Sunday, November 19, 2006

Lt. Ehren Watada - Will JapAmerica Resist this Time?


I agreed to direct a group of WWII camp resisters in reading the government documents that got them arrested in camp and sent to the Federal pen in WWII Japanese America.

Four old men, with memories, all over eighty. The only difficulty would be keeping them awake. Boy, was I wrong. Frank Emi, Yosh Kuromiya, Mits Koshiyama and the one veteran among the resisters, Paul Tsuneishi were all testy, moody bulls. They snorted. They pawed the floors with their feet.

These were the moodiest bulls in Japanese America. They had challenged the camps on the Constitution and won.

What did that mean? I hadn’t clue about a resistance movement in camp till the 1990’s. I’m from New York. What do I know? Redress won in Congress and the checks for $20,000 per internee were in the mail. The papers were weeping camp stories. Some of the stories hinted of resisters. The Japanese Americans found the stories of resisters puzzling. JACL praised their leadership for there being no significant protest or resistance in camp. The theatre my brother ran had never come across any book, or story or a play with anything like a resister in it. Then the theater company turned their back on him and his vision for Asian American theatre in 1980.

The resister’s stories weren’t told by the usual voices of the community and didn’t catch the interest of Asian American arts... dance, music, drama, acting… Isn’t art supposed to show where it is the people hurt?

The Japanese Americans seemed to be a people that didn’t want to know they had their Constitutional rights buffed and polished in their favor by the Presidential Amnesty granted the resisters in 1947.

Then Lt. Enren Watada a Hawaiian Japanese American exercises the rights the resisters defended, and brings the questions the Nisei heard tossed about in the campwar years, back to the present day. Will Japanese Americans react any differently than they did on their 9/11, Dec. 7, 1941?

Hot off the press!

On August 17, U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada succeeded in placing the war on trial during an Article 32 pre-trial hearing in a military courtroom at Fort Lewis, Washington. The investigating officer recommended that Lt. Watada be referred to a general court martial on all charges – including five charges for political speech. On Sept. 15, an additional charge of speech crime was added as the Army moves to escalate it's efforts to silence Lt. Watada.


Frank Emi and Yosh Kuromiya were invited to speak as Resisters in support of Lt. Ehren Watada’s right to test a law against the Constitution, and give words of welcome to Ehren’s parents. Ehren’s distinguished well spoken well dressed father Bob and Rosa, his wife had flown together from Hawaii to L.A. to explain their son to the Japanese community.

Kathy Masaoka spoke first as the NCRR host of Lt. Watada’s parents. She greeted Bob and Rosa by linking her uncle Mike Masaoka’s JACL and his volunteers from camp with their enemies the resisters, who’s business it was to resist the camps the whole idea of camps, and the JACL by name in their bulletins of resistance, freely distributed around camp.

My brother swings his eyes to me and ratchets my face into focus. “You are doing the resisters against the JACL thing?”

“You mean the resisters, Japanese America and the Constitution thing I’m working on…”

“So you are working on it. Be careful.”

“Be careful?”

“The JACL controls all that’s said about Japanese America anywhere by anybody?”

“It does?”

“In the ‘80s the JACL stopped Japanese TV in America from showing a year-long Japanese mini-series of Japanese American life, SANGA MOYU (Mountains and Rivers Aflame) I think it was…The JACL stopped a showing of a year of programming on every channel of Japanese programming in the country. What happened to Japanese American freedom of the press?”

“Japanese Americans have freedom of the press.” I protested. I thought a moment. “Don’t they?”

“That’s why the sales of Japanese American books on the American camps has been greater than sales of the Jewish books on the camps of the holocaust.”

“What do you mean?”

“And Japanese American movies set in the camps are coming out one after another like American movies set in Jewish camps, right?”

“Japanese Americans don’t have a free press?”

“The resisters of the Warsaw Ghetto are heroes to the Jews. If the yellows had a free press you’d think the resisters would be the heroes of camp.”

“But nothing in 60 years.”

“Why do you think that is?” He points a finger at my forehead and rams my forehead with the tip, and says “Think!”

Emi looked a lot younger than his 90 years. He was 28 when he was interned in a Wyoming concentration camp at euphemistically named Heart Mountain Relocation Center. Yosh Kuromiya is 83 now. He was 19 when he first laid eyes on Heart Mountain a piece of mountain-sized rock thrown from the mother rock in Yellowstone Park, 60 miles away to landing here. Right here. What broke Heart Mountain off and tossed it sixty miles? The pillar, the symbol, the mystery of Heart Mountain the concentration camp. He was illegally drafted while imprisoned in camp. Prisoners in custody cannot be drafted. Send him home and he’ll consider the draft notice, but in camp he resists.

When the government instituted the drafting of Nisei from camp, Frank Emi became a leader, the moral center, of Kiyoshi Okamoto’s Fair Play Committee, against the Army, the camp administration, the Japanese American Citizen’s League (JACL), and the camp paper touting the draft as the way for Nisei to be accepted as Americans.

FEBRUARY 24, 1944

"One for all - All for one"

The Fair Play Committee was organized for the purpose of opposing all unfair practices that violates the Constitutional rights of the people as guaranteed and set forth in our United States Constitution regardless if such practices occur within our present concentration camp, the state, territory or Union. It has come strongly in recent weeks in regards to the discriminatory features of the new selective service program as it applies to the Japanese American nationals despite the loud and idealistic claims of nisei editors.

The Committee calls to your attention the Community Council of Topaz and Rowher which is genuinely interested in clarifying the draft issue to its people. WHAT HAS YOUR COMMUNITY COUNCIL DONE?....

...The Fair Play is out to give you that side which the Assistant Project Director and the JACL have not presented.


In welcoming the Watadas, Kathy Masaoka confused the issue by lumping together the anti-JACL draft resistance with those that justified the JACL and the camps by volunteering in 1943 and accepting the draft in 1944 from camp into the army. Tears came to Miss Masaoka’s eyes as she cited both for working against the camps.

Against the camps? Before camp on April 6, 1942, JACL leader Mike Masaoka advised the government warden of the camps for Japanese Americans, Millton Eisenhower, officially Director the just formed War Relocation Authority (WRA), to not call the camps “concentration camps.” This written on JACL letterhead:

No intimation or hint should be given that they are in concentration camps or in protective custody, or that the government does not have full faith and confidence in them as a group and as individuals.

The JACL and the battlefield exploits of 442nd justified the camps. The government knew, if no one else did, that it was illegal to coerce the imprisoned to volunteer. The army had insisted on concentration camps, the army wouldn’t accept the Nisei unless their families were kept hostage in the JACL enforced camps.

“You cannot be drafted from jail!” my brother growls.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Jimmy Cagney, in THE FIGHTING 69TH!” He throws his hand at me turns away and does his signature sneer.

“What are you talking about”

“Before he’s sentenced, the judge gives Cagney a choice. Jail or the Army. Movie. THE FIGHTING 69TH Director William Keighly. 1940.”

My brother was the authority on movies. He been nominated to movie sainthood. But was Jimmy Cagney really given a choice between jail or the army? I clammed. I’d see the movie. Right or wrong, my brother was right about the draft, and I loved him.


Bob Watada spoke about his son. Bob had marched in protest to the Vietnam War but served his country by volunteering for the Peace Corps. But Ehren thought he should offer his life to his country. He applied to West Point. He graduated three years ago, and was commissioned by Congress to the office of 2nd Lieutenant. He is now a 1st Lt and being held in the stockade at Fort Lewis to await his Court Martial for refusing to be deployed to Irag.

Bob felt the war in Iraq was justified. He was confused by his son’s refusal to be deployed.

Ehren and his father began an extraordinary series of conversations between Washington state and Hawaii.

Bob read up on Iraq, and came to agree with his son’s stand.

He recalled Ehren’s story of seeing a soldier on tv, fruitlessly protesting his redeployment to Iraq. “Who stands for him?” Ehren asked.

Bob recalled Ehren answering his own question with, “I guess I will.”


My name is Frank Emi.

I was one of the organizors of the Fair Play Committee in the Concentration camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming were we challenged the Government drafting young men incarcerated in the Camps during WW2.

Mr. Watada, I really congratulate you for your unwavering support of your son, Lt. Ehren Watada, for whom I have the highest admiration and regard for his steadfast commitment to his principles and beliefs about the war in Iraq, which was initiated by Bush and company based on lies and deceit about WMDs.

Lt. Watada, better than anyone else, is keenly aware of the consequences of his action and yet he is undaunted by the prospects of harsh penalties that may include “hard time” in prison.

Talking about “hard time”, I am a veteran of that experience, having served 15 months of a four-year sentence at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary of “conspiracy” charges during our draft resistance movement at Heart Mountain. Fortunately, our convictions were reversed on appeal.

It “ain’t” always easy to fight for principles. Much easier to go with the crowd. It takes guts, integrity and conviction to stand up for your beliefs, and principles, and Lt. Watada has it all!

I’ll conclude my little talk by saying that all these J.A. veterans who are opposing Lt. Watada, saying derogatory things about him, should be standing up congratulating him.

I for one, feel proud that one of our own stood tall to be counted fighting for a righteous cause. Thank you.
Frank Emi and the resisters have been speaking for years, hoping to awaken a younger generation of Asian Americans to voice the truth of their history instead of burying it under layers of sentimentality and patriotic slogans. “We are waiting for the Sansei,” they said when we met. Then they said, “Just wait for the Yonsei, you’ll see.” They got older and they said, “Wait for the Gosei.” Modesty forbids me say how old I am, but it was late, very late that I learned that the Nisei did resist the camps, and met the draft resisters.

“Have you forgotten we produced Momoko Iko’s work?”

“The Gold Watch!”

“Yeah, ‘The Gold Watch.’ She was at Heart Mountain.”

“She was angry at the Nisei for not having the courage of one man—NOT ONE MAN! -- to resist. Her anger at the people generally is justified, but at Heart Mountain, no.”

“There are more things happening in camp than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”


Japanese bombs came down on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, American ships went dump, and Japanese-Americans on the mainland became pariahs on December 7th.

President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 issued on February 19,1941, and the Army’s proclamation of an evacuation of all persons of Japanese ancestry was greeted with resistance to the curfew by Gordon Hirabyashi of Seattle, and Minoru Yasui, a star of the Portland Japanese American Citizen’s League (JACL) on the rise. Yasui, the first Nisei to graduate from the University of Oregon Law School, and an officer in the Army Reserves, fully expected the JACL to back his resistance to the racially selective orders.

The JACL was considered to be the Japanese American version of the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) a civil rights organization. He was wrong, as Joe Kurihara, a San Pedro fisherman from Hawaii learned.

Poor Joe Kurihara

Joe Kurihara was a Hawaiian born Nisei, WWI vet and author of a patriotic newspaper column. He joined the JACL thinking they were formed to fight the Evacuation and Internment, Joe Kurihara discovered he was wrong and wrote:

Truly it was my intention to fight this evacuation. On the night of my return to Los Angeles from San Diego was the second meeting which the Citizens Federation of Southern California (sponsored by JACL) held to discuss evacuation. I attend it with a firm determination to fight to the bitter end. I found the goose was already cooked. The Field Secretary of the JACL [Mike Masaoka] instead of reporting what actually transpired at a meeting they had had with General DeWitt just tried to intimidate the Nisei to comply with the evacuation by stories of threats he claimed to have received from various parts of the state.

