As the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11 approaches, the United States continues to grapple with its ramifications. Threats of nuclear attack, the escalation of military force and the violation of civil liberties continue to change and challenge communities throughout the world. For Asian and South Asian Americans in the United States, the current state of affairs is a familiar, ironic reminder of their individual experience and collective history.
â€œAsian Americans on War & Peace,â€? a new book published by UCLAâ€™s Asian American Studies Center, addresses the parallels between recent world events and the legacy of war, xenophobia and resistance in Asian-American history. Twenty-four scholars, writers and activists reflect on Sept. 11 and its aftermath. The book incorporates various perspectives on the crisis, including geopolitical analyses, creative works and historical commentaries.
â€œEach morning, the war begins anew; each evening, the war takes on a new face,â€? said Russell Leong, the bookâ€™s co-editor and the centerâ€™s director of publications. â€œâ€˜Asian Americans on War & Peaceâ€™ is the first book to respond to the event of Sept. 11, 2001, from Asian-American perspectives, from the vantage point of those whose lives and communities in America have been forged both by war and by peace.â€?
Divided into four sections, the book begins with â€œWorlds of Crisis,â€? which documents the range of national and global reactions immediately following the terrorist attacks.
Renowned journalist Helen Zia starts off with her essay, â€œOh, Say, Can You See?â€? She links patterns of racial profiling of Asian Americans â€” In such cases as the Democratic campaign finance scandal, the Wen Ho Lee trial and the suspect role of Asian immigrants in the high-tech industry â€” as cautionary examples of the need to challenge the xenophobic frenzy against Arab and South Asian Americans.
â€œIf Asian Americans of every color and religion arenâ€™t speaking out against these travesties, then we are part of the problem, collaborators in our own oppressions,â€? Zia writes.
Jessica Hagedorn, Roshni Rustomji-Kerns, Vijay Prashad, Amitava Kumar and Leong follow with their thoughts on the significance of the events of Sept. 11.
The second section of the book is entitled â€œCivil Liberties and Internment.â€? Authors examine the mediaâ€™s dubbing of Sept. 11 as â€œanother Pearl Harbor,â€? along with the consequent detention of countless Arabs and South Asians, evoking the memory of Japanese-American internment during World War II.
Jerry Kang, a UCLA law professor, analyzes the selective claims of â€œnecessityâ€? and â€œnational security,â€? which he believes operate in a racist fashion during periods of war. The section also includes pieces in a similar vein by Frank Chin, Moustafa Bayoumi, Stephen Lee, Ifti Nasim and San Francisco poet laureate, Janice Mirikitani.
The third section, â€œGeopolitics,â€? engages the reader in a critical overview of the wider cultural, economic and political implications of the battle against terrorism. Arif Dirlik, history professor at Duke University, begins with his essay, â€œColonialism, Globalization and Culture: Reflections on September 11.â€? Despite condemning the terrorist attacks, Dirlik urges readers to keep in mind the horror of Taliban-supported crimes, as well as to investigate the United States-backed ventures that exploit and brutalize people of that region.
â€œLet us hope that â€¦ we can see our way more clearly out of the tragedies of our making,â€? he concludes. Works by Grace Lee Boggs, Vinay Lal and David Palumbo-Liu contribute to this message.
â€œPeaceâ€? is the fourth section. The writings of James Yamazaki, Jeff Chang, Angela Oh, Michael Yamamoto and Mari Matsuda call for compassion and vigilance in moving toward peace.
In his personal account, James Yamazaki, author and a UCLA pediatrics professor, addresses the question, â€œWhy Does a Pediatrician Worry About Nuclear Weapons?â€? He remembers witnessing the ravages of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. With the increasing speculation over nuclear buildup, he emphasizes the importance of a policy of deterrence.
â€œWe have reached a critical junction in manâ€™s history for survival on this planet that requires our combined intellect, resources and compassion for our fellow man to prevent another atomic holocaust,â€? Yamazaki writes.
The volume ends with a chronology of domestic hate crimes and worldwide mobilizations in the crisis thus far.
Throughout the book, archival photographs of Asian-American history and images of the Asian-American experience post-Sept. 11 by Corky Lee, Eric Chang and Mary Uyematsu Kao bridge the realities of past and present and suggest hope in the midst of warfare.
Don T. Nakanishi, director of the Asian American Studies Center, is the bookâ€™s co-editor.
The book for sells for $16.95 and can be ordered by contacting Thao Cha, (310) 825-2974 or firstname.lastname@example.org.