Category Archives: civilrights

挺梁后记: 大选启示录

侠客行,约翰
(转自巴尔的摩中文学校公众号)

2.20挺梁游行是笔者四十多年生涯中参加的第二次大规模游行。多年以前,一大批崇尚民主自由的年轻人,怀惴美好的愿望,离开自己的家乡,亲人和朋友,远渡重洋,来到这一片富足,快乐,自由,开放的土地。多年以来,我们勤奋努力地工作,忍受着孤独和不能陪伴父母的痛苦,一步一步地走到今天。与其他族裔比较,华人在经济地位上卓有成效;但在追求相应的政治地位上,华人还有很长的路要走。世界上没有免费的午餐,在美国这个崇尚力量的国家,权利丶公平是要自己争取的!没有想到,二十多年前心中埋下的‘民主’的种子,多年以后在大洋彼岸发芽开花, 真是“三十年河东,三十年河西”啊。

华人声势浩大的2.20 游行是一个可以载入史册的事件: 因为梁警官, 华人空前地团结起来, 让我们看到了在美华人的希望。许多人意识到华人们不能再一盘散沙; 不团结的华人会被其它民族各个击破, 当做替罪羊,逐渐边缘化,比如读书被AA,工作被AA,还要被人拉着去AA监狱。个人认为, 这个事件对我们来说是危机, 也是时机, 让我们华人确确实实地感到参政的急迫性。不管游行有没有用, 至少让人看到我们的力量和决心。后来的事件发展证明,“不平则鸣”在美国是有用的。

2016年是个多事之秋: 2月20当天也是突然离世的最高法院保守派大法官Antonia Scalia 的葬礼; 在全国范围内, 2月20 日Donald Trump在South Caroline共和党初选中渐露头角; 而在本地, 2月20 日这天也是前不久因公殉职的两名警察出殡之日。那两位中年警察在Panera Bread店里被一流浪汉用枪击中,当场死亡,留下未成年的孩子。出殡之日,全城高速公路部分封锁, 由救火车开路, 护送着两位警察的灵车, 沿高速南下,经环城公路西行, 上另一高速将两位警察葬于城北的一个公墓。笔者的车经过高速公路的天桥时, 目睹许多车辆停在路边,很多白人自发站在天桥上,目送着下面缓缓行驶的灵车,神情肃穆,面带忧伤: 这是这个骄傲民族的无声抗议! 看着这一切,联想到前两天新闻里提及奥巴马总统在白宫接见了Black life matters的领䄂, 笔者心中忽然一阵茫然, 这难道是我们背井离乡,千里迢迢投奔的美国?

不可否认的是, 美国如今正遭遇百年未有之僵局,受到内外两方面的挑战。在内部,不同族裔的人口比例正在发生变化,社会资源的分配不公问题日益严重。华人与美国中产一样,一方面被金融集团巧取豪夺,一方面要与被资本家因逐利而抛弃的无产者分配有限的社会资源。而在外部,以中国为代表的全球化正在挑战着美国头号工业国的位置。特别是2008年金融危机后, 贫富分化日趋严重, 中产阶级不断萎缩, 社会治安每况愈下, 种族矛盾也日益尖锐。全国各地所发生的事,正是整个美国社会目前的缩影:有着“白人至上”特权的白人中产被剥削;以“Black life matters”为代表的社会底层被压抑; 而作为模范少数族裔的华人被剥削和打压! 然后是日益加深的种族矛盾和阶层争斗。

问题到底出在哪? 这样的局面对谁最有利? 一则微信上的寓言很深刻地描述了这样一个场景: 假设世界某处有一个小岛, 岛上有一百个居民, 但只有一个餐厅, 每天只供应一百个大饼。岛上所有的居民都到这个餐厅就餐,但这一百个人中有10个是特殊阶层,每天比其他九十个人提前用餐,挥霍掉九十个大饼。其他九十个人每天只能共享十个大饼,于是经常为如何分配而争论不休,甚至大打出手, 以致于忘记去寻找其他九十个大饼的下落。

