Now as a journalist, I don't think I've given more than a few hundred bucks to Harvard---ever. Which is the only reason why I mention my connection as much as I do (this time I waited at least three-quarters of a column).  

My record "talking about Harvard" is better than my donation record. And look where that's got me. Free pub doesn't translate into admission. None of my kids who even bothered to apply to Harvard got in. (Though their UC degrees don't seem like consolation prizes.) But it does prove that the legacy thing has no legs unless it comes with a check.

Affirmative action? It's when the Ivory Tower chimes "ka-ching."

The Supreme Court and the Trump dump of the Obama guidance doesn't even address that.  

In the meantime, let's not forget that the law of the land is still Fisher until further notice. Race can be considered as one of several factors in a holistic admissions process. 

Still, Trump has enabled all the dormant advocates who want laws that ban a woman's right to choose, prevent a gay person's right to marry, and withhold opportunities for women and people of color throughout society, even their right to vote. And these advocates just love to use Asian Americans as a wedge to divide all people of color--especially on affirmative action. 

So Trump's pick for the Supreme Court comes at a critical moment.

All the wrongheaded and bigoted actions we fought against and made illegal, may soon be legal again. Just as they were in my father's day.

Instead of despondence, it should be a signal to all to never give up hope.

We've seen darker moments just in Asian American history.

As we have in the past, we'll get through it all. But only if we stand and take action together.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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Emil Guillermo: No reunification in a divided America, when freedom takes a holiday
July 3, 2018 2:57 PM

A day before Independence Day, one of the mothers of the 2,000 plus children taken by the U.S. at the U.S. Mexican border will be allowed to meet with her kids in New York. That's how far families have been separated in this whole ideal. Escaping tyrants and violence from parts south of America is hard enough. But try scaling the invisible wall America has already built for people seeking refuge.

Hardship has been made harder, and the logic of truth and justice has been made to seem impossible, not just insurmountable. The mother will only be allowed to speak with her children in New York, but not reunited. 

Thanks to the aborted Trump Zero Tolerance "plan," the kids have been stripped away and placed into orbit in another established hell layer of the American bureaucracy--the foster care system.

In order for the mother to actually be reunited with her children, she's subjected to strict requirements imposed by Homeland Security and the foster care system itself. 

Does the mother have a job? An established address? That's on top of her basic status question: Citizenship? Permanent residence?  

And then there are the irrelevant Trump questions. MS-13? Aspiring terrorist?

After meeting with her children, the mother will be asked to leave them all behind. She goes away empty-handed. More tears. More crying.  

It's what Trump's created. The anti-Norman Rockwell scene in America, the unbeautiful. 

But this is a happy scene. A parent finds and locates her kids. 

A generic scene. But it shows how selective the law is. 

For initially crossing the border, the parents are charged with a misdemeanor.

Meanwhile, White House Son-In-Law Jared Kushner fills out his SF86, the document required for national security clearance, and admits to omitting key information, like meeting with the Russians, a federal felony. 

No one's throwing the book at him. He's part of a privileged family.

Now that's big time tafu. (You can't just coin a word if you don't use it. I didn't create Tafu to be the Susan B. Anthony  or the Sacajawea dollar of armchair neologists). 

ASIAN AMERICAN VOICES AND ABOLISHING ICE
In the past, we wouldn't be part of many of these hot topic debates. We'd be on the fringes among the more activist voices.  But no one really thought of Asian Americans as being relevant or part of the conversation.

"Oh, you care about this issue?" 

Of course, we do. We're Americans. We're subject to the law. We don't have to be the ones crossing the border, or having our kids taken to be concerned. But that's the way it's been.  No one thought of Asian Americans much in these matters. 

But that's changing. 

More and more, in our representative form of government, we're seeing Asian American voices speak out. Recently, we've seen Senator Tammy Duckworth  (D-Ill) be more vocal in general. Since the start of the Trump administration, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) has been front and center on the news shows taking principled stands. Mind you, they're not just speaking for their local constituencies, but as Asian Americans, they are speaking for all of us, too.

Emerging among the voices has been Ted Lieu, a congressman representing California's 33rd district, a swath of prime Southern California real estate that includes wealthy liberals from Malibu, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills. And being in California, the most Asian American state by population, a sizable number of his constituents see themselves reflected by him.

So on the hot-button issue of abolishing ICE, there was Lieu to help frame the debate with us in it. 

Trump has made it sound like such a cockamamie idea, as if the Democrats want to abolish all law enforcement at the borders.

To parry all that, now there's an Asian face. 

"ICE is not down there at the border, that's a whole different agency," said Lieu on CNN Monday. "The President is misleading the public, keep in mind he's been bashing immigrants since the day he was inaugurated."

