Monday, December 19, 2011

Looking Back at 2011 and 9/11

Looking back on this year, I came across as I was googling, a letter I wrote after 9/11 that was published first on 13 September 2001 and then reprinted this past September 13, 2011 when the Orange County Register republished letters reacting to 9/11.

Here's what the OC Register republished 13 September 2011, under the heading, "9/11 archive for Sept. 13: Another day of anger, grief," on the blog written by letters editor Betty Talbert. I like to think that my words still hold true a decade or more later:

IRVINE, Daniel C. Tsang: Not to condone the massacre and the horrible loss of life, but if the United States isn’t perceived as such an imperialist power causing havoc in the Third World, this country would not be a target of terrorism. To be sure, find and prosecute the perpetrators. But will the real lesson be learned? As a political entity, the United States needs to reassess its foreign policy. But no doubt, repressive legislation and repressive actions will follow instead.

They say it is a second Pearl Harbor. Will roundups and concentration camps be next? Let’s not go overboard on our reaction. If four crazy hijackers want to be suicidal, it’s not because of their religion.

Let’s not go overboard either on patriotic fervor. If this is war, civil liberties will become one of the first casualties unless we speak out. Sanity, calm and reflection are what is needed now, not vengeance. No more violence.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tom Hayden, at UCI, Looks Back and Ahead

Hayden as professor. To listen to the audio of Hayden's talk, click . Presented with the kind permission of Tom Hayden as another Subversity Online podcast. All photos © Daniel C. Tsang 2011.
60's activist Tom Hayden ventured on to the UC Irvine campus late last month, to espouse his views to a new audience of largely undergraduates organized by graduate student Alfredo Carlos and Social Ecology Prof. Rodolfo D. Torres.

A former California State Senator, Hayden spoke about "Economic Democracy and Alternative Futures" 29 November 2011 at UCI's Humanities Gateway, at an event sponsored by the Chican@/Latin@ Graduate Student Collective.

Hayden, a one-time Chicago 7 defendant who had authored the Students for a Democratic Society's manifesto, the Port Huron Statement, while a student at the University of Michigan, sounded more reformist than perhaps some old Sixties radicals would have liked. He said one needs take a long view of social movements, given that success may be elusive for decades, even for 80 years.

A pensive Hayden
He called the Dream Act undergraduates the "bravest" and said the cause of undocumented students in California is so "popular" that politicians like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Lt.Gov. Gavin Newsom could take on that campaign with nothing to lose.

He said the "Sixties were stolen" by assassinations, of JFK, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers. With the dreams stolen from them, "no wonder people become anarchists..."

But before his hour and half discourse on the Sixties through Obama ended, he called on the "fine" dean of the UCI Law School (without naming Erwin Chemerinsky) to have UCI law faculty conduct classes there debating the concept of corporations as people having First Amendment rights to spread propaganda. He avowed that such courses could well "fire up" students and spread across the nation, leading to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the notorious 2010 case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

Hayden answers questions from the audience

Friday, December 2, 2011

Historian Art Hansen on Orange County Nikkei Experience in WWII

Art Hansen right before his talk. Photograph © Daniel C. Tsang 2011.

KUCI Subversity Online Audio link: 19 October 2011 Talk. Permission kindly granted by Prof. Hansen to post the audio online.

A LOOK BACK on 2011: Orange County's top historian on Japanese Americans gave a vivid and fascinating talk on a segment of OC history that many do not know or may have forgotten if they knew it.

At the Nikkei Heritage Museum on 19 October 2011, Cal State Fullerton Historian Art Hansen focused on the life of OC-born Kazuo Masuda and the conditions faced by Japanese Americans in Orange County at the time. Masuda went from what became Fountain Valley to concentration camp (NOT "internment" camp as the US Government euphemistically called it) to fight for the US in the famed 442nd regimental combat team made up of Japanese Americans. After he was killed in battle in Italy, his body was initially refused burial in Westminster Memorial Cemetery because of his ethnicity, although the cemetery later relented after the Japanese American Citizens League and others raised a ruckus. It was Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell who flew to Orange County to bestow the Distinguished Service Cross in 1945 on his sister.

At an OC rally after the ceremony, Hollywood celebrities joined a multi-ethnic crowd. Among the guest speakers was a Capt. (Ret.) Ronald Reagan who declared, after turning to the Masuda family to thank them for Kazuo as a "true American": "Blood that has soaked into the sands of a beach is all one color."