这则寓言和圣经旧约里巴比伦塔的典故异曲同工:古时人们想修一个通天塔,修到一半时,上帝害怕人们真的通天了,于是让人们说不同的语言,从此人们不能互相沟通,吵来吵去,修塔也就不了了之。现代社会,人们虽然说着同一种语言,但意见不一样,还是吵来吵去。更可恶的是,有的人还扮演着上帝的角色,用一个个议题将人们分裂:堕胎丶福利丶医疗丶枪支丶同性恋等,怎一个乱字了得。这样分裂下的社会,直接将国家控制权拱手相让。因为没有两个人在所有议题上保持一致,加上美国的两党制,在大选时人们并不能找到与自己想法差不多的代言人,只能选自己党派的候选人。另外,事实经验告诉我们,民意很容易被误导,尤其是当主流媒体受背后金主控制时。 最后结果就是看似民主的选举其实是被扮演上帝角色的金融集团操控;两党其实是一党,而且是由走左右极端的蓝队和红队组成,没有人真正代表中产阶级的利益。这样的局面,从某种意义上来讲,不比有左中右的一党制高明多少, 因为绝对的权力带来绝对的腐败。 缺乏监管机制的华尔街一手遮天, 其中的腐败绝不是常人能想象的, 比如08年由华尔街贪婪导致的金融危机,最后还是由全国人民买单, 华尔街反而全身而退。同时, 美国目前的两党制, 在办事低效和对资源的浪费上, 令人叹为观止。

这篇文章撰写之时,美国大选正在如火如荼地进行。 让人大跌眼镜的是共和党候选人Donald Trump由局外人一下成为毫无悬念的党派提名人。无论媒体怎样打压,反对者怎样抗议,建制派怎样使绊脚石,Trump能走到今天的确不易。但就在笔者封稿之时, 美国政局愈发混乱不堪,民主党打着自由平等的旗号,先是Target 宣布厕所不分男女, 接着是North Carolina 和美国政府就北卡州上厕所必须按出生性别的提案对告,再下来是Disney冰雪奇缘第二集引入同性恋女伴, 最后就是掀起悍然大波的奥巴马要全美公立学校全面开放所有的厕所和换衣间给变性人用。

我们不歧视LGBT, 但是坚决反对任何反向歧视。民主党如此迫不及待地目光短视,冒天下之大不韪,反倒让人疑窦从生。 联系到美国实际上是被以华尔街为代表的金融集团所控制,这样的局势让人突发奇想,这是不是华尔街又一出“欲擒故纵”, “声东击西”的戏码? 一方面竭力反对共和党候选人, 一方法让执政的民主党连出臭招, 失去民心, 将民意赶到共和党政营, 最后的结果是共和党上台。这样做对金融集团有什么好处? 能够想到的是共和党上台后, 经济滑坡, 股市重创, 到时候华尔街媒体会说: “谁让你们让共和党上台的?” 有人也许会对阴谋论不屑一顾。对笔者来说, 我们已经过了“Too young, too simple, sometime naïve” 的阶段。八年前美国人民对奥巴马的期待,换来的不过是另一场伤害,今年的大选,会不会也是“换汤不换药”?

不管最后局势如何发展,几乎可以肯定的是,美国已不是一片乐土; 应对这样强大的专制政府和国家机器,个人力量实在微不足道,华人们必须抱团,先把自己的社区建设强大,才能对付外界各种困扰,以不变应万变。如果我们现在面临的是一个专制的政府,一个在某种程度上更复杂,更隐蔽,更狡猾的政体,那么, 不管你是支持民主党还是共和党,我们都在一个阵营。希望华人们放下成见,抛开国内带来的历史包袱,以主人翁的心态,精诚合作,一致团结对付巧取豪夺的人。

促进华人的团结, 现在正是一个好时机。我们可以利用微信,网络,YouTube, Facebook 等代表先进生产力的技术,加强沟通和各种信息分享。 华人们common sense 都差不多, 又最重视孩子的教育, 从与孩子教育有关的角度着手, 可以将大家团结起来, 比如马里兰州和弗吉利亚州的Chinese American Parents Association (CAPA) 。 同时, 我们华人应该突破“哑裔”的标签, 积极参政,利用美国游戏规则, 投入人力物力, 逐步进入美国政坛,改变我们在政治上的弱势地位。值得高兴的是,今年的总统初选,很多华人开始注册,投票,但这只是一个起步。 很多华人在投票时, 面对众多陌生的候选人, 都不知道该投谁。在年底的大选上,希望华人们即使在总统选举上有分歧,也应该集中火力争取左右地方的选举。比如说,大家可以组织起来分析各个候选人的业绩, 主张等, 将对华人整体有利的政治家推荐给大家。

