Friday, May 03, 2002

Selling Us Out- For the past three years, I've been receiving messages from an Asian-American group called the "80-20 Initiative" asking for donations to their Political Action Committee. The organization's stated goal is to enhance Asian-American political influence through bloc voting, much like Black and Jewish voters who typically vote for Democrats in large majorities.

Claiming to be non-partisan, 80-20 endorsed Al Gore for the 2000 Presidential election, asserting that Gore and the Democrats "better represented the interests of all Asian/Pacific Island-Americans (APAs)". This fraudulent endorsement effectively ended any chance of my involvement with 80-20. The premise that a Clintonized Democratic Party was concerned with the well-being of Asian-Americans was ridiculous.

In my view, the Clinton-Gore years were a disaster for Asian-Americans, and for Chinese-Americans in particular. On the positive side, Asian-Americans received a record 2% of all political appointments made by the Clinton administration, greatly exceeding the previous record set by the outgoing Bush administration. But what price did Asian-Americans pay for these apparent political "successes"? Did potential gains in political influence justify becoming involved with a President embroiled in scandal, moral decay and deceit?

My political awakening began in 1993 with the ordeal of a group of Chinese refugees on a ship called the Golden Venture. Seven years before Elian Gonzales became a household name, Bill Clinton's Democrats foreshadowed their contempt for liberty by imprisoning and then deporting nearly an entire boatload of political refugees. That the Golden Venture had run aground within the shadow of the Statue of Liberty didn't seem to impress Bill Clinton, who had recently rescinded a Bush Administration executive order granting asylum for persons escaping China's forced abortion and sterilization policy. For reasons that only became clear later in his term, Clinton seemed more interested in cultivating ties with China's communist leadership, and the tragic fate of the Golden Venture was sealed.

As Bill Clinton and Al Gore shook down Chinese and Chinese-American donors for millions in illegal campaign and Clinton Defense Fund contributions, they approved transfers of sensitive satellite and computer technology to companies controlled by the Chinese military, and ultimately rewarded China with Most Favored Nation status and membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO). When news of the Chinese Campaign Finance Scandal broke after Clinton's 1996 re-election, the Clinton Justice Department ignored the transgressions of its White House masters and instead pointed the finger at donors and their Chinese-American agents such as John Huang (Deputy Assistant Commerce Secretary under Clinton and Democratic National Committee member), Maria Hsia, Johnny Chung and Charlie Trie.

The illegal Chinese contributions were merely the tip of the iceberg as the so-called "Chinagate" scandal burst onto the national scene in March 1999 with front-page stories--by Jeff Gerth and James Risen of The New York Times--about possible Chinese espionage at the Los Alamos nuclear labs. With the tacit approval of Vice-President Gore and President Clinton, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and Attorney General Janet Reno scurried to find a sacrificial lamb or scapegoat of Chinese origin who turned out to be Los Alamos nuclear scientist Dr. Wen Ho Lee. The politically-motivated persecution of Dr. Lee served only to feed a growing stereotype of the Clinton years: that Asian-Americans weren't loyal to the United States and they didn't obey the law.

With Mr. Clinton at the helm, Asian-Americans were dragged through the mud by the Clinton scandal machine and then tossed aside once they had outlived their usefulness. The payoff for their blind loyalty and campaign dollars never materialized during the Clinton years, unless you consider the last minute appointment in July 2000 of Norm Mineta as Secretary of Transportation to be payback. Still, Asian-Americans seem to have forgotten their betrayal at the hands of the Clinton administration, and today continue to be seduced by Democratic siren calls for a place at the political table. By aligning themselves with Bill Clinton's Democrats, Asian-Americans have paid a huge political and ethical price--the equivalent of a pact with the devil. How could Asian-Americans and groups like 80-20 have been fooled so badly?


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