To the editors:
As I read Michael Miner's sophomoric May 15th item "Buy American, Burn Asian" (p. 4), my surprise at what I thought was a tasteless parody of a politically naive bigot turned to incredulity, and then to anger and sadness. There was also a sense of irony, since an accompanying piece dealt with racism and hate speech. I was reminded that under a patina of progressivism sometimes lies a layer of racism, violence and xenophobia.
Miner's piece replays decades-old stereotypes by using terms such as "wily Oriental" and refers to the Japanese as "sly," "relentless" and "antlike," while at the same time referring to inner city African Americans as "self-pitying wastrels." I am again reminded that ignorance is not to be underestimated. I would also like to add that the "Oriental" has gone the way of the "Negro." Perhaps Mr. Miner can add "yellow peril" to his thesaurus.
Miner's article encourages racial violence by stating that, while Koreans should not be bashed, it is alright to do so to the Japanese. In the context of the LA unrest, this bashing is not rhetorical, but physical. How would your Senior Editor have responded to the baseball bat slaying of Vincent Chin in Detroit, who was mistakenly taken to be Japanese? I can only suggest, as Miner's writing implies, that it would have been alright, had Chin actually been a member of the offending race.
The article confuses the "Japanese" with "Japanese-Americans" (and with "wily Orientals," etc). Japanese-Americans need not be reminded of another such instance, when American soldiers fought fascists in Europe, while their Japanese compatriots were interned in the Western U.S.