华人家长都希望自己的孩子比自己过得的更好, 希望他们有参政意识, 那么何不我们给他们做个榜样, 改变一盘散沙,对政治漠不关心的局面,团结起来, 从自身做起, 从现在做起, 致力参政。前两天笔者第一次去参加了本县Board of Education 大会, 每次会上可以有十个家长发言。当天至少有三个穆斯林的人发言,要求平等对待不同宗教,要求学校在伊斯兰节日放假。当天还有两个非裔小孩发言,许多非裔大人发言。华人是最重视教育的,但在这种场合鲜有声音。笔者以为,大人小孩多参加这些活动,比带孩子上钢琴课更重要。再这样下去,美国已容不下一个安静的教室了。我们今天的付出,不是浪费时间,而是为了不让我们的孩子们将来像我们一样因为努力工作而受到惩罚。同时,孩子们会沿着我们的脚步,站在我们的肩上,有着更高的起点。

千里之行,始于足下,让我们以2.20挺梁活动为起点,携手共进,团结起来,以华人的聪明才智, 建立一个我们能安居乐业的家园。

希望多年以后,我们回首往事,能发出不枉此生的感慨。

Civil Rights and the Promise of Equality (Double Exposure)

Volume 2 of Double Exposure commemorates the ongoing fight to 512wco1NJfL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_fulfil the promise of freedom and equality for all American citizens, from the Civil War and Reconstruction to the present. It features powerful images from, for example, Leonard Freed’s series, Black in White America, Ernest C. Withers’s photographs of the Sanitation Workers’ Solidarity March in Nashville, and Charles Moore’s documentation of police brutality during the 1963 Birmingham Childrens’ Crusade.

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and a professor at NYU School of Law.

Race, Religion, and Civil Rights: Asian Students on the West Coast, 1900-1968 (Asian American Studies Today)

Histories of civil rights movements in America generally place little or no emphasis on the activism of Asian Americans. Yet, as this fascinating new study reveals, there is a long and distinctive legacy of civil rights activism among foreign and American-born Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino students, who formed crucial alliances based on their shared religious affiliat514v-J0nPbL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ions and experiences of discrimination.

Stephanie Hinnershitz tells the story of the Asian American campus organizations that flourished on the West Coast from the 1900s through the 1960s. Using their faith to point out the hypocrisy of fellow American Protestants who supported segregation and discriminatory practices, the student activists in these groups also performed vital outreach to communities outside the university, from Californian farms to  Alaskan canneries. Highlighting the unique multiethnic composition of these groups, Race, Religion, and Civil Rights explores how the students’ interethnic activism weathered a variety of challenges, from the outbreak of war between Japan and China to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Drawing from a variety of archival sources to bring forth the authentic, passionate voices of the students, Race, Religion, and Civil Rights is a testament to the powerful ways they served to shape the social, political, and cultural direction of civil rights movements throughout the West Coast.

Wrongful Prosecutions of Economic Espionage …

CBS 60 Minutes this Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 7:00PM ET/PT for a special broadcasting about the wrongful prosecutions of economic espionage including Temple University Professor Xiaoxing Xi and National Weather Service hydrologist Sherry Chen.

CBS 60 minutes: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/collateral-damage-60-minutes-bill-whitaker/
CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/u-s-fight-against-chinese-espionage-ensnares-innocent-americans/

For more information on the case of Sherry Chen, please visit www.sherrychendefensefund.com. The collected trust fund is used for legal related expenses. Any left over funds, if any, goes to non profit charitable organizations. Helping Sherry is like helping ourselves.

The Committee of 100 submits the following comment on Privacy Act

To Whom It May Concern:

The Committee of 100 submits the following comment on Privacy Act: Implementation of Exemptions; Department of Homeland Security/ALL–038 Insider Threat Program System of Records, Docket Number DHS-2015-0050:

The Privacy Act was enacted to safeguard against misuse and abuse of information and data about an individual collected by the government. DHS proposes major, extensive exemptions from the Privacy Act under the National Insider Threat Program, including avoidance of accounting for disclosure, denial of an individual from accessing his or her own records, and collection and retention of information about an individual regardless of relevancy or accuracy and without notification.