Mike Masaoka made it clear that JACL was not a civil rights organization on April 7, 1942:

The national JACL stands unalterably opposed to test cases to determine the constitutionality of the military regulations at this time. We have reached this decision unanimously after examining all the facts in light of our national policy of: "the greatest good for the greatest number."

On June 21,1937 Mike Masaoka threw civil rights out of the JACL charter, an declared their reason for being was:

To promote the welfare of the Americans of Japanese ancestry in a program of education to forward and high purposes of American citizenship and ideals.

“What a great part for a real Japanese American actor!”

“Mike Masaoka greasey blubberlips, the villain of the camp story?”

“A great part! He is Shakespearean. He is the F.D.R. and Winston Churchill of his people. Talk about resisters in Washington D.C., and you’re told ‘This is a JACL town.’ ”


“Even after death, even after you hear nothing of him, for years, Masaoka’s ghost still slouches through halls of Washington. He’s a great character.”

“So, get up and do it!”

“A Japanse American has to write it.”

“Excuses, excuses.”

Before the Congressional Tolan Committee the JACL’s Masaoka came out against Japanese American civil rights, all their civil rights:

“But I do not think that it should be voluntary evacuation for the simple reason that I am afraid of what is happening in Tulare and other counties. If they just go voluntarily out without knowing where they go, they may not only inconvenience the communities to which they go, but they may disrupt those communities."

Masaoka’s Americanism did not allow disobedience of any order for any reason. His motto for the JACL “For Better Americans in a Greater America,” was on the bottom of all JACL letterhead. Bulletin #142 was on JACL letterhead, and concluded with:

"We recognize that self-styled martyrs who are willing to be jailed in order that they might fight for the rights of citizenship, as many of them allege, capture the headlines and the imaginations of many more persons than our seemingly indifferent stand. We realize that many Japanese and others who are interested in our welfare have condemned the JACL for its apparent lacksadaisical attitude on the matter of defending the rights and privileges of American citizens with Japanese features."

If JACL was not a civil rights organization, what institution of government would it influence in Japanese America’s interest?

My brother growls, “You go under the law.”

“What do you mean ‘under the law?’ There is no under the law! Is this more I’m more Jap than thou bullshit?”

“Well, I am more Nihonjin than thou.” He flashes his eyes over me, and turns away, “New York princess….”

“So how do you under the law?”

“You kissup to the cops.”


“You get them to let you do things under the law for them.”

“You mean ‘fink?’”

“American enough for you?”


The “All Camp Meeting,” in Salt Lake City, in November of 1942, was advertised to the government as two delegates from each of the ten camps camp would meet with the War Relocation Authority (WRA) to discuss how to improve conditions in the camps. It was a JACL illusion. The meeting was actually the JACL National Convention.

The “delegates” agreed, the Japanese were happy in camp. All they wanted was to prove their loyalty by staying in camp as hostages, for the boys to be drafted into the army, and fight.

All JACL members returned to their camps boasting of their schmoozing with the government and asking for the draft.

In Manzanar, the US Army veteran from WWI, Joe Kurihara, from Hawaii, gathered audiences of a thousand, or more, speaking against camp and against the JACL.

Manzanar broke into a riot on December 6 and 7, 1942.

Joe Kurihara, was accused the beating up the JACL delegate Fred Tayama. Tayama went to the hospital, and Joe Kuirihara went to Tule Lake, the camp designated for the enemies of the JACL. At Tule Lake, watched by JACL Jr. sociologist-informants and befriended by sociologist Dorothy Hankey Wax, he was accused of leading a pro-Japan leading a resistance movement at Tule Lake and was sent Leupp. He felt betrayed by the country he had fought for, and made pro-Japan statements and was “repatriated” to Japan.

That’s how the JACL treated anyone, even veterans


The JACL was designed by Masaoka and Japanese American sociologists to fool people out of their money to finance their own extinction—institution by institution. The JACL and the Japanese America jr. sociologists had been given a government cop’s license to tell lies, spy, and fink their way to American-ness by the FBI and the WRA sociologists and anthropologists posted in the camps.

“ Jr. G-men! At last! What a story! Why couldn’t I find a writer to write that?”

The FBI case against the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee was originally a WRA Community Analysts report by Asael T. Hansen. He had no experience with the Japanese or Japanese Americans but had his JACL “informants.” There is an intriguing reference to a tall bespectacled man who works at the office of the camp paper described as one his sources. Could the editor of the Sentinel himself be Asael Hansen’s prize blabbermouth?

The FBI replaced the top sheet of Hansen’s report, slapped on a “sedition” charge against the six leaders of the Fair Play Committee of Heart Mountain and the only Nisei journalist in America not under the JACL thumb James Omura. But they had him now.


Why Omura? He had never set foot in a camp, and never met the Fair Play Committee until he was let out of solitary confinement, and sent to Cheyenne to wait for his trial. According to the WRA Analyst’s report turned into the FBI indictment, Omura reported the news of the government’s illegal introduction of the draft in the concentration camps in 1944, and the resistance to the draft. Subscriptions to his paper, the Denver Rocky Shimpo increased by 200 at Heart Mountain in 1944. Actually subscriptions at other camps also increased. But this report was making a case that concerned only Heart Mountain.

The arrest drove James Omura, the publisher of the only magazine of criticism of Japanese American writing, out of Japanese American writing. Control of Japanese American journalism and writing was firmly in the hands of the JACL.

The effect of James Omura’s arrest and silencing had an immediate effect Japanese American writing. The JACL was forbidden territory, going contrary to the JACL story was just forbidden.

Japanese American writers in camp turned their backs on Omura and submitted themselves to white culture for correction. Japanese American writers have obeyed ever since. Gone was Japanese American criticism, culture and history the literary realm of Japanese America. What was left? The White sociology preached by the Junior sociologists.

“What do you mean ‘literary realm?’”

“If the Japanese Americans are a people they have everything a people have. You tried to develop a Japanese American theatre.”

“Asian American.”

“Japanese American. Who said Japanese Americans should write their own story.”

“Yes, but I did works by Caucasians on Nisei subjects.”

“If it was well researched.”


“You were the theatre’s director, Mr. More Nihon than thou.”

“All right.”

“You are part of the realm of Japanese American literature, a category of Asian American literature. In the realm are the writers, the works, the critics, audience, and the discussion between the writer, the critics, and the audience. Out of the mess, the historians and scholarly critics hash out the forms, the conditions, the differences of Japanese American theatre and other genres of Japanese American literature.”

Sociology has dominated and diminished every facet of Japanese American life since the War. Since the war there has been no study of Asian American history, philosophy, literature. No criticism. No discussion. Just dictates from the sociologists for more submission to white supremacy and more extinction of Asian America into white history, white philosophy, white literature.

Sociology is the foundation of every Asian American Studies department in existence. Sociology the JACL AND Asian American studies are not real disciplines based on facts. Sociology is a branch of Christianity founded on rhetoric, meaningless slogans like “For Better Americans and a Greater America.”

“I can’t say that! I’d have an audience of none.”

“Audiences for your theatre, your directing or your acting?”

“Even if I believed it, I couldn’t say that.”

“Because you’re afraid.”


“But that’s the point the resisters had the courage to say and do what we did not. They did it for us and won. And the JACL and sociology refuses to read the law Japanese Americans made.”

“I’m a director and an actor.”

“You’re not an archivist.”

“I’m not a historian. But I’ll take a writer to lunch and talk about a play I want to direct.

“Wouldn’t you like to direct a play about the open sore of camp written with new Japanese American information about Mike Masaoka the JACL and the resistance and Jimmie Omura?”

“Of course! What do you think I was talking about? A play like that. A good play like that. A well written play…”

“By a Japanese American.”

“By a Japanese American.”


Yosh Kuromiya is 83 today. He was 18 when he resisted the draft at Heart Mountain. He has been resisting JACL loyalty and obedience, ever since.

He urges Japanese Americans to be loyal to the principles of the Constitution, rather than be loyal to the word of one man, just as he did 60 years ago in Heart Mountain:

If a soldier voluntarily lays down his arms as a matter of conscience and is willing to suffer the consequences, SO BE IT. Ehren Watada did not wait for a favorable public consensus to determine the dictates of his conscience. If the action of a soldier is dependent on the guarantee of public support then his commitment becomes suspect. And if we encourage our troops to jeopardize their military status to compensate for OUR (citizens of America) FAILURE to hold our government responsible for its ill-conceived misdeeds, it would be tantamount to expecting the victim to pay for his victimization. We, who suffered the indignities imposed by our government in 1942, know that story very well.

If a few Germans had not followed the goose-stepping of a madman, there would not have been a Holocaust. If a few Kamikaze pilots had questioned the manifest destiny of the Rising Sun, we would not have had a Pearl Harbor. If a crewman on the Enola Gay had challenged the necessity of an Atomic blast on civilians, we would not have had a Hiroshima or a Nagasaki. It only takes a FEW good men to determine the course of history. Sadly, there have been TOO FEW in recent history. The goose-stepping continues, even in the editorial pages of our ethnic vernaculars.

So, 1st Lt. Ehren Watada will not win any medals for his extraordinary act of conscience and moral integrity, but sometimes IT TAKES GREATER COURAGE TO LIVE FOR ONES COUNTRY, THAN TO DIE FOR IT.


Can Japanese America finally come out from under the domination the of JACL’s monarchist manifesto? The Japanese came to America to be free of a monarchy. My parents did not flee the militarists of Japan to have me born in New York and live under another monarchy.

Can Japanese America publicly shake hands with a resister?

“Ha! Shake hands with a resister?”

“Shuddup, you!”

“I’m just reacting, not judging.”

Maybe a pump to acknowledge the Constitutional continuity of the camp resistance from Hirabayshi, and another pump of the hand for the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, and another for Lt. Ehren Watada’s effort to clarify his rights as a citizen and a soldier?

The Army will court martial him. The Army isn’t going let a Lt. criticize the President, the Commander-in-Chief! The Court Martial will set the stage for the longer and more difficult, more expensive appearance before the Appeals Court, and possibly the US Supreme Court.

For or against the good Lieutenant, Japanese America should be prepared for renewed challenges to the existence of Japanese America as a people.

--The Peach Girl


THE SUBJECT: The camp resisters vs. the JACL acting as Confidential Informants to the FBI.

PRESENTED BY: The Yashima-Iwamatsu Family- A family of artist activists.

Momo Yashima- an artist activist, and narrator of A COMMUNITY DIVIDED

Frank Emi- a leader of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee.

Yosh Kuromiya- resisted being drafted from Heart Mountain camp.

Paul Tsuneishi- a WWII veteran.

Japanese American National Museum


TIME: 2pm(?)

FEB 21,22,23, 24*)

MARCH 7,8,9

APRIL 19,20


May 30 7p

Monday, October 30, 2006


Ehren Watada, a Japanese Hawaiian son of a Japanese American Hawaiian politician, has publicly refused to "participate in an illegal war". He is the first commissioned officer to issue a statement against the war in Iraq on constitutional grounds.