Decades later the Masuda family reminded Reagan (by then president) of this 1945 speech when he seemed initially unwilling to sign the redress bill that compensated who survived the incarceration. Masuda's sister, June Masuda Goto, wrote to Reagan and convinced him to support the bill. Reagan invited her to Washington and she was present when the president signed it in 1988. In 1975 an school in Fountain Valley had also been named Kazuo Masuda Elementary School.

Art Hansen illustrated Kazuo Masuda's life with slides depicting the various events in the Japanese American's life. The story of this Nissei war hero from OC is also told in a book available at the event, From the Battlefields to the Home Front: The Kazuo Masuda Legacy by Russell K. Shoho and published by the Nikkei Writers Guild, a division of Japanese American Living Legacy, a non-profit.

Participants also heard from Irvine artist Chizuko Judy Sugita DeQueiroz, whose book, Camp Days, 1942-1945, documented, in text and artwork, her years of incarceration. She presented excerpts from a new documentary DVD about her life. Her artwork is currently on display at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose until December 31, 2011.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Free Speech At UCI: Shut Down Access Roads!

Let's not cross the police! Police lines block access to free speech area

Update (6:30 pm): Chancellor Michael Drake issues a statement saying "Our campus policies treat all speakers equally. We regulate only the time place and manner of speech on a 'content-neutral' basis, as required by state and federal law and university policy. This is true no matter how strongly we may disagree with the speaker or how antithetical the speaker’s message may be to campus values and principles" but Drake does not address the earlier report of UCI telling Jones he would be arrested should he show up.

Update (2:29 pm): Jones threatened with arrest if he shows up... UCI spokesperson says: ""We're not denying him access to the campus, just that particular area because it was already spoken for", while Jones says that "The Event Services department informed us that the entire university campus is free for public speaking at any time." Dispatch in Daily Breeze. See also OC Weekly update, where another UCI spokesperson said "Jones was in contact with UCI officials this morning, and was told he would be arrested if he returns in order to 'protect the safety of UCI students and the campus community'."

It may be the biggest non-event in UC Irvine history. This morning, campus police at UC Irvine shut down roads leading to the flagpoles area (where speakers usually gather) and even restricted pedestrian traffic. All because, as UCI employees soon found out, Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who burned the Koran last March, was rumored to be speaking on campus.

Is this how UCIPD will react to controversial speakers post-UC Davis pepper-spray? Forget all the talk about the UCs being open to free speech. Let's just shut down part of the campus so no one can address anyone. If this is not content-based restriction, masking under the fig leaf of security, what is?

I first encountered this heightened state of security, it turned out, when I attempted to drive to my usual parking spot across from Langson Library this morning. The road was blocked and I had to park in a parking structure some ways away. But I was not allowed to walk on the road to the Library. Instead, a man wearing a UCI parking jacket said it was for "protest detail" -- and that I had to go through the student center building and walk another way to my office.
Chalk asks if tuition is paying for this police action

A 9:55 am email from a unit of the Libraries informed me that: "Without any advance notice from campus, the delivery access to Langson
Library has been closed off from Pereira. I don't have any information
at this time other than campus PD is enforcing this. Therefore,
deliveries (mail, vendors, etc.) today will be off schedule...."

A campus-wide ZOTAlert soon followed at 10:33 am: ZotAlert: Anteater Plaza, Ring Rd, flagpoles, and Pereira are closed immediately to pedestrian and vehicular traffic until further notice for security reasons.

This was followed at 11:23 am by a Safety Update: Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who made news by burning the Quran last March, announced he would be speaking in the area of the flag poles at 11:30 on Thursday, Dec. 1. Intelligence received by UCIPD
indicated suspicious activity that raised concern about the safety of
the event. As a precaution the area has been closed and no events will
take place in this area. Other campus activity is continuing as normal.
News photographers wait for missing pastor

Further ZotAlerts followed two minutes later: The pastor who made news by burning a Quran, announced he would speak at the flag poles today. UCIPD has intell of suspicious activity raising safety concerns.

And at 11:26 am: As a precaution, the area has been closed and no events will take place. Otherwise, the campus is open and operating normally.

As the UC begins reviewing police practices systemwide, today's campus police response should serve as an excellent case study of how not to over-react in a free speech situation. The police department has a lot of explaining to do. At a minimum, reveal what the "security concern" was and let the public judge. -- Daniel C. Tsang.

All photographs © 1 December 2011 Daniel C. Tsang