By Trump's tweets, the president seems happy to twist the words of Lieu and other Democratic proponents who want to change ICE. 

But after taking away 2,000 children from parents at the border without a plan for reuniting them, can any fair-minded person defend ICE? 

You'll recall ICE was born out of the Patriot Act and 9/11. Central American refugees did not participate in 9/11, so why is ICE concentrating so heavily on our southern border? 

Lieu was one of the first to call for the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen's resignation, and for a new DHS leader to overhaul the culture. Ultimately, it's Congress that changes the laws, but as Lieu pointed out, "If none of that happens, I support the abolition of ICE and replacing it with a system more consistent with American values."

Which brings us to the Fourth of July. Remember the values;, don't burn them on the back yard grill this holiday.

Instead, think of what ICE hath wrought on this new batch of immigrants and their families who simply sought what America has always promised-- until everything went tafu.

VEGAN HOTDOGS, PATRIOTISM, AND A POEM
It has become a tradition at family holiday gatherings at my house (at least when someone remembers to invoke the tradition). Come to a meal, bring a poem. 

Fortunately, no one has brought Milton's "Paradise Lost," preferring more manageable poetic forms. Haiku is good for such occasions. 

You see, when you mention poetry, most people think of their high school English class.  A love sonnet? Emily Dickinson? Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?  All good Hall of Fame examples.  But poetry is a living contemporary form. Poetry is an expression of our times. And I'm not talking Drake or Kendrick Lamar.

Poetry is also as diverse as America. It's living and breathing in the now. Go to Poets.org and see.

Through that site, I discovered this poem about the Fourth of July. 

It won a Poetry Society of America award this year. And considering all the rhetoric from politicians these days, the nation could probably get by with fewer pols, and a whole lot more poets and poetry.

Here's a burst of concentrated language in lieu of fireworks for a reflective Fourth of July, which happens to be the name of this poem by a poet named Elizabeth Knapp.

Fourth of July
In America, we like our flags fried
and rolled in powdered sugar,
which is why fireworks always remind us             
of bombs, the shock and awe
of a mighty nation. After the parade,
I feel an overwhelming urge
to take a hot shower, Americana
like grease over everything. If you asked
two of us the same question, you'd get
six different answers, depending
on which side of the news you're on.
On the outskirts of town, a band is playing
well into the night. Some of us are sleeping.
Some would kill us in our sleep.

Sometimes, poetry is easier to take than the news.

All of it remains, our call to action.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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Emil Guillermo: Korematsu is our battle cry as SCOTUS approves travel ban 3.0 and codifies Islamophobia
June 26, 2018 9:29 PM

Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Sonia Sotomayor showed how deeply divided this country is when they courageously spoke from the bench to condemn the majority 5-4 decision in favor of the Trump travel ban.

But it's Sotomayor's historical twist that deserves the headline as she invoked the name Korematsu.

What better way to mark the occasion than to bring up the historical case that every freedom-loving American should know? 

Sotomayor's experience as a person of color and her understanding of history gave her the wisdom to say that one day we'll all wake up and be ashamed by the backwards step that is the Trump travel ban. 

The parallels are clear.

 "By blindly accepting the government's misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security," she said, "the court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one 'gravely wrong' decision with another."

All along, Asian Americans knew instinctively what was at stake, and how a travel ban went right to the core of the basic freedoms we hold dear in a democracy, like the freedom of speech and religion. The travel ban prejudges groups of innocent people from specific countries and makes them enemies of America.

It's the same way that America justified the incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.

Undoing those scars has not been easy. 

But that's the price of bad laws being upheld in America. And here we go again. 

You've heard the words, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." 

It's an actual misquote from the Spanish philosopher George Santayana, who in his "Reason in Common Sense" around 1905 actually wrote this: "When experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Which is why Korematsu deserves to be the cry of our times, when we have a politically stacked Supreme Court approving a savage assault on the Constitution, perpetrated by an inexperienced president with an irrational fear of all foreigners, and specifically MS-13, Muslims, and Arabs. 

If Trump had a sense of history, or bothered to read a briefing book, he'd take the time to understand what happened in the case of Fred Korematsu.

Korematsu, a young man from Oakland, California, was the one who said no to the incarceration of Japanese Americans ordered by President Roosevelt during World War II.

Korematsu stood up, resisted, refused to go the camp, and paid the price in 1942.

When he was arrested for his principled stand, the ACLU took his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The government upheld his conviction and the incarceration of Japanese Americans, citing "military necessity."

Critics have said the Court seemed unwilling to go against the government and President Roosevelt, although three justices dissented. 