Lt Watada’s constitutional action against the Army’s orders is in the spirit of the Nikkei free men of Hawaii who answered the call to volunteer for the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The men of Hawaii were not under the compulsion of imprisonment with everyone of their race, like the Japanese Americans of the mainland. They weren’t stained with suspicion. They were free men and as free men took their participation in the military as a measure of personal honor.

Lt. Watada’s stand on his honor splitting the military from the law over Iraq is one man’s considered opinion. Informing his opinion is sixty years of Japanese Hawaii’s history of keeping the Hawaiian integrity of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Hawaiian, (as opposed to the 442nd being a creation of the JACL’s Mike Masaoka and the ten prison camps for mainland Japanese Americans) spits and seethes and flares in Japanese America to this day. The mainland Nisei are known as obedient. They went to camp. No questions asked.

The Japanese Hawaiians are stubbon individualists and hostile to the whiff of groupthink.

Ehren Watada, having achieved the commissioned rank of First Lieutenant (silver bar), knows the consequences of refusing to obey a lawful military order. He’s playing chicken with his life. Death in Iraq or death in a Federal Pen. Agree with him or not, he's a brave man. And a damn brave First Lieutenant ending his career before achieving magic Major before thirty.

The difference between a Japanese from Hawaii and one from the mainland among Japanese Americans is worth a look at, an examination by the mind of Japanese America at work at in the novels of conscience, and being argued in Asian American magazines, by Asian American critics. Whoops! There are no AA critics, and not one AA magazine. There are no AA publishing companies. The writers that exist are known because of white sponsorship. That's the real world where the AA writer shops himself. All the buyers of yellow writers, actors, and yellow work are white. The yellows are the only American people that don’t buy yellow writers, actors, art, politics or work. That means that every other people: Blacks, Whites (of course), and Browns have critics, magazines, and publishing companies. Only the yellows don’t.

Yellow (as used here to mean American-born, English-speaking) newspapers aren’t real newspapers. Why are “Almanac’s” published by newspaper publishers? Every fact of every name, be it a huge nation or a tiny man that appeared in (or should have) in last year’s news is in the Almanac. The people that perform Asian American studies should look over the yellow papers of the last seventy years and record and preserve the degeneration of Asian American newspapers from 1920’s to the desperate cries for help becoming fewer and fewer today.

Kai-yu Hsu’s ASIAN-AMERICAN AUTHORS was the first acknowledgement that American born and raised Chinese, had asserted themselves in writing worth reading in the opinion of Dr. Kai yu Hsu (from China) and a scholar in Comp Lit at San Francisco State. He gave Chinese America it’s first fart of existence in the world beyond ourselves. And the response of the yellows polled by the white press is "Why create a prejudice against the immigrants?" They were the life of the fact that China-born were different from American-born. The facts have grown up. But hark the same yellows as wrote sixty years ago still seem to be writing (with the aid of a western education) the same old Chinese novel for the same old New York publisher. It’s the publisher that buys the novel. And the publisher buys from his almanac.

Is that why American born yellows took off to publishing themselves? When the Aiiieeeee! Boys formed CARP PRESS to publish John Okada’s NO-NO BOY distribute the printing of 2,000 through the mail and ads in the spindly Asian American press. I think we went through two or three printings, before giving it to the UW Press as a gift for the U of Washington hiring Shawn Wong to the English Department faculty. Asian American lit- studies should look at privately funded, or the "vanity press" as a force in AA writing. Ed Miyakawa's (?) novel TULE LAKE, and Milton Murayama’s ALL I ASKING FOR IS MY BODY, and Bill Hohri's book on the resistance and a novel set in camp all being privately or self-published. Are they good books? Do sales and longevity count? Have they influenced specific language, literature, opinion among AA's? If the AA’s had a magazine that was a weekly or a quarterly survey of what’s what among Japanese and Chinese American reader’s..... There is no way of gauging the effect of any book over it’s lifetime in Asian America. Don’t AA’s want to be aware of what they read? All the books are by authors who saw the publication of their work so urgent that they used their own money and self-published.

They’ve bagged Abu Moussad al-Zarqawie, and Ehren Watada is off the news. This happens as Sen. Akaka pleads for the recognition of the Hawaiian culture being separate from loyalty to American laws and legal system derived from the U.S. Constitution. The Bill fails.

If there were an AA magazine the coincidence of Ehren Watada, Japanese America, Hawaii, 442nd history, the war in Iraq and personal integrity and Akaka’s bill granting Hawaiian recognition of their culture as different from U.S. politics would be the subject of an article, an opinion, criticism, a cartoon, a novel, a play. White business took over the Hawaiian gov illegally and the US accepted the gift. The whites have their white racist reasons for subjugating the differently colored.

The interest Asian-Americans have for their own kind should be reflected in their magazines. The absence of magazines and the dismissal of history from Asian American literary history seems to indicate the lack of Asian American interest in the thinking of their own kind. They are the servant people. Pleasing master counts as their reason for being. Have the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the refinement of the rhetoric turned all of Chinese and Japanese America into white man’s servants? The people that can’t sustain a cultural identity strong enough to stimulate a magazine, don’t take themselves seriously. There is no way to measure the effect of art produced by these people on the people. Or there is no effect. If there is no effect, there are no people.

AA art should not be separate from AA activism. They're inseparable among every other culture that claims to be a people. Hemingway is inseparable from the Commie arguments of the Spanish Civil War he parodies in FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS. Those that live in glass houses, should not throw stones. Artists throw stones at themselves. The Gary Cooper like teacher that become a revolutionary explosives expert in Spain in the book, and played by Gary Cooper in the movie with Ingrid Bergman, and Hemingway were friends. Hemingway and Cooper are photographed hunting and shooting and popping by for a visit again and again. The potboiler disguised as a Hemingway novel becomes the Hemingway novel. Art and activism. Da Vinci was a believer. Michaelangelo was a believer. Goya’s belief’s raged directly off his brush and splattered just the way he saw things.

The AA separation of art from activism is a bid for white acceptance through self-disintegration.

Frank Chin

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Interview with Emory Holmes II, Part 3

[cont'd from part 2]

EHII – You’ve been an outspoken champion of Japanese American civil rights, and a fierce critic of the internment camps and your documentary book “Born in America” is a rigorous and very scholarly excavation of the official justifications that lead to the resettlement camps as well as the fights by the No-No Boys and others to stand up for Japanese American dignity, you are also the originator of the idea which is now an annual feature of Japanese American cultural life, “The Day of Remembrance,” yet you are vilified by some critics within the Japanese American community, why is that?

CHIN – [laughing] Well, I’m vilified by the JACL. The JACL is the Japanese American Citizens League, they were given unofficial charge of the Japanese American’s in the camps during the war. And the Japanese American Citizens League was a traitorous organization. They posed as a civil rights organization. And if you went to them and you said, ‘I want to defend my civil rights,’ what the JACL was not telling you was that they were also – an official title – ‘confidential informants’ to the FBI. And so when you went and said, ‘I want to sue the government for my civil rights,’ they’d say, ‘We’ll help you,’ and then they’d go to the FBI and say, ‘So-and-so is a traitor.’ They convinced Japanese America that it was in their best interest to give up their civil rights. A civil rights organization telling you to give up your civil rights. And so they came out in April of ’41, with that statement that they are opposed to all suits against the government, or [all efforts] to determine whether the military orders are constitutional or not. They just waived that. Which was the position they should be taking – they just waived that. And naturally, I found out all this stuff and I talk about it in the book. I published their statement. Their statements don’t need me to improve upon them..

EHII – But the detective work you did to uncover that, it reads like a crime novel. And it really is crime being perpetrated, but it’s so grippingly documented and paced. Did you have a sensibility that you were actually constructing a narrative that served all of the functions of narrative fiction, although it is nonfiction – were you trying to do that?

CHIN – Yes.

EHII – Tell us about that.

CHIN – Well, I modeled the book on the USA Trilogy by John Dos Passos. And in that book he tries to write a novel of modern times and he saw that in his lifetime, the telegraph had come in and it had become the radio, that newspapers proliferated, that communications by wire had proliferated, that transportation by rail and air had happened. Life seemed to be improving, becoming more complicated, becoming louder, becoming more musical. More people, and all of this was centered on the USA. And he tried to develop a prose that reflected that. And I think the USA Trilogy was successful, and in his own way he tried to use all knowledge of the times and all knowledge, period, in that book, in the same way that James Joyce had used all Western knowledge in Ulysses, to focus on a 48 hour period. And I said, Well that is a good model for trying to encapsulate all the knowledge that the Japanese Americans had; and a specific generation of Japanese Americans that were born in America. All their knowledge came to them in America and all their ambitions were American. And there were the people that said the way to do this is to kiss up to the Whites, and there were others who said that the way to do it is to prove to the Whites that we are equal to them and be recognized. And I just went with examples of both. And that was the book.

EHII – Tell me about your use of stereotypes in your literature, not only in your plays but in your essays – and your essays also have the poetics of fiction, you seem to be shooting for a higher mark that is occurring at that particular moment. Much has been said about your use of motifs like the railroads, and Charlie Chan and Gunga Din, but you also use the flamenco guitar, and cowboy motifs and Indian motifs. If we isolate the stereotypes that you use of the railroad, and Charlie Chan and Gunga Din, you seem to be ‘a Chinese American writer,’ but if you look at the whole body of things that you lampoon and have fun with, and the whole sweep of the fun that you are having you can’t be anything other than an American writer -- an all-American writer. How are you using the stereotype; what are the advantages; are there any limitations; are there any dangers?

CHIN – I see the stereotype as an invitation to either prove it or disprove it. And if you study it, I’ve been lucky enough to find that the stereotype is mostly disproved. For instance, we were not slaves building the railroad. There has been a campaign to pity the poor workers on the railroad. The only thing that we should be pitied for was that when we struck we didn’t ask for more pay at that time. But we did go on strike. We did strike for back pay, we did strike for food allowance, we did strike for Chinese foremen. None of that is in the railroad history. We say that we work on the railroad, yet at the Golden Spike ceremony, that famous photograph of the two engines meeting cowcatcher to cowcatcher, and the men leaning across with bottles of champagne toasting each other, there was not one Chinese in that photo. And yet we are mentioned in the caption that Chinese were there, or that we had finished building the railroad just that day, but no Chinese in the photo. And what really pissed me off was, that not one Chinese had noticed.

EHII – Not one Chinese historian or scholar, you are saying?

CHIN – Right. And we don’t write about the railroad. We seem to be ashamed of the railroad. And I was always taught to be proud of the railroad because we built it. That the Irish were always leaving the railroad to get drunk and they refused to work with nitroglycerin, which was just invented. [laughs] And the Chinese said, ‘Oh, any explosive, we’re not afraid of.’ And the Chinese weren’t afraid, and they’d go out and they mastered it. But the Irish? – no. There were accomplishments to be proud of: we won the track-laying contest, et cetera, etc. But no one had really gone and looked. The Chinese seemed just to accept what Whites said about us and not look for themselves. I mean, we were at such a point in ’69-’70 when I was teaching the first Asian American studies class, this head of the program for old folks in Chinatown we went out to lunch and were walking through Chinatown, we went out to lunch and he was complaining about how the Chinese were so passive, and I just laid into him. I said, What do you mean ‘passive’? You’ve been to the opera, and you know that the audiences in the opera never shut up. They are always arguing and always fighting with the opera stars. And he said, ‘Yeah, I wondered about that. Why don’t they quiet down?’ And I said, You can say that and yet you say that the Chinese are passive? What’s wrong with you? And he was confused. [laughs]

EHII – It’s like the character from Iowa in your book “Bulletproof Buddhists” who is confused about a tall Chinese.

