Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Commentary: "Rape Hobbles Bush Administration Policies"

(The following is both an expression of understanding of this Truthout article by Ann Wright and a critical response to the first comment posted below the article.)

While it would have been nice to have a little more of a breakdown of the progressive rapes and sexual assaults of Japanese women and girls by U.S. servicemen, that must not be taken to detract from the terrible fact that it is even occurring. There should be NO attacks occurring.

Similarly, the eventual dropping of charges in that one case, and the claim of lack of evidence in the other, DOES IN NO WAY MINIMIZE the fact that the attack happened in the first place. There are legal wranglings and political pressures on the Japanese courts by U.S. interests unfortunately, yet inevitably, involved, and it is small comfort to have the accused servicemen prosecuted or suicidal years after the fact for repeat offenses on American women -- after being allowed to retire or be dishonorably discharged for the previous offense in Japan.

The fact remains that women around the world -- whether civilians or servicewomen; abroad or at home -- are needlessly and thoughtlessly put in danger without access to fair and adequate legal and medical recourse. The fact remains that the culture of the U.S. military (and by extension, facets of U.S. society) accepts sexual assault as part of the lay of the land -- part of a boys will be boys mentality.
That mentality is not acceptable in the grade school classroom and is certainly not acceptable in what is supposed to be one of the noblest and most representative institutions of our nation.

Monday, May 26, 2008

'Harry Potter' Actor, Knox, Killed In Knife Fight

Robert Knox, who portrays Ravenclaw student Marcus Belby in the upcoming Harry Potter film, was killed in a knife fight while defending his brother at a London bar.

Eighteen-year-old actor Robert Knox was stabbed and killed outside a bar in southeast London on Saturday night. Knox portrayed Ravenclaw student Marcus Belby in the forthcoming movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

According to Fox News and its UK sister corporation, Sky News, Knox was defending his younger brother at the time and was not himself a part of the conflict. Knox one of six men injured in the brawl, but the only one to die.

On Monday, a 21-year-old man named Karl Bishop was arrested and charged with Knox's murder, as well as five counts of wounding with intent. He is scheduled to appear in the borough's Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Knox's parents have expressed their hope that his role in the Harry Potter film will bring attention to the rising wave of knife crimes in the UK. Knox is the 14th teenager to die violently in London this year.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A personal Chinese American reaction to the earthquake in China

Coming on the heels of Cyclone Nargis's devastation to Myanmar, the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that hit southern China filled me with anxiety. For the people hit, the families affected, and the Chinese throughout the world who wondered as to the safety of their families and friends, yes, but also an anxiety as to the reaction - or lack thereof - of the rest of the world. I worried that no one would care. I worried and believed that Americans in particular would see this as an opportunity to add to their arsenal of anti-Chinese rhetoric. I thought that donations of aid (although not as needed with this more open government than in Myanmar) and even condolence would not come because of anti-Chinese sentiment.

Thankfully, I was proven wrong on all these counts. But is my plummeting faith in the goodness, open-mindedness and even-measuredness of the human race when it comes to putting single-mindedness, ignorance and institutionalized prejudices aside really so surprising?

The sympathies and concerns of the world did come, although mainly from individuals and non-governmental organizations, since the usually common remarks of condolence were notably absent from U.S. leaders; while an admittedly meaningless token when not backed up with genuine action, it's become an expected response to any large-scale tragedy and its absence speaks volumes.
Still, good intentions can easily be premature, distorted and manipulated, or both. Take for example the report from Britain's The Independent that according to international aid org. Save the Children, China has been inundated with requests, offers and applications to adopt newly orphaned children in the last few days. The Chinese government is unlikely to bend to this pressure as they have already been staunching the constant flow of foreign adoptions of Chinese children, but the fact that these offers are being made when parents and children are still being searched for in the rubble... when parents who work in far-away factory towns are scrambling to get back to the countryside to find and hopefully identify their surviving children... when families are still coping with enormous loss, is, quite frankly, incredibly thoughtless. A cynic might comment that it figures that well-off couples in the West would immediately respond to another nation's tragedy in savior's clothing, as if the afflicted nation is incapable or unwilling to cope and care themselves. But it doesn't take a cynic to recognize the absence of both human empathy and reason in such impetuous actions.

I was born in the United States, raised here immersed in a mixture of American and Chinese values. I have never been to China and do not even read, write or speak any dialect of Chinese fluently. And yet the strong bond forged with my grandparents, as well as the millennia of fascinating and remarkable Chinese history, has given me enough pride in my heritage to make me hug it closer; make me more apt to defend it and more likely to sense it as being under attack. To be sure, ever since my elementary school days, I have been wary and critical of anything I could see as preluding a colonialization, imperialistic and assimilationist mindset, but I do not believe that this wariness is misplaced. And I still desire for this reaction to somehow effect change in the rash, impetuous, unthoughtful actions that others take towards China and foreign nations and peoples in general. Is it truly possible for this kind of transformation to occur? If so, can it happen before we destroy one another?