Chinese-American Studies: Wen Ho Lee Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3006 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Race

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Not only did the common Asian-American feel outraged, but also the leaders of this community who were very outspoken in demanding that Dr. Lee be compensated in some way. Former UC Berkeley Chancellor Chang-lin Tien, the first Asian-American scientist appointed to the National Science Council, stated that the case was at a critical juncture after Lee's acquittal. As a result, instead of letting go of the issue, the Asian-Americans should unite and demand a complete investigation of the Wen-ho Lee affair. He believed that the community has a right to know if there were any racist reasons behind Lee's prosecution; since if there were any, the community should not tolerate and demand justice. Tien also believed that it was the initial protests by the Asian-American community, which finally helped in turning "the tide of media coverage away from blatant acceptance of his guilt to a less biased, more open-ended approach." This could be seen through the different programs that went on air. For instance CBS's 60 minutes aired an interview with Lee which allowed him to give his side of story. Following this, the Washington Post ran an interview with Robert S. Vrooman, head of counter-intelligence at the Los Alamos National Research Lab, in which Vrooman stated that racism was the actual reason behind Lee's prosecution by the Energy Department.

There are also pockets of Chinese-American individuals who abstain from commenting against the U.S. government but nevertheless believe that the case was based on racial grounds.

Professor Ling-chi Wang, head of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, is one such individual. However Wang wants the community to file a lawsuit on Wen-ho Lee's behalf and on behalf of all those Chinese-American scientists and engineers he believes might be the future targets of the government's anti-espionage campaign. Wang's idea is not a mere reactionary one. In fact it has much legal grounds. Paul M. Igasaki, deputy director of the Federal Equal Opportunity Employment Council, believes that the Chinese-American community has all the legal rights to either initiate an investigation or bring a lawsuit against the U.S. government. This is so because the loyalty of many Chinese-American engineers with America has been questioned up front, which is against the law.

The reason the Chinese-American community is so bent upon taking legal action is because of the repeated cases that the community has experienced in the past. One such example is that of Hu Chi Min, a former physicist at NASA who was the target of an FBI investigation 17 years ago. Though no charges were ever filed against him, the investigation resulted in NASA terminating him from employment with them. Furthermore, he experienced domestic problems because of the investigation resulting in the failure of his marriage. With the Wen Ho Lee case damaging the repute of yet another scientist, Hu Chi Min has considered filing a class action lawsuit on behalf of himself, Lee and other Asian-American scientists and engineers, charging that the government has singled them out for a discriminatory treatment on the racial basis. He added that he had a sufficient number of opinions backing his claim where the lawyers he consulted agreed that a certain racist stereotype was applied to these professionals which was similar in essence, to the racist profiling police use against blacks for example.

Furthermore, there are some who believe that if the Asian-American community fails to take any action, not only would Dr. Lee be insulted but also the days he has spent in custody would go to waste. For instance, Lester Lee, the first Asian-American regent at the University of California stated that the entire community should support Dr. Lee. This could be witnessed in the open support of Lee by the Asian-American community in different ways. For instance some of the people belonging to the Chinese-American community started a fund raising campaign to help Lee fight the case. Moreover the Committee of One Hundred, a group of high-profile Chinese-Americans that includes architect I.M. Pei, cellist Yo Ma, former Delaware State Lieutenant-Governor S.B. Woo and others came together to raise funds in order to help Lee. The Chinese-American Benevolent Association also contributed whereby some $10,000 was raised and a committee was set up to plan a legal strategy. Some Chinese-American luminaries stated that distinguished Chinese-American societies could support Lee. Professor Ling-chi Wang said "Chinese For Affirmative Action" could provide leadership for the legal strategy. The CFAA could also help bring all Chinese-American groups together and set up a reserve fund (Dan).