CHIN – [laughing] Yes.

EHII – So, why did you move to L.A.?

CHIN – Well, I was thinking that I would work with the East-West Players. I came around 1980-81. Unfortunately at that time the East-West Players was in the process of ousting Mako from the directorship. I had come to work with Mako. And the East-West Players without Mako was not East-West Players anymore, and I was stuck here.

EHII – So have you given up writing plays?

CHIN – Pretty much.

EHII – Why is that?

CHIN – Because there was no real Asian American theater, there was no real Asian American acting. What passes for acting is pretty faces wanting to be on television or the movies. There isn’t the same care for acting that you find in White acting. White actors wanting to do Shakespeare will take courses in how to read verse. Mako has said to me that my language is just too hard. The first speech in the opening to “Chickencoop…” there were very few actors – in fact, none – that could handle all the language in that first speech.

EHII – There are so many textural changes, and changes in the pace and the music of that speech, that the timing alone is probably enough for an actor to settle on, but you are also dealing with shifts race identity, you move from seriousness to comedy, there are so many currents of theatrical authority that come together in that voice – how was that to write that?

CHIN – Fun. I loved that.

EHII – Because you had never seen anything like that on the page, I imagine.

CHIN – No.

EHII – Did you believe it would be fun or difficult to do?

CHIN – At that time, a new production of Charlie Chan was …David W. Tebet, vice president of NBC was advertised in the Honolulu Star Bulletin that he was on a tour looking for a Chinese actor who spoke English well enough to be understood by American audiences. [laughs] And I said, ‘wow.’ So he was going around looking for this actor to play Charlie Chan and that enraged me. And so I said, ‘Well, what about a role that will prove that we can act?’ And anyone that can do Tam Lum’s speech would have to be an actor. And I had visions, well, East-West Players had all these actors and they are just waiting for my play. Well, they weren’t waiting for my play. Mako recognized something in my play. But he also recognized that none of his actors had the talent for the language.

EHII – What did you think about the PBS adaptation of “Chickencoop Chinaman” for the small screen?

CHIN – I have mixed feelings about it. I was glad to see it on TV. George Takei, there are times I see it when I see it and I say, Gee, George is pretty good. Other times I see it and I say, Gee George is terrible. But every time I see it… I was there when George auditioned for the part, and he gave a brilliant audition. But once he had the part, the part began to leave him.

EHII – Why did you turn down Wayne Wang’s offer to re-make the play as a film?

CHIN – Because he wanted to re-write the play.

EHII – He wanted to adapt it – without you?

CHIN – Well, with me. And I felt the play had been written; it had been written about a specific time and a specific place and I saw no reason to re-write it. And what he had done to Eat A Bowl of Tea… I loved that book, Louis Chu’s book. We published it ourselves [in “Aiiieeeee!” --1975] and he just ignored the book. And it was all him and this feminist writer who just missed the point of the book entirely. And he just did another story. And I didn’t want that to happen to me.

EHII – Are there any screenplays in your future?

CHIN – No. There may be one, but that’s just in the back of my mind. The Japanese American resisters. The real stories of Japanese America during World War II have been ignored. And the behavior of the Chinese to the Japanese, I mean, we were neighbors. And so when the Japanese were taken, they were taken out of the house next door, and we remained silent. We knew that the Japanese Americans weren’t Japanese; just as we knew that we Chinese Americans weren’t Chinese. And so it made no sense to take the Japanese away and give us buttons.

EHII – Buttons that said…?

CHIN – 'I am a Loyal Chinese'. Yeah. Now you can tell us apart. We haven’t dealt with that. And the texture of life of the resisters – how you went from being a successful groceryman to being a leader of the resistance. In camp this was a very natural process as I try to show in the book. It was a natural logical process. And yet it was only possible under the artificial terms of camp. And I think there’s a movie there.

EHII – You suffered a debilitating stroke in 1999, do you remember any of the interior journey that you might have taken – people talk about ‘going toward the light in the tunnel and all of that’ – and have you begun to contemplate your legacy?

CHIN – I remember the stroke, or my walking up to it. I was in San Francisco at a friend’s house. I was there with my son. I got up to go to the bathroom and my side wouldn’t work. I was just up to do a little writing and to spend a few days in San Francisco before Christmas. That was a horrible period. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t move my right side. I pissed myself all over. I was embarrassed. I couldn’t express my embarrassment. My friend was still asleep. I got a call, and that’s how I discovered I couldn’t speak. It was [novelist] Russell Leong who called and he told me to stop joking. And I tried to talk to him but just mumbles came out of my mouth. And what I was thinking was not connecting with what I was saying. And luckily Russell had the presence of mind to call back and got Al to come downstairs and find me and Al called the ambulance. And I remember struggling very hard just to get out the words, ‘Somebody take care of [his son] Sam, please.’ And then it was just a fog.

EHII – Since then have you contemplated your legacy or immortality or any of that?

CHIN – No. After my stroke, I decided to get to work on “Born in the USA,” since I had done all of the research and I had gathered all of the materials and I though this would be an easy book for me to write, it’s just a matter for me to edit the transcripts that I’ve done. It’s not a lot of original writing, since I intend to do a lot of [unintelligible] anyway. And so I went though all of the stuff. And I said, Well, since I had planned on modeling it on the “USA Trilogy,” so I planned on three volumes, but when I got through the first volume and was working on the second, I said, ‘Wow, no one will read this. It’s so depressing.’ And it doesn’t begin to get better until the end of the second volume. And I said, ‘Gee, no one will read this. I have to get it down into one volume.’ And then the work became hard. Because there were a lot of other people that I wanted to include. I had to confine it to the Japanese Americans and what they knew.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Interview with Emory Holmes II, Part 2

[cont'd from part 1]

EHII – Were you going to say more about CARP? You formed other institutions didn’t you?

CHIN – Well, the stuff that we did for CARP, and the stuff we learned, we developed that into the two “Aiiieeeee!”s.

EHII – Important anthologies, and the first anthologies of Asian American writing anywhere.

CHIN – Yes, the first histories and anthologies. There were several little anthologies beforehand. The first one was Asian American writers by Kai-yu Hsu.

EHII – Are you in that anthology?

CHIN – I think so. But Kai-yu and I, we talked when he was thinking of giving up the contract because he said, “There is no Asian American writing.” The only Asian American writing that exists are autobiographies. And all the autobiographies are Chrisitan. And the autobiographies, he told me, is not an Asian form. It’s not a Chinese form. And so he just wanted to dump the anthology. And I said, ‘No no no no no. If all we are writing is autobiographies, then that’s our form – unfortunately.’ And we’re Christian, unfortunately. And that stuff should be published and criticized. And he said, ‘The quality of the writing is so bad and it was a shame to want to dignify these past works,’ and so, in talking, I think I convinced him that if Asian American writing is all bad, then it’s all bad. But publish it. And he did. And the all-bad writing unfortunately inspired several people to do more bad writing.

EHII – You are talking about his anthology, you are not talking about “Aiiieeeee!”

CHIN – No, no.

EHII – When did his anthology come out.

CHIN – It came out in ’71, something like that. And it was a textbook for junior high school students. Kai-yu was from China. I learned a lot from him. I’m put down for saying…I mean, people will say, why do I ban the autobiography from Chinese literature? I say, I’m not banning it. I just looked at Chinese literature and I just saw that there are not autobiographies. And so obviously autobiography is not a Chinese form. And they say, ‘You can’t say that.’ And I say, ‘I do say that.’ I mean, in Chinese literature you will not find an autobiography. Not one! And occasionally an autobiography, a first autobiography, they are specialized, they are oddballs. The first autobiography was a book of pornography, by a man who loved fucking his wife. And he wanted to write about it [laughs]. The first official biography published anywhere by a Chinese was ‘My Life in China and America,’ by Yung Wing – a Chinese mission-school boy. The first boy to graduate from Yale. The first Chinese traitor. Of course, he thought he was doing good. And is celebrated, not as a traitor, but as someone who was fooled, or cheated by arms merchants. But he was a traitor. And it’s the Christians that heroize him. And his book was published in 1910. And so, obviously the autobiographical form is not Chinese. And none of the scholars ask – none of them – not from here to Brandies Univ. on the East Coast – none of them ask, ‘How do Chinese write autobiography, then? Is there a form?’ Yes there is a form. If you ask, you shall be told; but if you don’t ask, I’m not gonna tell ya.

EHII – So what is the form?

CHIN – Sun Tzu. You will find, every now and again, a general, a writer, a dictator will have a conversation with Sun Tzu. He will recite Sun Tzu’s verses and then he will free associate with them. So and so comments on Sun Tzu. Or, as with General Tao Hanzhang’s “interpretation” of SUN TSU’S ART OF WAR. (Sterling-N.Y.1987)

EHII – Kind of like you did in your book “Bulletproof Buddhists.”

CHIN – Yes, yes. That was the form that Mao Tse-Tung used in “The Little Red Book,” but he just removed the verses of Sun Tzu. And any Chinese reading that would instantly recognize, ‘Oh, this is kind of like a children’s form. A dialogue with a book.’ But the book has been removed and the conclusions that Mao has have remained. And that’s a literary observation, and it just goes to show you that in 30 or 40 years of study, that Asian American Studies has not been studying Asian America.

EHII – You’ve taught on the university level before; but was this recent effort at UCLA you opening salvo to reverse this trend?

CHIN – Yes, yes it was.

EHII – How do you think you did?

CHIN – Terrible.

EHII – Why was that?

CHIN – Because the teacher I was teaching with was a know-nothing and was a committed feminist. She contradicted everything I said, with no proof. And tried to turn the class into a free discussion. But I said, ‘The students don’t know anything, so what can they discuss?’ This is the beginning, if we are studying Asian American lit, Asian American and every nation’s lit begins with a children’s story. Never. And so you have no basis. Out of the children’s story comes the concept of the individual, comes the concept of the family, comes the concept of the country, comes the concept of the nation, comes the concept of law for that culture – and you have never studied it. And so we are going to study, we’re going to study the beginnings of literature. Asian American studies seems uninterested in the Asian beginnings of Asian American literature.

EHII – Now I sat in on a session in that class, and your exchanges with your colleague, [Prof. King-Kok Cheung] who is a scholar of Asian American literature, and a PhD…

CHIN – Yes…

EHII -- …they were extremely intense and very combative. Now, you have said that life is war, and that all behavior is tactics and strategy. Was the way you conducted the class a demonstration of your life philosophy?

CHIN – Umm.

EHII – It didn’t seem like an amicable situation.

CHIN – No, it wasn’t. My contempt for her grew.

EHII – Do you think that that exchange, that dialectic, had any benefit for the students that were there?

CHIN – I hope so. We were both performing for the students. She was appealing to their baser instincts, I guess. But I was always saying, ‘This is a class. You have to use your head. You have to read. And you have to read the works of the heroic tradition.’ And that ‘life is war; and all behavior is tactics and strategy,’ she contradicted that. And yet, that’s the content of the heroic tradition. Life is war.

