Asian Americans urged to speak up
Former US Ambassador to China Gary Locke called on Asian Americans to stand up against racial discrimination, at a fundraising event for US Congressman Mike Honda on Monday in Cupertino, California.
Locke, the first Chinese American to serve as a governor and ambassador in US history, told guests at the event, mostly Chinese community leaders, that racial discrimination existed not only in the past but also in the present, reminding them of the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese internment camps during World War II.
“Not a long time ago, the US said ‘we don’t allow Chinese to come into the United States’; and not long ago, they locked up Japanese, even kids, in prison camps during World War II,” Locke said.
He also said that “some of the people running for office” proposed to “kick out all the Muslims” due to recent terrorist attacks. “Just because a few people of Islamic faith committed terrible crimes doesn’t mean everybody is bad,” he said.
“That’s not what America stands for. America is a land of immigrants, whether our ancestors came from China, Poland, Ireland, Africa or Russia. America is great, because we have entrepreneurs from different cultures, and they bring these new ideas and new values. That’s why America is so great,” he said.
Honda, who represents California’s 17th District, known as Silicon Valley, spent part of his childhood in a Japanese-American internment camp.
He was there “long enough that I swore this country will not make the same mistake again,” he said. “As Chinese Americans, as Asian Americans, we know that a lot of us end up in this country as perpetual foreigners, though you were born here and speak English.”
“But under the constitution, each one of us, whether you have a document or not, whether you have visa or are out of status, you have the protection.”
Honda currently serves as honorary curator of the WWII Pacific War Memorial Hall, a museum of showing the history of Chinese resistance against Japanese aggression.
US Congressman Mike Honda, (center standing)former US Ambassador to China Gary Locke and Cupertino Mayor Barry Chang (third from right) and supporters at a fund-raiser for Honda on Monday in Cupertino, California.