The Committee of 100 strongly supports law enforcement in general, and has done so in the past. There is a singular concern in this instance that the DHS proposal is too broad and should reflect a needed protection or assurance about the importance of protection of innocent individuals who may be caught up in DHS’ activities and processes.

Historically in our country, Asian Americans have been subjected to incredible discrimination including the Chinese Exclusion Act. Again, during the Second World War, individual census data was used to identify, collect and intern Japanese Americans although such disclosure was prohibited by law. In more recent times, an overzealous desire to protect American properties has overstepped legal boundaries. A Chinese American federal contractor was prosecuted by a biased investigation, which ultimately led to the presiding federal judge apologizing for the inappropriate prosecution and treatment at the end of the trial. Another Chinese American federal employee was wrongfully accused by an unreliable source based on the former’s national origin; serious damage had already been inflicted on the individual by the time the government dismissed her case. These matters shattered dreams, and destroyed careers, lives, and financial security.

Today, hundreds of thousands of Asian Americans serve our nation loyally and honorably as federal employees and contractors. The DHS proposal, as it stands, increases the risk that innocent individuals will be falsely accused in secret due to misunderstanding, prejudice, or
bigotry, and subject to unjust and damaging investigations and prosecutions with no recourse.

Therefore, the Committee of 100 recommends that the DHS proposal be modified to allow, at a minimum, for:
 An individual to be allowed to review at least a summary of his or her security file upon request;
 An individual, upon investigation or when accused of wrongdoing, to be allowed full access to his or her security file as part of due process;
 Irrelevant and inaccurate information to be purged from the individual’s records when their status is clear;
 Publicly available statistical summaries to be produced to track and monitor the status and trends of the collection and use of information;
 Third-party monitoring to be established to review regularly the inherent policies and practices related to the program.
Thank you for considering our comments.

Sincerely,

Herman Li
Acting Chair

Download PDF: http://www.pavatar.us/Documents/C-100Comment20160324.pdf

Link to the  Proposed Rule document: https://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=DHS_FRDOC_0001-1439

STATEMENT OF ASSEMBLYMAN WILLIAM COLTON (D, WFP, 47 A.D. KINGS) ON THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE KINGS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY ON THE SENTENCING OF PETER LIANG

While the Press Release issued by the Kings County District Attorney, at least does not compound the injustice done to Peter Liang by recommending jail time, nonetheless it fails to correct the injustice created by the conviction of Peter Liang for manslaughter.

. I am pleased to see that the statement of the District Attorney contradicts the closing statement made by its prosecuting attorney in the case who told the jury that the defendant was somehow aware that a person was in the stairwell and turned and pointed his gun intentionally shooting at the victim. This gross misstatement was not based on any facts or evidence presented in the case and should have resulted in the granting of the Defense Attorney’s motion for a mistrial.
A sentencing recommendation of five years probation, with six months of home confinement and 500 hundred hours of community service leaves Peter Liang, marked as a convicted felon.

Never before has a defendant been convicted of manslaughter based upon such a lack of law or facts to justify such a conviction.

The unjust conviction came about under a unique fact pattern which brought together both Peter Liang, a rookie NYC Police Officer, teamed with another rookie NYC Police officer, and Akai Gurley, a totally innocent person using the stairways because of the lack of dependability of the building elevators, in a notoriously crime ridden and dark stairway directly resulting from the failure of the NYC Housing Authority to maintain the Pink houses in a safe and habitable state.
Since the conviction we have seen both the New York Housing Authority and the New York City Police Department scampering to correct their own internal policy failures, which bear the true cause of this tragedy. NYCHA seeks to shift blame to its workers despite evidence that the lights were out for months and not merely one half hour from the end of a workers shift. The New York Police Department seeks to blame a training officer its charges failed to adequately provide CPR training to the two rookie officers, while promising to issue a directive no longer partnering two rookie officers.
Justice can only be achieved in this case by dismissing the conviction as not supported upon law or facts or in the alternative declaring a mistrial and overturning the conviction. Any other solution simply perpetuates the injustice and results in the continued seeking a scapegoat to distract from the failure of city agencies and city officials to meet their obligations properly.

To avoid a repeat of tragic event, city government and its officials must do better to deliver services to protect and serve the people of New York City.