EHII – Now I’ve read a statement from Professor Cheung in which she speaks of coming from China and reading Maxine Hong Kingston initially, and dismissing it as begin ‘fake’ basically. But over time, she began to understand, she said, that this was a legitimate approach to literature that, that the main character is a know-nothing, and that in fact, the central form of the novel is an expression of the main character’s inability to understand her own identity as a Chinese American woman. Do you buy any of that?

CHIN – No.

EHII – You are aware of her statement of this?

CHIN – I am aware of King-Kok’s statement of it. But Kingston’s own book and her own response to the criticism belies King-Kok’s conclusions. In the book [The Woman Warrior], nowhere in the book does Kingston, the author of the book confess that Kingston the know-nothing character, knows nothing and reveal the truth of Mulan, or otherwise resolve her falsehoods. No. She opens as a poetic know-nothing, and she closes as a poetic know-nothing.

EHII – Kind of like the people that the Monkey encountered.

CHIN – Yes. And in the subsequent books, she adds to the falsehoods. In “Tripmaster Monkey”…

EHII – Which some people say is about you, do you believe that?

CHIN – Well, I…I… I’m not going to deal with that. It is or it isn’t about me, I don’t care. What people say is their business. But I’m not going to say that character is me and take credit for it.
Her last book, “Fifth Chinese Book of Peace,” in the class I said, you don’t measure a person by their first work. You measure them by the total. All their work. And what they are saying will either become clearer, or not. And with “Fifth Chinese Book of Peace,” Kingston is obviously faking everything. There is no Fifth Chinese Book of Peace. She says, ‘Yes, there has to be; because it was a Chinese tradition for the emperor to burn all the books.’ No, it wasn’t. Only the first emperor of the first empire, Ch’in His Huang tai . He burned the books. But the futility of burning the books is proven by the fact that we know Confucius, we know Mencius, we know Sun Tzu. And these were men who all lived before the first empire, and still their books are known. The Chinese learned very early on that the emperor wanted to control reading. And so individual families wouldn’t let it be known that anybody could read in their family. And they memorized books.that had meaning for them.

EHII – Did you have a concluding remark on that?

CHIN – King-Kok says, categorically, that life is not war. And yet all the books of the heroic tradition are about war, are set in war. They begin in war, they end in war. “The Three Kingdoms” “Water Margin” “Far Mulan” the ballad of Far Mulan itself, the story of Yu Fei, all are about war. All are about tactics and strategy. So what is she saying? What is Asian American studies saying? Not teaching the heroic tradition. Teaching these falsehoods about Chinese literature and teaching a false vision of Chinese culture. I don’t know.

EHII – Early on your work has attracted a small, but very important audience of African American scholars and writers; and you’ve also been criticized by someone who is kind of pretending to be a militant writer in the mold of an African American writer [CHIN LAUGHS]. Why do you think that your work has such resonance with such writers as poet David Henderson, novelist-publisher Ishmael Reed, and Howard Univ. Press, which published “Aiiieeeee!”? What do they see in you?

CHIN – I don’t know. What do I see in them? I mean, we are attracted to each other, definitely, as writers at first. And as we became acquainted with each other, we’re more attracted. Yeah. I don’t think that any of us are… we might be masters of ‘bad-mouth,’ we might be outspoken about what we’re angry at, but we’re not leaders. I mean, you don’t see Ishmael or David Henderson running for office. And neither do I. You don’t see us gathering our followers behind us and going from town to town. We are writers. And writers lead a lonely life, writing and we are satisfied with that. We don’t – well, I don’t – want followers.

EHII – You don’t want followers?

CHIN – I don’t want followers.

EHII – But you’ve got nothing but followers. Your followers are militantly passionate about your work and your influence and your importance to American letters. They refuse to allow anyone – even you – to pigeonhole you into some kind of little niche because you’ve hit them right between the eyes with such liberating moral, and literary and aesthetic authority, that you have nothing but followers. I think that’s only going to grow. I might be wrong, but I can’t see how you cannot, once the dust clears, be recognized as one of the most important language, or any racial or cultural group, as an authentically American-ass-kicking writer.

CHIN – Well thank you.

EHII – Well, what do you think of that? I’m sure you’ve had them come up to you, amid all the people who are trying to go for your throat and have you publicly pilloried and all of that, there is an equally vocal group that wants you canonized.

CHIN – To tell you the truth, I haven’t really seen them, if they’re out there.

EHII – Some of them are featured in Curtis Choy’s remarkable film documentary on you What’s Wrong With Frank Chin? What about those people?

CHIN – Some of those people were former students, and some of them were friends of mine.

EHII – Look, we all have the ability to hate our former teachers, and people that we were once allied with, it’s another thing to, 40 years down the line, to still be preaching, with stars in your eyes, the gospel of the influence of this particular author on your life, which is what they are doing. Are you not distant enough from the material of your own life to observe that?

CHIN – I guess not. Or, I don’t seek it. I don’t see these people every day, or even once a month, or twice a year. I pretty much hole up, and read, and take a walk, and write. I’m not surrounded by people every day or every week or every month. .

EHII – Yet, sometimes when any individual in America sits down and they are trying to apply for a new job and they sit down and they write a resume, their own resume, and of course we all want to make our own resume look wonderful, but when you sit down and re-read your resume you have to go look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Damn, I didn’t know I was that cool.’ Each one of us. Well, you must have the same revelation, when you see a film like Curtis Choy’s film, or even review some of the criticism. I mean, right now you are being debated in some of our finest universities. Frank Chin is a proper subject for critical analysis and study. There is a fine scholarly work on you by Prof. John Goshert, from Purdue Univ., entitled “Frank Chin Is Not a Part of This Class! – Thinking at the Limits of Asian American Literature,” and there are others. I guess it’s a good thing that you don’t seem to understand. I mean, your work is collected and archived at UCSB, you are the first Asian American playwright produced in New York City, you are the founder of the first Asian American theater in the United States…

CHIN – That’s not true. The first Asian American theater, that goes to The East-West Players, of L.A. They were in existence since ’59.

EHII – Well, your [Asian American Theater Workshop] was the second.

CHIN – And me and Mako [former artistic director of the East-West Players], we became close. And I’ve learned a lot from Mako, and I hope he’s learned something from me, over the years.

EHII – Well, let me ask you this: in Jan. 2001, there was a revival of your second play, “Year of the Dragon,” by your friend Mako, yet you didn’t attend. You refused to set foot into the theater. Why was that?

CHIN – Because the theater was named the David Henry Hwang Theater.

EHII – You have a problem with that?

CHIN – Yes. David Henry Hwang, he doesn’t stand for Asian America. He doesn’t stand for Chinese America. He has declared himself against me.

EHII – He’s stated that? I thought he was still one of the writers who admires you, even though he’s aware that you have savaged him. What are the negative things he has said about you?

CHIN – He mis-characterizes me in response to my saying I’m not going into his theater. He says that reminds him of the Christian behavior, and he tries to take credit for being against the Christians. And in his plays, Family Devotions, F.O.B., he’s very clearly a Christian. And very clearly, in F.O.B., his first play, that got the Obie, by the way, he very clearly states that he got Gwan Gung from me, and Fa Mu Lan, from Maxine Hong Kingston, and that he doesn’t care about the real. I mean, what would you say about a writer in America who’s writing about his French background and saying that his Joan of Arc was a tribute to his great teacher Heinrich Himmler and he was getting his understanding of De Gaulle from a German writer he admires. I mean, it doesn’t go to the source. It doesn’t go to the childhood literature that every Chinese child has read. And he dares take this position in public in his introduction to his published plays: that he doesn’t care about the real, Gwan Gung or the real Far Mulan, he meant his use of them as a tribute to these lesser authors. And these lesser authors just happened to be the only authors that are known in America. And so they don’t notice that he has just named the two most popular stories in the Chinese lexicon of stories. And he’s that stupid. And America is that stupid.

[cont'd part 3]

Monday, October 23, 2006

Interview with Emory Holmes II, Part 1

This is an interview conducted by Emory Holmes II, a black free lance writer. I didn't know I still had this file, having lost it while clearing my computer after a not being able to find a script I wanted to work on.

Apologies to Emory.

1- Interview June 8, 2005


CHIN – Yes. Yeah, I’m an American. I was born here. Everything I learned I learned here.


CHIN – I’m afraid that in present day America, I am hyphenated. I consider myself ‘the Universal Man,’ but I am aware that whites, they don’t consider me the Universal Man. The consider their whiteness universal, they consider their Christianity universal, they consider the social contract universal and so we’re different.


CHIN – Yes.


CHIN – [laughing] Well, I’m a Chinaman – I’m not a white man. I’m a pagan – I’m not a Christian. I’m the other good things that you named.


CHIN -- It was Maxine Hong Kingston, she with “The Woman Warrior” became the first Chinese, or Chinese-American writer to name a Chinese heroine or hero, and falsify her life. .

EHII – She was the first?

CHIN – She was the first. Yes. And in all the Asian American studies courses they don’t acknowledge that. They don’t celebrate the fact that Maxine Hong Kingston is the first Chinese-American to associate Mulan with the taattoos off of Ngawk Fei’s or Yue Fei’s in Mandarin, back. In 1975 with her WOMAN WARRIOR, But they will insist that Maxine Hong Kingston was the first writer. They are saying that all Chinese American writing did not exist before. And nothing existed before Maxine Hong Kingston, and the sign that Maxine Hong Kingston was the first writer is that she exposed the reality of Mulan – this heroine from 550 A.D. And in this exposure she falsified all the facts of Mulan. She tattooed her, which was the the ‘mark of a criminal.’ And then later [Maxine Hong Kingston] confessed, after she had collected her four honorary degrees; had collected a medal from President Clinton in humanities. Then she admitted, she announced the victory for ‘feminism’ (why this is a victory I don’t know) but she announced a victory for feminism that she had fooled the American public and convinced them that Mulan was tattooed. But Mulan was not tattooed, she admitted. She had got these tattoos from the back of Yue Fei, a hero about 300 years later.

EHII – A male hero?

CHIN – A male hero – yes. And they were both fighting the same enemy. And so it just makes no sense to the Chinese, but to a know-nothing white, and the know-nothing whites that read Kingston and knew nothing else of China, they were convinced. But then they had been convinced by a century of Christian empire in China that the Chinese were a race of misogynists, and the culture deserved to be ground asunder. And Kingston was just proof of that. That, ‘Yes, here is this poor Chinese woman who just now comes forward to show the reality of this condemnable culture.’ And now she is saying, ‘I fooled you! I fooled you!’ And still, every Asian American studies department in the country, teaches Maxine Hong Kingston and does not teach Far Mulan, the real story, the original ballad from 550 A.D., that is still current, and that ballad is a children’s story. There is not a Chinese American writer, not one, who will defend the Chinese children story. Isn’t that amazing? And yet there are whites that will defend “Jack and the Beanstalk,” there are whites that will defend “The Ugly Duckling,” there are whites that will defend “Cinderella,” there are whites that will defend, even a savage like “Charlemagne.” But not one, how many out of all the plethora of all the Chinese writers, of all the Chinese novels, of all the Chinese history, how many have mentioned the Chinese children’s story? Not one.

