WASHINGTON, D.C. – On June 23, 2011, the 29th anniversary of the racially motivated murder of Vincent Chin, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus spoke out against a growing trend of anti-Chinese rhetoric in political ads that use Chinese language and imagery to portray candidates as sympathetic to China at the expense of American interests.
Last year, the New York Times estimated that 29 such ads were released in one week alone, and that tens of millions of dollars have been spent on these types of attacks. The Washington Post reported that over 250 anti-China ads were aired during the 2010 campaign cycle. This past week, Mark Amodei, a Republican State Senator running for Congress in Nevada, released an ad that depicts Chinese soldiers marching on the U.S. capitol.
Vincent Chin died on June 23rd, 1982, after he was brutally beaten with a baseball bat by two Detroit auto-workers who verbally accused him of being the reason they were out of work. The incident took place during a period of heightened anti-Japanese sentiments when the rise of the Japanese auto-industry was seen as the cause of U.S. job losses. Chin, a Chinese American, was mistaken as being Japanese by his attackers, neither of whom received any jail time for the murder.
“More and more candidates are resorting to these cheap scare tactics to score political points. They need to understand just how dangerous this language can be for Asian Pacific Americans, especially today, on the 29th anniversary of the murder of Vincent Chin,” said Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), CAPAC Chairwoman. “Vincent’s story is a reminder to all Americans that this rampant scapegoating can escalate into real violence against our communities. I urge all those seeking political office, Democrats and Republicans, to focus on finding real solutions rather than pandering to these baseless fears.”
“Twenty-nine years ago today, Vincent Chin was pronounced dead after a brutal beating brought on by anti-Asian and anti-immigrant fears,” said Rep. Mike Honda (CA-15), CAPAC Chair Emeritus. “His death and the eventual acquittal of his attackers have served as a rallying call for the Asian American Pacific Islander community; reminding us that no matter how much we accomplish or contribute, we must engage in a constant struggle for justice.
“Much progress has been made since Vincent’s death, yet we still live in an America where it is very possible to be the victim of racially motivated crime,” he added. “This is why I am especially saddened to see a growing trend of anti-Chinese rhetoric across the country, especially by those who seek political office.”
Honda said that as a Japanese American who was held in an internment camp during World War II solely because his ethnic heritage, he knows how damaging it can be when leaders make policy based upon misconceptions and stereotypes.
“It is my hope that those who engage in this rhetoric recognize the influence their words can have on others,” he added. “For some, Vincent Chin’s death is a historical footnote, but for countless AAPI who have endured the struggle to build their lives and this country into the great nation it is today, his death is an example of how easily all they have fought for can be taken away by hate and intolerance.”
Rep. David Wu (OR-1), said he was deeply disturbed by the xenophobic implications of recent political ads that use China as a scapegoat to discuss the U.S. economy.
“Given our country’s dark history of anti-Chinese discrimination – from the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act to the racially-motivated murder of Vincent Chin exactly 100 years later – these fear-mongering ads have potentially dangerous consequences, especially for Asian Pacific Americans,” said Wu. “Disagreements over the direction of America’s economy are valid; but fear and racially-tinged imagery only serve to degrade civil discourse into prejudice.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently Chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.