Monday, April 28, 2008

Re: Jack Cafferty at CNN and how to be effective politically

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world” Mahatma Gandhi

Dr. Edward Lin - E-mail April 26, 2008

Dear friends,
I do not know where you are located, but presume you are from the Tampa Bay area. Please correct me if I am wrong. I have extremely limited ability to read Chinese and therefore rarely save document in Chinese. I regret that I no longer have the article you are interested in.

You asked a very important question that more of us should think about, “What can we do as proud Chinese in this case?”. Assuming that you are interested in an answer that will really work, please read and reflect on my answer below.

First of all, if you are not a US permanent resident or citizen, you are much more limited in what you can do in this case. In other words, the US government and elected representatives (congressmen, senators, etc) will treat your protest as “just a protest from a foreigner.” You are not likely to get much (if any) desired response. Indeed, if it is expedient (convenient) to score political points by slamming down on such protests by Chinese citizens, you can expect many politicians and public figures to seize the chance to do so. After all, the very reason Cafferty said what he did was to boost his own ratings at the expense of China. At a time of depressed US economy, rising unemployment and loss of international standing, public figures/politicians/administration are looking for a scapegoat to blame or our domestic and international problems. That convenient scapegoat is China and I predict there will be even more Cafferty-like incidents.

However, if you are a PR or US citizen, the politicians are more likely to listen to your concerns. Why? Because it is ultimately votes that will get them into office or help them stay in office. As a minority group, we are not expected to have the ability to garner huge numbers of votes (possible only when we vote together as a bloc) so it is much harder to get the politicians’ attention UNLESS we show them that we are united as a political group.

As a clear example, all you have to do is to study AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It is the single most powerful lobby in the US. There is no American politician at the state or national level who can hope to win any election without the consent or blessing of AIPAC. If the politician says or does anything that is not to AIPAC’s liking, AIPAC declares that it will defeat the anti-Semite candidacy of that politicians. And because American Jews are united behind AIPAC not just in words (speeches, demonstrations, lobbying pressure, etc.) but also in action (contributing lots of money), AIPAC delivers! So, with time, no one dares to go against AIPAC and that is why you see our foreign policy shaped the way it is towards Israel. So, even though the American Jews are a minority, because they are united and motivated to participate in the democratic process of government, they are able to make their voice be heard—LOUD AND CLEAR!

In January 2007, Jimmy Carter released his book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. " In the book, he criticized the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and blamed Israel, the Palestinians, the United States and others. Kenneth Stein, a Carter Center fellow and a longtime Carter adviser immediately resigned in protest; and this was followed by the en mass resignation of fourteen members of an advisory board to Jimmy Carter's human rights organization. It was a show of political force to embarrass Carter for his criticism of Israel. Even board members who were not American Jews felt they needed to resign in order not to be viewed a being unfriendly towards Israel.

We have much to learn from American Jews and their political effectiveness. If they can do it, so can we; and we have to start now.

Starting with each and every one of us. Yes, that means YOU and ME.

As you probably know, there are fewer Jews in America than there are Chinese, but their political effectiveness compared to ours is like comparing day to night. The “secret “ is their high unity and extremely low apathy. In contrast, the American Chinese are ununited and extremely apathetic. When you look at the impressive number of 700,000 supporters of 80-20, less than 1% (yes, less than one percent!!) pay their membership dues. And if you are not already an 80-20 dues-paying member, you know which group you belong in.

Chinese Americans in the US continue to cling to Chinese political ways which not only don’t work in a democracy but is self-defeating. How often have you heard your well-intentioned family or friends tell you, “Don’t get involved in politics and stay out of trouble!” or “Mind your own business”? Well, it is exactly this kind of mentality and BAD advice that got us into the predicament we face as a group in America: We are viewed as “model citizens” (meaning mostly we will work like mules without complaint) and there need be little concern about abusing us at the work place (Just blame/dump on Chang and Zhang because they’re too timid to complain and lack the political power to fight back anyway).

Is this the future we want for ourselves and our children? Can we feel good that this is the legacy we will leave to the next generation of Chinese Americans?

So, the best way for all of us to be effective is to become empowered and active in the American democratic process. Through unity and bloc voting that is advocated by 80-20, we can tip the election results in the direction we need in order to lift the glass ceiling for Asian Americans, to get more Asian American federal judges and an Asian American supreme court justice so that events such as the internment of Japanese Americans can never happen again.

Which of the following two do you think will more likely lead to constructive positive action?:
1) 300,000 Chinese citizens demonstrating in the US about unfair US policies and press, or
2) 150,000 Chinese Americans demonstrating in the US about unfair US policies and press?

The first one will lead to an examination of visa policies that resulted in “so many of them” in this country and the second will get the politicians to sit up and listen to our concerns. You and I both understand that the future of China and the US are inextricably intertwined. We are so heavily interdependent, the only intelligent thing to do is to engage in policies and practices that are win-win and mutually benefitting. As patriotic Americans, our duty is to help our elected officials and our administration see and understand that it is destructive and counterproductive to engage in name calling and hostile policies towards China or in discrimination and unfair practices towards Chinese in America. Just as American Jews lobby our government to recognize the importance of Israel as an ally, American Chinese should do likewise.

It is important for Chinese citizens to really understand that the best way they can help China in the international arena is to support Chinese Americans in their fight for equal opportunity and justice in America. 80-20 is focused on issues of equality and justice affecting Asian AMERICANS. It cannot and will not take a position on foreign governments but it takes action when issues relating to a foreign government (such as Cafferty on China) have the potential to impact Asian Americans. Only when Chinese Americans become strong in America can China have a powerful friend. Remember AIPAC? It is time to re-think the traditional (failed) strategy of the past and take heed of the wise-saying: “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

It is a lot easier to just mobilize a group to demonstrate and protest. It is a lot more EFFECTIVE to build the infrastructure (political organization) that enables Asian Americans to flex their political muscle through a bloc vote. If you have not already done so, I urge you to visit the 80-20 website below and to study the information there and take note of the landmark and historic progress that has been accomplished to date.

For Asian American who truly understand what is at stake, they do not ponder, ‘Can I afford to join 80-20?”

For Asian Americans who care about their future, the question is, “Can I afford NOT to?”

I hope you will join hands with me in DOING YOUR PART to make a real difference. Join 80-20 today and make a commitment to recruit a friend to join in the next 30 days. Thank you.

Dr. Edward Lin
80-20 Initiative (

Equal Opportunity and Justice for ALL Asian Americans

Encourage Inspire Empower

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