EHII – But you have. You have just completed a class at UCLA with the Asian-American scholar King-Kok Cheung on “The Asian Heroic Tradition in China, Japan, Korea and Viet Nam,” in which you introduced these children’s stories. Why do you think these children’s rhymes and fairytales have such resonance, particularly to modern audiences?

CHIN – The children’s stories disprove the stereotypes that the whites have of us. The children’s stories are very individualistic, they are not as conformist as Aesop’s fables…

EHII – Conformist? What do you mean?

CHIN – That they tell the child, ‘You are a subject of society.’ You have no independence. ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ is design to tame the boy’s urge to just express himself and say, ‘Wolf, wolf, wolf.’ And he’s told, ‘If you do that, no one will listen to you after a while because your cries of alarm of ‘wolf’ are false. And in the Chinese children’s stories, a child is born, has a supernatural birth, and he comes to tell the parents if what they are doing is right or wrong. And he forces the parents to accept him as a stranger. And in taking in an orphan, they have to make the ‘orphan’s a promise’: we promise to raise you as our own. In the Chinese story Nah Jah, the parents don’t keep their promise and Nah Jah, when he goes out and solves the problems of the world, he doesn’t go home again. And we find him at [Kwan-yin’s– the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy’s -- left foot. So, once he finishes his mission he goes to Kwan-yin and becomes her guardian.

In the Japenese version, Momotaro (Peach Boy), the parents, they relent and they help Momotaro, and so because they kept their promise, after Momotaro goes off and kills the bad guys he goes home again. It’s very simple. The Chinese stories are part of the heroic tradition. The heroic tradition emphasizes the individual; emphasizes the hero.

EHII – Can you cite the three great masterworks of the heroic tradition in Chinese literature?

CHIN – There is “The Three Kingdoms,” [by Lou Guanzhong] translated by Moss Roberts, that’s the best translation out. And there is “The Water Margin” [by Shi Nai’an and Luo Guanzhong], translated by Sidney Shapiro as “Outlaws of the Marsh” and it is an excellent translation. There is “Journey to the West,” and the translation I use is by [W.J.F.] Jenner.

EHII – You have pointed out that in this heroic tradition, the individual is extolled, and yet the individual seems to be in service of the people, of the community. Is that what is happening, or is that a mis-reading of the tradition?

CHIN – That’s in question. The heroes, it turns out, can serve the people, but as time goes on the question becomes more complex. So if you serve the people ‘of your area’ but you don’t serve the people of the surrounding areas, are you really a hero? This is the argument that develops from “The Three Kingdoms,” it develops in “The Water Margin,” and it reaches its finest point in Yue Fei. This novel, “Yue Fei” was written in Ch’ing dynasty [1644-1911], which follows the Ming [1368-1643]. And so, in the Ming was written “The Three Kingdoms,” “The Water Margin” and in the Ch’ing was written “Yue Fei,” in between there was “Monkey.”
And “Monkey” was a brilliant development, that took the novel into the realm of satire. Monkey isn’t a man; that’s why he’s monkey. And he’s lower than a man. And yet he has all these qualities. Everyone else, all of the men, they all have previous lives. Under Buddhism, they are all reincarnations. Monkey is the only pure life. He came out of a rock. So he came out of an unliving thing. And so he is innocent; he has to learn everything. But he can learn. And he learns everything men know, he learns everything the Taoists know, he learns everything the Buddhists know. And an American, like me, reading it cold, I say, “Well, he learns everything that the Buddha knows, too.” He’s learnt all this stuff. The Buddha tries to control him. But it’s too late, Monkey has learned more than Buddah, and he’s out there just learning away. And that’s an example to men that, if a monkey can learn…[he laughs] Why can’t men learn?

EHII – Why did Mao Tse-Tung, who was so steeped in the traditions and the literature of China, and as I understand was once nominated for a Nobel Prize for his poetry – why did he suppress these great masterworks?

CHIN – He didn’t.

EHII – He didn’t?

CHIN – The woman who wrote “Love is a Many Splendored Thing,” Eurasian woman -- Han Suyin -- she did a couple of books with Mao Tse-Tung, and Mao told her that his favorite books were “Three Kingdoms,” “Water Margin” and “Monkey.”

EHII – I thought I read in one of your essays that he had suppressed those three works.

CHIN – They became suppressed during “The Cultural Revolution.” And he was very old
then; and his [fourth] wife [Jiang Qing], one of the Gang of Four, was called ‘White- Bone Demon.’ And The White-Bone Demon was a character from Monkey. And when the White-Bone Demon reveals herself not to be the tong priest mother, or something, a very close character that lures the tong priest to be captured, and once he is captured she reveals herself. She is not the character that she presented herself as. And she says, “You know, you must learn the difference between the real and the fake.’ And Monkey has been saying this all along to the tong priest. And the tong priest has always been saying is, ‘Well all I can say is, ‘you shouldn’t kill anybody.” And Monkey says, “Those weren’t people. Those were evil spirits.” And the tong priest [says], “Well, even if they were evil spirits, you should have talked them out of it rather than killed them.” And Monkey just throws his hands up in frustration. So the tong priest, he goes through all of the adventures of Monkey, without changing. He is a solid priest, period. Sandy is a strong character; Pigsy is just a glutton. Everybody stays the same. Even the Buddha stays the same. Quan Yen stays the same, but Monkey is the only one that changes. But the hero in “Yu Fei,” I was just reading…I just got a new translation of “Yu Fei” and I’m at a point now, around chapter 30, where they are defining…it’s the first time that a hero, or the representative of the hero debates another hero as to ‘what a hero is.’ And it’s a flawed definition. Yes, unfortunately, the heroes are the subjects of their masters, but at this time, China’s masters are traitors, and the masters that Yu Fei is fighting for, and serving, he doesn’t trust them himself. And so he’s arguing, ‘Yes a hero serves his master, but we have no masters now.” [laughs] “And on my back, my mother has tattooed that I am serving the country, not a master. But he is a good debater and it’s just on form that he manages to convince this outlaw to become a ‘hero’ – unquote:

[Chin reads]
I perceive that you are truly a man. With your ambitions and ability you do not want to be a pillar of the nation but willingly become a robber in the forest. This is disloyalty. You cannot spread your fame and bring glory to your family, instead you sully their innocence. This is un-filial. You bring suffering to all living creatures and now treat good people – this is un-kind. You only know about the heroes in the hills of the [Yung ker Kong –sp?]. Do you not realize that in this world there are others stronger than you? Once you are defeated you will bring infamy and downfall upon yourself. This is un-wise. Your ability is but emptiness. One of the four qualities of loyalty, filial piety, benevolence and wisdom – you do not possess even one. You are but a mediocre character. And you tell me I do not know the Divine Will?

And in that he seems to have put down the outlaw. But he has condemned himself. Because he has tied himself to… He has said he will never accept the…If the people come to him and say, ‘Hey, Yu Fei, become emperor. Declare yourself emperor.’ By being a hero, by declaring himself a Confucian man – a hero – that he does not want power. And so even in the Chi’ing, which was the last dynasty, the Chinese have no way of taking the power among the people.
There was no Magna Carta, there was no legislative process. The emperor is still the law.

EHII – What is the Combined Asian American Resources Project [CARP] and why did you feel the need to form it?

CHIN – The Combined Asian American Resources Project was me, Jeff Chan, Shawn Shawn Wong and Lawson Inada.

EHII – What was the time period?

CHIN – We are talking the end of the 60s, beginning of the 70s; and it lasted until around ’76.

EHII – What was the cultural picture in terms of Asian American literature at that point?

CHIN – We were looking for it. We said ‘Here it is 1969 and we’ve been her for 100 years. Why don’t we know about the Chinese writers previous to us. And we’re not the bravest, nor the brightest, nor necessarily the most ambitious. And there have to have been writers as personally ambitious-out-for-glory like us. And why don’t we know them. And so se went out looking for them.

EHII – This was in the Bay Area?

CHIN – Yes.

EHII – And were you at [Univ. of] Berkley then?

CHIN – Yes. I was living in Berkeley. I was gone from Berkeley the stately University.

EHII – Were they all at Berkeley, or were they scattered around?

CHIN – They were kind of scattered around. Jeff Chan was at San Francisco State, Shawn was a student at Berkeley, and Lawson was teaching at Southern Oregon College. That was also the beginning of our oral history project. Several of us went up to Seattle, which, compared to San Francisco, they had a very small Chinatown. And so we went up there with the intention of interviewing everybody in Seattle’s Chinatown.

EHII – Gee. How did you fund that?

CHIN – We didn’t. We just did it on our own. We couldn’t get any funding. And we didn’t try. We’d get these ideas, and we’d talk to each other and we’d just go do it. So we blitzed Seattle. Jeff, he did the blitz on Marysville. We blitzed Hollywood. We got every Hollywood Asian star that we could find, and we branched out from there looking at the scripts that they were in and finally the writers and directors of the movies. We got several of them.

EHII – Priceless.

CHIN – Yes, and it just branched out from there.

EHII – Is this part of the archive that is now at UCSB?

CHIN – Yes.

EHII – So it is available to scholars now.

CHIN – Yes.

[cont'd part 2]

Friday, July 21, 2006 quotes Frank Chin on Mako's Death

[ link]

Friday July 21, 2006

Mako died today at his home in Somis, in Ventura County. He was known by his first name only, and used his mother's surname Iwamatsu. His sister Momo Yashima was with him when he breathed his last. Neither he nor his wife Susie wants a funeral or a memorial, or any kind service. He was the son of activist anti-militarist painters Taro Yashima and Mitsu Iwamatsu, who fled Japan before WWII. Mako was sickly child and left with his grandparents in Japan. The story of Taro reunitijng with Mako after the war is told in Taro Yashima's "picture book" HORIZON IS CALLING.

Actors who worked with him and those who were trained by him or worked under his direction who feel him in their work may want to get together and get roaring drunk. I don't know. He spoke at Steve McQueen's passing, the star of THE SAND PEBBLES, Mako's first movie that won him an Oscar nomination. I had mixed feelings about THE RISING SUN with Sean Connery, and Wesley Snipes, but saw this as one of Mako's best most textured performances. He wasn't a bad guy or the butt of a joke. He played an executive of a corporation who loved golf. Perhaps because of his love of golf, he was very good.

If anyone out there wants a Mako film fest and drunk, be sure to let me know. Asian-American art and culture has lost an inspiration to writers and actors and art may have lost the only Asian with guts enough to put his talent where his vision is . He was an Asian American who could rough and tumble instead crawl and bat their eyes. This bottle is for you, Mako.

Frank Chin

Monday, May 01, 2006


I wrote a friend:

Beware, the Writer's conference being held at UCLA on the 15th is for the breeding and care of yellow white racists.

Fakework breeds fakework. You can follow the influence of Kingston on yellow writing. through the plays of David Henry Hwang (“F.O.B.”, “DANCE AND THE RAILROAD,” “FAMILY DEVOTIONS”) and the completely faked Chinese culture of Amy Tan's THE JOY LUCK CLUB, and THE KITCHEN GOD'S WIFE. .

The Christian triumvirate have scared Asian Americans away from standing up for the Asian, children’s story.

Why haven’t yellow writers come out with yellow books of children’s stories or their own? For genuine tellings you have to turn to white scholars of Chinese literature like the translator of ROMANCE OF THE THREE KINGDOMS, Moss Roberts or go to Chinatown and buy children’s books.

