In Asian culture, 8 is considered to be a lucky number. So lucky that people often pay through the nose for license plates that have number 8s in them, and even naming their child with a middle name 8. Ironically, the number 8 wasn’t lucky for Pvt. Daniel Chen. Eight soldiers have been charged in his death.
If there is any justice for Pvt. Chen’s death, these soldiers shouldn’t be made an example of, but this issue should be in the minds of military brass. In awareness and preventative measures, they can make sure that this won’t ever happen again. After being teased, harassed, and hazed for being nothing but Asian, he committed suicide.
In not rehashing the story, because every other news outlet and blog has already talked about what happened, I just wanted to express how disappointing that in this day and age, people can still be so cruel. I’m not surprised that the military isn’t immune to racism. I’m more surprised that no brass or authoritative figure knew about it and stopped. Even in an establishment that prides itself in brotherhood and loyalty, these soldiers unified in their harassment of Pvt. Chen.
As an Asian person who grew up with the cliched “ching chong” and “me love you long time” sayings, it still bites when I hear it being said in any instance. As I know it, no Asians have taken this saying back (like the African-Americans have “taken” back the “n-word”) to make it less degrading.
It’s this disgusting behavior starting from childhood that turns these people into lowlives. Children in school who are allowed to tease each other, making fun of a specific group just so they can “assimilate” and blend in with the “cool” kids. Let’s face it, we’ve all done it at one point. I won’t deny it. You learn when you grow out of it, and stop doing it. These SOBs didn’t. And the fact that they are supposed to represent our country gives the U.S. more of a black eye in the International forum. It also dissuades Asians from doing their patriotic duty. Why should one risk their lives for a country that could give less of a damn about their safety (from their own peers no less). There’s no DADT for Asians. While gays can hide their sexual preferences, Asians can’t hide the color of their skin. So what should Asians do to stop this despicable behavior?
To be honest, there really is no clear answer. However, I believe that if we were more assertive and stopped kowtowing whenever we’re confronted it would lessen (maybe stop!). We aren’t milquetoasts, we are human. Just because we have tact, doesn’t give you the right to stomp all over us because you think we are afraid of you. This reminds me of the “Obama effect,” where people say that if President Obama got angry, he may have gotten through to the people in Congress. Same deal applies to Asians. If Asians got angry (and loud enough), people would harass them less.