It is important to note here that such a reaction has taken place because the Lee case has managed to arouse the "wrath of the country's most self-effacing and soft-spoken minority, Asian-Americans." According to some, the Lee case is similar to the Dreyfus case and what it had meant for the French Jews a century ago. This is because, in both cases, reality hit the leaders of the respective communities where they "were jolted out of a complacent optimism over their prospects for assimilation" because of the injustice one of them have had to experience for belonging to a race different than the country's majority.

The Chinese-American community was also angered about how the government, the Justice Department and the Energy Department managed to escape by not required to " address accusations of selective prosecution, racial profiling, xenophobic rhetoric and unconstitutional maneuvering." The reason, the Asian-American community has felt so outraged is because there was a list of non-Asians at Los Alamos suspected of similar offences who were never charged and hence they feel that Dr. Lee was singled out and selectively prosecuted for his color or race.

Prior to Lee's case, Asian-Americans were confident that they enjoyed the same rights of citizenry as any other American national. However the Lee case has broken the trust of Asian-American community in the American constitution. Such a concern has been voiced by many Asian-Americans such as Howard Chua-Eoan who feels that Asians are considered aliens to the concept of American nation and hence can never be assimilated. The Chinese-Americans are especially aware of the paranoia America feels towards China which it continues to associate with Communism and the Cold War (Borger). The Lee case has therefore resulted in organized protests in order to protect the Asian-American community. Therefore the Asian-American response to Lee case consists of a variety of organized efforts. For instance Wen Ho Lee's supporters submitted over 15,000 signatures July 3 in a campaign for a presidential pardon for Lee's single felony count of mishandling classified material. Congressman Mike Honda D-San Jose also contributed by taking the petition to President George Bush. The campaign has been founded and led by Cecilia Chang of Fremont who believes that the fight is not for Wen Ho Lee alone but the entire nation that it represents which includes every American of Asian descent. She added that such organized response would guard and protect the Asian-Americans against what may happen in the future. The campaign for getting as many signatures in support of Wen Ho Lee as possible extended itself to the internet where the supporters signed up online at www.wenholee.org.The petition campaign was co-sponsored by the Sacramento Chinese-American Political Action Committee, East Bay Asian Voters Consortium, Association of North California Chinese Schools, South Alameda County Peace and Justice Coalition, and Joint Chinese University Alumni Association of Southern California. Endorsers included Citizens for a Better Community (Fremont), Honolulu Japanese-American Citizens League and United Muslims of America (Sunnyvale) (www.news.mcmonline.com).

Therefore as seen above, the Asian-American community was jolted out of its complacent optimism and felt its trust betrayed. As a result, it reacted through all possible means.

CONCLUSION

The Asian-Americans have always been the model minority community (www.csmonitor.com).They have remained politically detached, have contributed to the American economy in a number of ways and have earned academic achievements. For their exemplary behavior, however, they feel they have been punished instead of rewarded and alienated rather than assimilated. The Wen Ho Lee case has been therefore a sore point for the community, which indicates that their hope for assimilation is all gone.

References

Indictment of Wen Ho Lee.

A www.fas.org

For Asian-Americans, Lee Case a stark Signal. http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2000/08/30/fp1s2-csm.shtml

Mainichi, Hokubei. Full Pardon for Wen Ho Lee Sought. Jan 2, 2002. www.news.mconline.com/news/view-article.html

Borger, Julian. Shades of Dreyfus haunt Asian-Americans

Dan, Shao.Wen-Ho Lee -- Chinese-Americans Seethe Against "Racism"

Koo, George. Only an Open Public Inquiry Can Put the Lee Case to Rest. www.imdiversity.com/article_detail.asp?Article_ID=216

Wang, Ling-Chi. Bitter Victory for Wen Ho Lee.

A www.imdiversity.com/article_detail.asp?Article_ID=15

Koo, George. Wen Ho Lee: Ethnicity Can Tip Scales of Justice.

A www.imdiversity.com/article_detail.asp?Article_ID=216 www.imdiversity.com/article_detail.asp?Article_ID=84 [END OF PREVIEW]

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