If it’s as easy as going to Chinatown and buying Chinese children’s books in English to prove Kingston’s Far Mulan, Hwang’s Far Mulan and Kwan Kung, the first page of Amy Tan’s JOY LUCK CLUB and her KITCHEN GOD’S WIFE are white racist frauds why hasn’t anybody done it?

Why are the yellow writers praised for stripping themselves of yellow culture and licking white culture all over? It’s been thirty years since Kingston published the first fake book. The yellows that don’t know anything are the racist yellows taught by whites and their racist newspapers, their racist public schools, their racist universities over the last thirty years.

Kingston, Hwang and Tan alone have faked Far Mulan from THE BALLAD OF MULAN, Kwan Kung from ROMANCE OF THE THREE KINGDOMS, Monkey from JOURNEY TO THE WEST, Kwan yin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, the Kitchen god and his wellborn lucky wife, the habits and foklore of Cantonese opera, and turned their backs on Chinese railroad history.

Phillip Lee, a founder of Lee & Lowe Books, advertised as the only Asian American publishing co, is a publisher of children's stories that “are sociologically accurate” and bear no resemblance or relationship to Asian children's stories that Lee and Lowe pooh pooh as "traditional." Their stories are not infected with anything Asian. Rather they are infected with white sociology. Lee & Lowe are the white racist view of the Asian Americian world. Think of it. What Lee &Lowe promise advocate is an “Asian-American” devoid of Asian knowledge. An AsianAmerican who knows JACK AND THE BEANSTALK but is dumb to NAH JAH and MOMOTARO and all the Asian children’s stories.

Sandy Djkstra is the agent that got Amy Tan the contract for the fake Chinese culture of THE JOY LUCK CLUB-. She's built her stable of racist yellows. Tayrn Fageness will be trolling for yellows who hate yellows and love whites.

I see that Naomi Hirahara is out with a new book..Ah, yes. She used to edit the Rafu Shimpo. A series of articles on old Nisei living in the hotels surrounding J-Town L.A. The resisters were about to give up on the Sansei, and hope the Yonsei would discover them, want to shake their hands and thank them for fighting for our civil rights and winning them. She’s intelligent enough to see the JACL as being the cause of Japanese-America’s descent into irrelevance, but too much of a coward to challenge them in her writing or editing.

Of course she should be free to be a coward, and there should be a Japanese American magazine and a critic in the world to ask why, sixty years after the war, the JACL still exists to terrify Japanese America into silence.

Why have only two Japanese American writers dared to contradict Norman Mineta’s Japanese American Citizen’s League falsification of WWII Japanese American history , in 60 years?

NO-NO BOY, by John Okada came out from Chas.Tuttle Co, in 1957, and DRAWING THE LINE, by Lawson Inada, (Coffeehouse Press) a book of poetry with the title poem dedicated to Yosh Kuromiya, who resisted the draft at Heart Mountain Relocation Center, a concentration camp are the only books by JA’s published since the War. Compare this with the Jews writing about the Holocaust.

The author of a novel about a Japanese American migrant worker family working their way around Arkansas. in one car. Ma had made it with a white man a few years ago. A few years ago t had to be camp time. But the book doesn't have a word of camp. The author reacted against criticism, with, "There is activism, and there is art. I am an artist." I think the author (I forget the name of the book and the author) defines Asian American writing as art different from writing as art and activism. And I think the organizors of the writer's conference separate style from content. They want to get lost in word magic and coded love notes. But it's the content that counts Aristotlle might have said, but the Asian scholars of UCLA King Kok Cheung can be counted to contradict. She has become such a defender of Kingston that she'll lie about Kingston. That’s not scholarship. . When the teacher becomes larger than the subject., well....




CHIN: Kingston brought FAR MULAN into white knowledge fresh since the year 550 around the Fall of the Roman Empire. A children’s story. Kingston gets away with taking the tattoos off Ngawk Fei’s back, right before our eyes and has Mulan’s parents carve revenge on back to keep them off her dead body after being stripped. What kind of savage kill crazy blood slurping enemy goes white at reading “Revenge” off the back of the dead? Is that the children’s story I remember?


CHIN: The first page of THE JOY LUCK CLUB tells another children’s story about a Chinese mother who buys a duck in the market and the duck dreams of being a beautiful goose. And somehow the goose is transformed into the mother who dreams her daughter will be born in America an ocean away, a language away a religion a culture away from where “The worth of a wife is measured by the loudness of her husband’s belch.” Only white racists were taken in by this clumsy portrayal of Chinese culture. Ducks and geese bought in the marketplace symbolize one thing, and one thing only in Chinese culture. FOOD. Christians might have a saying like “The worth of a woman is based on the loudness of her husband’s belch,” but Chinese, no. Amy Tan is Christian white racist.


CHIN: The feminists and Asians who praise Kingston, are white racists. They have ignored Far Mulan in the history of world ideas, and the history of feminism.


CHIN : I won’t answer ad homonym attacks. I admit, I have a rotten personality and am probably a bad man. I am not offering you my personality, or the terrible things I do, not even my writing. What I offer is my knowledge that can be checked against the texts or facts or works I name.


CHIN : Kingston’s title THE WOMAN WARRIOR is reference to Far Mulan. She quotes from the poem to link her book to THE BALLAD OF MULAN.

THE BALLAD OF MULAN was first published in 550 AD. The notion that women were equal to men in battle was revolutionary in a world saw the fall of the Roman Empire and the consideration of rights for man was centuries away, much less rights for women. There was feminist writing before feminism, but the BALLAD was the first poetic statement of male female equality in Chinese poetry and maybe the poetry of the world?


CHIN: “The he rabbit tucks his in his feet to sits. / The she rabbit dims her shiny eyes./Two rabbits hopping side by side./ Who can see which is the he and which the she?” seems pretty poetic to me. No complaints about men, like other writing from other cultures before and after.

The story of the rights of man began with a king admitting he wasn’t divine. The Magna Carta signed by King John in 1281 placed the law above the king, And the law was written by men.

Five hundred years before Thomas Paine’s 1781 publication of THE RIGHTS OF MAN, and years before Mary Wolstonecraft’s 1789 woman’s answer, THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN that is seen as the beginning of feminism.

Kingston has told a fake children’s BALLAD OF MULAN and Amy Tan faked up a children’s story, about a duck and a Chinese saying that never existed. They claim their Chinese children’s stories are real. You can record and translate tellings of children’s stories all around China, or read translations of the mock heroic vernacular novels of the Ming. The last of the Chinese dynasties, between two foreign dynasties from the north. Genghis Khan’s grandson’s Kublai Khan’s Mongol Yuan hundred year dynasty on of the recent past. And the stunningly failed Qing (Ching) Manchu of the ominous future.

The Ming came. The Pilgrims landed religious freedom at Plymouth Rock on the Mayflower a few years later. America didn’t exist when the Ming crashed in 1644. The stories everyone tells comes from the Ming. That’s older than American democracy. .

The stories they tell are either real, or they’re fake. Deal me in. Here’s my hand. The stories I know and my understanding of their machinery. Line for line. My everyday memory of the heroic tradition that was jogged into cranking with the birth of Sam, my son, on Christmas day 1984. Without changing a fact or a hap in any story, I’ll show you what I see is the story. The facts don’t change, but the interpretation has changed.

Begin at the beginning. Take the stories Chinese have told for seven, eight, nine, a long thousand years ago in the Ming dynasty, just born out the fall of the Kublai Khan’s hated hundred year Yuan dynasty. The year when a hundred ran out,. China was Chinese again.


CHIN: China was not always ruled by Chinese. After the first empire of Chien His Huang di, there came the Han, the longest lasting period of Chinese rule. It fell apart and then northern tribes moved in and the Chinese warred among themselves for rule, until the Tang dynasty. The Ming is the third period of Chinese rule of China, following the Mongol Yuan Dynasty of Kublai Khan.

In this dynasty the THREE KINGDOMS, Monkey’s JOURNEY TO THE WEST, and THE WATER MARGIN, were all written to insure that no matter who took over China, the Chinese would remain Chinese. The heroic tradition defined what was Chinese about the Chinese.


CHIN: THE BALLAD was published in 550AD, before the Tang that came into being in 618 and went out in 970. The Mongels took over China in 1271 and were ousted by a popular revolt in 1368. Then the Ming, which lasted till 1644, and the non-Chinese northern tribal people to over again in the Qing (Ching) till the revolution of 1911.

Asian feminists didn’t know the Asian children’s poem and didn’t have time to learn its place in the national myth of China. In fact, they didn’t have time to learn the national myth of China, or the origins of the feminism they claimed. They were classroom teachers, without ever having been students.


CHIN: Newcomers to the United States have to learn the national myth of America in order to become Naturalized citizens. Columbus, the Pilgrims fleeing England in the Mayflower, Declaration of Independence, George Washington “the first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of men,” the first man to turn down the offer of the crown, and the first man to walk away from the Presidency and power after serving two elected terms. Jackson ,the common man, and Manifest Destiny. Lincoln and the saving of the union and freeing the slaves.


CHIN: Every nation that has a legal way for newcomers to become citizen’s of their country.

In China, the national myth consists of a series of novels and chants that tell the history of the people becoming Chinese in spite of the self-indulgence or cowardice of the rulers.

The “Heroic tradition” is not approved by any government of China. Not the Manchu Qing, not the government of the pro-Western, pro-Christian Dr. Sun Yat sen, not the Nationalist government of embattled Chiang Kai Shek, not the Communist’s who are still searching for myths that tell a Communist truth and coming up empty.


CHIN: The Chinese begin their history in mythcal times before they had records around 2100 bc, with the Xia dynasty.


CHIN: A dynasty is family rule. A family can rule a kingdom. An empire is the rule of several kingdoms.


CHIN: The Heroic Tradition is what you have to know to be a Chinese, as to be a Englishman you have to King Arthur.

The first novel of the heroic tradition is not about the first emperor unifying the six kingdoms into the First Empire. The First Emperor Chien Hsi Huang di, is not a “hero” in the “Heroic tradition” but every Chinese knows him for unifying of the written language, the standardizing of weights and measures and coinage, the building of the Great Wall to keep the desert tribal horsemen out of China. These public works were all accomplished with the subjugation of the people.

The national myth of China is the story of the will of the people, against the will of the rulers. I think the heroic tradition, seen all together from 3 Kingdoms to GENERAL YUE FEI tells the story of the family organized against the state, or the country of heroes against the nation. But that’s an idea that has been ignored by everyone. But I’m not surprised. Criticism is a twentieth century development, and the Chinese have been busy with war –the Opium War, the Revolution, the Sino-Japanese War, World War II, the Comnunist Revolution- through the whole 20th Century and the literature, all literature has been in the service of propagandists. The Chinese have yet to discover criticism.


CHIN: Let me take you through the works of the heroic tradition. This is what the Chinese know, but not necessarily what the scholars have written of, okay?


CHIN: Of course.

The first work, and the most famous novel of China, Luo Guanzhong’s THE ROMANCE OF THE THREE KINGDOMS set at the end of second and longest lasting and most loved empire in Chinese history the Han (206BC-220 AD). In the first chapter China is in danger of falling, and the Han calls for troops.