Sound familiar?
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But here's what isn't as well known about the Korematsu case.

Korematsu lost his constitutional challenge and spent time in an internment camp. But he also found that not only was he shunned by general society and his country at war, he was also shunned by other Japanese Americans in camp who believed he should have shut up and cooperated.

Vindication ultimately would come to Korematsu four decades later.

In 1983, Prof. Peter Irons, a legal historian, discovered government memos that were withheld from the Supreme Court in 1944. The documents revealed an internal struggle within the government on how to present the case. Would it proceed with the Army's contention that Japanese Americans were a threat to national security? Or would it also present information from the FBI and other military intelligence that contradicted the Army?

The Army's perspective prevailed. But Irons said a statement in one military document continued to haunt and fuel the protest. It read: "We are telling lies to the Supreme Court. We have an obligation to tell the truth."

Lies? Or as Trump would say, "alternate facts"? 

The discovery of the suppressed information enabled a group of attorneys, mostly young Japanese Americans, to reopen the case and overturn Korematsu's conviction in 1983 in a federal district court in San Francisco.

KorematsuLegalTeam2.jpg
 
Hip-hip-hurray, right?

There was one catch. 

Because the government declined to appeal, the 1944 Supreme Court decision still technically stands.

Korematsu's legal team couldn't directly challenge the high court's opinion.

"We were stuck at the district court level," said lead attorney Dale Minami. "But we did undercut the factual and legal basis for what the Supreme Court did."

When I talked to Minami a few years ago, it was during the Obama years. He told me it would be ignorant for anyone to use Korematsu as a precedent today for the wholesale imprisonment of people because of their race.

That's what we all thought.

What he didn't imagine was the ignorance of a whole country and political class to make Donald J. Trump the 45th president of the United States.

Remember when Sen. Chuck Schumer called Trump's travel ban "un-American and mean-spirited," and even shed a tear for the refugees blocked by the executive order, Trump mocked him by saying, "Who was his acting coach?"

Trump's words and actions during this whole ordeal matter. And that was a key part in fighting this final iteration of the travel ban. The statements of Trump about the ban were used against him. But SCOTUS essentially discounted them. Parts of the ban also went through more revisions, such as the addition of non-Muslim countries, and input from other organizations both in and out of the administration. 

But a watered-down ban 3.0 is still poisonous, all while strengthening the power of the presidency.
 
It also helps to keep Trump in line with the worldwide trend of strong men in power. 

In his time in office, Trump has joked about China's Xi. 

"He's now president for life. President for life. And he's great," Trump said, according to a recording obtained by CNN. "I think it's great. Maybe we'll give that a shot someday."

We remember him admiring how Kim Jong Un's people stood in attention whenever the supreme leader talked. 

And we know how much he likes the lethal justice of the Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte, who recently went on a rant about God, saying, "Who is this stupid God?

That's how corrupt power can be. Above the law. And God?

The leader of the free world should be railing out against this worldwide autocratic trend, not trying to emulate such anti-democratic tendencies.

But now emboldened by a Supreme Court ruling that has redefined presidential power to Trump's satisfaction, our democracy under Trump is clearly in what I call a state of tafu. (See previous column: it's the word you use when snafu is not enough). 

Don't be fooled. Travel Ban 3.0 is hardly what Trump calls it--"a great victory for our constitution."

It is, however, a reminder that we can never give up the fight to preserve our democratic ideals.

We've been here before and we've recovered. History tells us that.

Someday we will look back with horror and realize the error--if we're lucky enough to survive this stress test on democracy,and we don't give up. 

From the bench, Sotomayor gave us the battle cry: Korematsu.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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Emil Guillermo: Tofu? No Tafu, thanks to Trump; and a word on Vincent Chin
June 21, 2018 8:52 PM

Ordinarily at this time, we'd be talking about the hate crime that changed Asian America, the beating death of Vincent Chin in a Detroit suburb June 19, 1982.

I didn't forget. And I hope you didn't. 

But in 2016, I proposed we take the four days when Chin was in a coma, from June 19 (the day of the beating) to June 23, as days we should pause and remember there's still much to be done. 

VincentChin2.jpg

For more than three decades, the case has been the open wound of our community. It remains an open wound because Chin's killers, Ronald Ebens and his stepson, Michael Nitz, were allowed to plea bargain from second degree murder to manslaughter, given three years' probation, and fined $3,720.

You read it right. Probation for killing Chin. No jail time.

The torturous legal history is also tough to swallow. A subsequent federal civil rights prosecution found Ebens guilty, and he was sentenced to 25 years. But on appeal, the conviction was overturned, and a second trial ended in acquittal.

