A special 350-page issue of UCLA’s Amerasia Journal published in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and U.S. retaliation continues Amerasia’s mission to provide the most up-to-date and provocative material in the field of Asian-American studies and to offer a counterbalance to today’s mass media coverage.
Published by UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center and co-edited by Russell C. Leong and Don T. Nakanishi, “After Words: Who Speaks on War, Justice, and Peace?” is a “crisis” edition of Amerasia Journal that contains the analyses, critiques and creative works of 40 Asian and Asian-American scholars, writers and activists. As the premiere scholarly journal in Asian-American studies for 30 years, Amerasia Journal is an active forum for independent analysis and opinion on war, justice and peace. The journal will be available March 15.
The interlinked essays, analyses, memoirs and stories of the 40 writers within this issue highlight the geopolitical crisis of the continuing violence in the Middle East and all over the world, and also provide vital “word documentation” of the Asian-American, South Asian and Islamic presence in America in the days before, and following, Sept. 11. All of the pieces were written immediately after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks and during the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan. Included is a chronology of anti-Asian hate crimes and photographs by Corky Lee, Eric Chang and Mary U. Kao.
The first section, titled “Crisis,” opens with the essay “Oh, Say, Can You See,” written by Bay Area–based journalist and activist, Helen Zia. She writes: “I felt that familiar stab of self-consciousness ... My Asianness is so unremarkable in the San Francisco Bay area. But elsewhere in America, in D.C. and the Mid-Atlantic states where I grew up, or even in parts of California, an Asian face still signals ‘Foreigner’ — especially at key patriotic moments. September 11 was unquestionably one of those moments.”
Part journal reflection and part cautionary tale, Zia’s essay points out that one of the many harmful aftereffects of the Sept. 11 attacks is that Asian Americans, once again, must prove their patriotic worth and disprove their label of “perpetual foreigner.”
The “Crisis” section also features new works by such noted writers as Jessica Hagedorn, Roshni Rustomji-Kerns and Vijay Prashad.
The second section, titled “Internment and Civil Liberties,” deals with the historical connections and legal implications of the current “war on terror.” In “Thinking Through Internment: 12/7 and 9/11,” Jerry Kang, a UCLA law professor, compares the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent internment of Japanese Americans to the Sept. 11 attacks and the plight Arab, Middle Eastern and South Asian Americans face today in a similar atmosphere of xenophobia. In assessing the possibility of a repeated internment, Kang writes: “Surely, as yet, it seems politically implausible to intern tens of thousands of American citizens of Arab descent in desert camps, for years, without individual determinations of guilt. But what about less severe curtailments of civil liberties, both de jure and de facto? (Recall that the first step of the internment process was a curfew.)”
Along the same vein, Moustafa Bayoumi, professor of English at City University of New York, Brooklyn College, asserts that already public sentiment is well on its way to rationalizing the tightening of civil liberties of “the few” in the name of national security for “the many.” He writes: “In the days following the attack (September 14/15), a Gallup Poll revealed that 49 percent of Americans supported ‘requiring Arabs, including those who are U.S. citizens, to carry a special ID.’ Fifty-eight percent also supported ‘requiring Arabs, including those who are U.S. citizens, to undergo special, more intensive security checks before boarding airplanes in the U.S.’”
The “Internment and Civil Liberties” section also includes a commentary by Frank Chin and a legal analysis by Eric K. Yamamoto and Susan Kiyoumi Serrano.
The third section, “Geopolitics,” draws out the linkages between the Sept. 11 attacks and the greater global, economic, political and cultural contexts. Long-time activist and theoretician Grace Lee Boggs, in a talk she gave shortly after the World Trade Center attacks, titled “Coming Full Circle,” writes: “the destruction of the World Trade Center that had taken place in five seconds before the eyes of the whole world on September 11 has been taking place in slow motion over the last fifty years in Detroit, but in Detroit a new society is rising up from the ashes.”
The writings in the “Geopolitics” section also include works by Arif Dirlik, David Palumbo-Liu and Vinay Lal.
In the fourth section, “For Peace,” Mari Matsuda, a law professor at Georgetown University, questions whether the war on terror will bring the peace that Americans demand and makes a call for all Americans to join the peace movement. In a reflective piece titled “Asian Americans and the Peace Imperative,” Matsuda writes: “No bombs are smart enough to ask what we must ask: If you take these lives in our name, what is the purpose? Is your end clear and is it just? Can we trust you to have a good map (Where is the Chinese embassy?) and a moral
compass? And most important, is this the only way?”
The “For Peace” section also includes the writings of James N. Yamazaki, Jeff Chang, Angela E. Oh and Michael F. Yamamoto.
The rest of the 350-page issue includes “Homeland Dispatches,” with works by Amitava Kumar, Irene Suico Soriano, Larry Antonio, Genaro Ly Ky Smith, Zhang Ziqing, Zhu Jun, Lei Mo and Suzi Wong; “After Words,” with works by Janice Mirikitani, Stephen Lee, Robert Ji-Song Ku, Ifti Nasim, ChorSwang Ngin, Rodney Jay C. Salinas and Russell Leong; community statements by Scholars of the Islamic Religion, Kenji G. Taguma of the NichiBei Times, The Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force (SMART), the Black Radical Congress, and Bob Wing, former editor of Colorlines magazine. A special Amerasia Journal chronology covering the U.S. intervention in the Middle East, the “war on terror,” and anti-Asian hate crimes rounds out the issue.
The new issue of Amerasia Journal Double Issue (27:3/28:1) will be available March 15 for $15 plus $4, shipping and handling (California residents please add 8.25 percent state tax) from the UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press, 3230 Campbell Hall, Los Angeles 90095-1546. Order by phone, (310) 825-2968; by email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through the Asian American Studies Center’s Web site at www.sscnet.ucla.edu/aasc.
Annual subscriptions (three issues) are $35 for individuals and $55 for libraries and institutions. For class orders, review copies or bulk discounts, e-mail email@example.com.