Three men of different races, different colored faces, different walks of life, a white faced pretender to the throne, a red faced long bearded murderer, a blotchy faced buggeyed rich farmer meet at a crossroads. Though of different faces, they recognize something in each other. They resolve to save China, in a celebrated in an oath of brotherhood that’s the core of novel THE ROMANCE OF THE THREE KINGDOMS.

THE BALLAD OF MULAN an anonymously written children’s chant written during a period when China was not an empire but fragmented contending kingdoms, in a period called the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-581). The poem was printed in 550.

JOURNEY TO THE WEST, by Wu Cheng en, is novel of set at the end the Tang (618-907), the second period of Chinese rule of a unfied China, is the story of Monkey, born out of a rock without a previous life and without knowledge, learns all that men know, isn’t satisfied, learns all that the priests know, then the Taoists, then the gods.

The Tang has lost virtue and is on the brink of falling. The Buddhist Goddess of Mercy woos him into guiding a Tang priest and two disciples, an itinerant monk and a pig, to India, to recover Buddhist scripture and restore virtue to the Tang. Monkey keeps learning as he goes to India and back. He learns all that Buddha himself knows, drops the scripture of at the Tang court and moves beyond, the Tang, beyond Buddha stuck in Nirvanah, out of everyone’s reach, and is still learning. The Buddhists balk at thiis interpretation of Monkey, but any reading of the book, including versions abridged for children bears me out.

The Outlaws of Liangsahn Marsh or THE WATER MARGIN, by Shi Nai’an an and Luo Guanzhong, set in Southern Sung dynasty (1127-1279) is the story of a cowardly self-indulgent emperor a corrupt court that outlaws honest and talented men, and takes their property. The outlaws combine in an oath of blood brotherhood to fight the corrupt imperial forces and repel the invaders from the north and protect the people.

The people beg Soong Gong (Song Jiang) the leader of the outlaws to declare himself emperor, but being a good Confucian, he does not covet high office. He wins an amnesty for his outlaws.

The five Ruan (Nguyen) brothers of the outlaws of the Marsh go to Song Jiang. They did not join the outlaws for anything from the emperor, they say, “We joined to fight with you. If you’re fighting for the emperor, we’d like to leave the band and go south.” Soong Gong gives his permission. The Ruan brothers head south and found a country, Siam. One does not need China to be Chinese.

THREE KINGDOMS, JOURNEY TO THE WEST, and THE WATER MARGIN were written in Ming, when Chinese rule of China was restored after the hundred years of the Mongol Yuan. While China was Chinese the Chinese wrote these novels that contained a message: You don’t need China to be Chinese.

GENERAL YUE FEI is a novel of the Southern Sung (Song) 1127-1279, written during the Qing (Ching), by Qian Cai (and translated in Hong Kong by T.L. Yang, in 1995. T.L.Yang is the former Chief Justice of the Hong Kong Supreme Court). Qian Cai wrote YUE FEI after the Manchu’s had taken over China and the British enslaved 27 % of Chinese manhood for 100 years, and won two Opium Wars. The novel was immediately banned by the Qing in the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795) The Jin that the novel cast as the badguys of the book, were the ancestors of the reigning Manchus

The novel about Yue Fei defeating the Jin Dynasty invaders from the north on the water, in the mountains and on the plains before being killed by his own corrupt Prime Minister in the name of the emperorand was an influence in the Taiping Rebellion and the anti-white Boxer Rebellion that resulted in the seven Christian powers were awarded “concessions” including Hong Kong, Macau and parts of Shanghai.

GENERAL YUE FEI takes the alliances of the Three Brothers from THREE KINGDOMS, and the 108 Outlaws from WATER MARGIN and makes clear a division between the people (the 3 brothers, the Outlaws) and the emperor that is irresolvable following Confucian morality. The only possible resolution between the people and the ruler is the rejection of the ruler. The good Confucian YUE FEI was killed by the emperor, like all the good Confucians , the three brothers from THREE KINGDOMS, Soong Gong from THE WATER MARGIN all killed by the emperor or court intrigue, all except those that didn’t need China to stay Chinese, like the Ruan brothers.


CHIN: At last a simple question.

Kingston boasted of fooling her white readers an interview done in 1986 by Kay Bonetti -(page-40) in- CONVERSATIONS WITH MAXINE HONG KINGSTON)

Edited by Paul Skenazy and Tera Martin, U. Press of Mississippi: Jackson (1998)

KINGSTON: "Oh, yes, the myths I change. I change them a lot, and I've been criticized for that by the traditionalists because they don't understand that I have no intention of just recording myths. I mean, I'm not an archivist. I want to give you an example of myths that I've changed. When the woman warrior has the words carved on her back, that's actually a man's story. It's about a man named YĆ¼ch Fei who had a vow carved on his back by his mother. Now, I took that and gave that to a woman. I gave a man's myth to a woman because it's part of the feminist war that's going on in THE WOMAN WARRIOR, to take the men's stories away from them and give the strength of that story to a woman. I see this as an aggressive storytelling act, and its part of my own freedom to play with myth, and I do feel that the myths have to be changed and played with all the time, or they die. The problem with doing all that is that these myths are not known to most of my readers. So I had to figure out a way to inform people at the same time play around with them. I think at that point I just decided not to tell anybody the original stories, and then tell the story, and I just figured, well, let the scholars figure it out later, but they've actually attacked me for not sticking with the story."

Tapes available from:

The American Audio Prose Library

PO Box 842

Columbia, MO 65205


Here is the children’s chant:




Jick jick fook jick jick,

Sniff sniff sigh sniffle sniffle,

Muklan dong woo jick

Muklan sniffles like her loom.

But mun gay chur jing.

Don't ask for the shuttle's shift.

Woay mun nur tahn sick.

Do ask why a girl cries herself sick.

Mun nur haw saw geee.

Ask her does she pine.

Mun nur haw saw yick.

Ask her does she yearn.

Nur yick mo saw seee.

No, this girl does not pine.

Nur yick mo saw yick.

No, this girl does not yearn.

Jawk yeah gin gwun tit.

Last night I saw the battle rolls .

Hahk hawn die bin bing.

For the Khan's great army.

Gwun shur sup yee gurn,

The Roll Book runs twelve rolls.

Gurn gurn yow yeah ming.

Roll after roll there's my father's name.

Ah Yeah mo die yee.

Father has no grown sons.

Muklan mo jerng hing.

Muklan no older brother.

Yurn wooay see ngawn mah.

Leave me buy a saddle and horse,

Choong chee tai yeah jing.

And ride in father's place.

Doong see my joon mah,

East Market: buy a good horse.

Sie seee my ngawn jin.

West Market: buy a saddle and blanket.

Nom see my bay taow.

South Market: buy bridle and reins.

Buck see my cherng biin.

North Market buy a long whip.

Jew tiern yeah lerng her.

Dawn: away from dad and mom.

Mo sook Wong Haw biiin.

Sunset: camp by the Yellow River.

But mun yeah lerng woon nur sing.

Don't ask her to hear her parents call her name.

Don mun Wong Haw lau sur ming tien tien.

Do ask her to listen to the Yellow River gush and gush.

Don chee Wong Haw her.

Dawn: leave the Yellow River.

Mo gee Huk Sahn tau.

Sunset: the peaks of the Black Mountains.

But mun yeah lerng woon nur sing.

Don't ask he to hear her parents calling her name.

Don mun yin sahn woo kay sing chow chow.

Do ask her to hear the Tarter horses on Swallow Mountain whinney and blow chuff chuff.

Mon lay foo yoong gay.

Thousands of miles of war, battles all the way.

Gwan Sahn doe yerk fay.

Across borders and mountains like birds on the fly.

Sawk hay churn gum tawk.

The tight northern air drums the watch.

Hawn gong jew tit yee.

Winter dawn glints off the chain mail.

Jerng Gwun bok gin seee.

My generals of a hundred battles are dead.

Jawng see sup nien gwai.

For my soldiers ten years of war toward home.

Gwai loy gin Tien Ji.

On the road home: an audience with the Emperor.

Tien Ji jaw ming tong.

The Son of Heaven sits in the Hall of Light.

Chok fun sup yee juern..

Your army's valor fills twelve books.

Serng tee bok tien gerng

Prizes amounting to a hundred thousand cash are awarded.

Hahk hawn mun saw yook.

Now what does the girl want?

Muklan but yoong serng shur long.

Muklan has no use for any high position in court.

Yern teee tien lay jook..

"Loan me the famous Thousand Le Camel,

Soong yee won goo herng

To take me home."

Yeah lerng mun ner loy.

Father and Mother hear she's coming.

Chut gawk serng foo jerng.

They meet her outside the gates and walk her onto the estate.

Ah Jiey mun mooey loy..

Big Sister hears she's coming.

Dong wee lay hoong jong

By the door, she rouges her face.

Siew Die mun Jieah loy.

Little Brother hears sister's coming.

Maw doh fawk fawk herng jur yerng.

Grind the knife sharp sharp to go for a pig and sheep.

Hoy ngaw doong gawk moon.

Open my east chamber door.

Jaw ngaw sai gon chong.

Sit on my west chamber bed.

Churt ngaw gin see ho.

Off with the battledress of recent times.

Jerk ngaw gow see serng.

On with the gowns of old times.

Dong chong lay wun bun.

By the window: do the hair in cloudy tresses.

Dur geng tit fah wong.

By the mirror powder myself flowery yellow

Chut moon hawn faw boon.

Out the door see my ally.

Faw boon chee ging wong.

My ally is agog.

Toong hung sup yee nien.

Back to back in twelve years of war.

But ji Muklan see nur long.

He didn't know Muklan was a girl.

Hoong toe gerk hawk sawk..

The he rabbit tucks his in his feet to sits.

Chee toe ngon muhi lay

The she rabbit dims her shiney eyes.

Lerng toe bong day jow.

Two rabbits hopping side by side.

Ngawn lung biin ngaw see hoong chee.

Who can see which is the he and which the she?


CHIN: Whoever said that is stupid. Every so called version Mulan contains quoted lines from the BALLAD, like Kingston’s own “version.” So she definitely means to tie her Mulan to the the Mulan of the BALLAD, the only Mulan.

The feminists claimed the right to ignore the original BALLAD, it’s structure of taking a girl from innocence and the protection of a walled estate, off to war, by her choice, against people come from the desert to take her land. The BALLAD follows her through the choices she makes over twelve years, of one life cycle, from girlhood to womanhood, before returning home and the prospect of marriage.

They disguise their racist method of reading as a feminist but don’t explain how one of the first expressions of male female equality is made more feminist by Kingston’s cruel racist slur, in a period before feminism struck the world?


CHIN: They’re the proof that you don’t have to be white to be a white racist.


CHIN: He doesn’t acknowledge that Kingston’s Mulan is false?


CHIN: Let me read what he says. (after reading) He’s a coward too chicken to say what Kingston herself gleefully admits…that she took the tattoos off Ngawk Fie (Yue Fei’s) back and put them on Mulan. He’s Chinese and knows both Mulan and Ngawk Fei and is silent about the crime to both. Let me say this, I don’t want to be misquoted. With this book Peter Kwong proves himself to be a Chinese white racist.


CHIN: I was wrong.


CHIN: Sure they can. People change. Texts do not. Read the texts and judge for yourself.