And though a civil judgment was won by Chin's family, Ebens has successfully avoided paying and the estimate of what is owed to the estate has soared to more than $8 million.

Open wounds, indeed. 

Ebens told me he is sorry in a 2012 interview. But I don't trust him. 

I'm not his judge or his confessor. I simply interviewed him. 

But nor am I his apologist. 

He still hasn't paid the Chin estate, and that's worth our ire. As long as Ebens is alive, he must not forget that we don't forget.

It's even more important now to remember, as we find ourselves in an era when no one would be surprised if we saw another Vincent Chin case. 

Not when white supremacy and intolerance are on the rise.

So let's take the four days to remember how Vincent Chin was in a coma. 

And think about the hate in America then, and now. 

These aren't ordinary times.

FROM SNAFU TO TAFU
But this post is really for you wordsmiths familiar with the acronym "snafu." The first two letters of this two-syllable delight stand for "situation normal."  

The "-afu" portion stands for " all...." Well, you can intuit the last two letters, which describe a disaster beyond words. 

If you still need help, think of goods being loaded at a warehouse as being "all trucked up." 

Snafu often is used to refer to an entanglement, sometimes of one's own making, sometimes beyond one's control, but always describing a recurring situation that seems to happen all the time. It gets to the point where it's just the nature of the situation to be so screwed up that everyone just gets used to it.  

"Inured" is a nice $50 word to describe it. 

But add a "j" and make the word "injured" if you happen to be caught up in any part of the situation. 

And so this past week is a good one for neologists and coiners of phrase, who urgently see the need to issue a timely update of "snafu" to "tafu."

"Tafu" is not a newfangled vegetarian protein substitute for those who want less red meat. 

That would be "tofu." 

No, tafu is my new term for our ongoing political situation, where "T" stands for Trump, of course. (He'd have it no other way. Not only is it on his watch, it's his doing.)

The "-afu" appendage remains the same. Unfortunately.

We'd better get used to it. If you follow the news, things always seem to be "tafu" these days, and will be for the foreseeable future.

This week especially is a tough one. And I feel for Republicans, the party of family values, free trade, and open borders, and...

Oops

That was the old Republican party.  

There was once a day when Republicans espoused family values, which usually was just code for being against abortions and having an inordinate allegiance to the unborn.

But I doubt it ever included ripping away children from a migrant parent's arms. 

That's sort of like a "living abortion." But then pro-lifers don't have any problem with the inconsistencies, in general. They are for the death penalty, after all. Just not for fetuses.

We haven't seen this level of malevolence on a practical level in politics in some time, where the cries are loud and audible--mostly from children and infants as young as nine-months-old. More than 2,300 of them are lost somewhere in bureaucratic America, and not with their parents. 

Even in the most hateful days in the '90s of Prop. 187, when Californians wanted to deny social services to immigrant families, there was still a sense of keeping families together. 

And now because he always wants to be like no other president or politician before him, Trump has taken an anti-immigrant stand and made it so extreme and inhumane, even Republicans can't stand it.

This is plain and simple, tafu

It was so tafu, snafu was no longer adequate.

To prove how tafu it was, when Trump tried to undo the situation, he issued an unnecessary executive order that didn't address the 2,300 or so kids already entangled in the mess he made.  

The order also didn't undo that zero-tolerance policy on border crossing. Zero tolerance, by the way, generally means no or limited justice. It's the kind of thing you would expect from a man who would be dictator. 

Trump's order espouses a policy that essentially says the family that border crosses together can stay together--in jail. But that flies in the face of current law that currently puts a 20-day limit on children being detained.
 
6-28march.jpg

Most border cases take anywhere from two to four years by current estimates.

Did Trump think that one through? Did he think through any of it?

And then New York Congresswoman Kathleen Rice tells CNN that for many of the children, there is no information connecting them with a parent. No way to link them to their families. What

And nothing in the executive order resembling a plan? 

Simply Tafu.

Instead, Trump has blamed Democrats, of course. And then he made numerous statements about how open borders really hurt America.

Funny how open borders used to be the belief of a man who for decades was seen as the standard bearer of conservative America, the ultra-Republican William F. Buckley, who saw open borders as analogous to the need for free trade and free market policies.

That's what the Republican Party used to stand for, as well as balanced budgets and fiscal restraint.

But since Trump, forget it. 

Just in the last week, there's not just talk but action on trade wars, closed borders, and taking children from parents.

You can debate the first two. 

But the last is undeniably true, disgustingly un-American, and so very much TAFU.

*     *     *
Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


Posted by:Emil Guillermo | 0 comments

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