Not a Chinaman's Chance

Advocates Doubt Wen Ho Lee Release Will Change Anti-Asian Politics

Tang of CAAAV goes beyond complaining that the Lee case will not yield reforms. He argues that, as in the aftermath of the 1970s COINTELPRO scandal, when Congress publicly reprimanded the FBI for engaging in unconstitutional practices to monitor and squelch political activists, the embarrassment from the Lee case may only encourage counterintelligence operations to become more insidious and efficient in targeting suspects outside the public's view.

Asian American advocates take small comfort in the one benefit they say has emerged from the Lee case: greater political awareness within their communities. Biochemistry professor Wang describes himself as having been entirely apolitical before the case began, saying, "This was a wake-up call to me in realizing how deeply rooted the stereotypes against Asian Americans have been, and how easily the government can exploit them."

Chin says the Lee case and its political context are reminders to Asian Americans of attitudes stretching as far back as 1877, when a congressional committee to investigate Chinese immigrants concluded that they "can never assimilate with us; that they are a perpetual, unchanging, and unchangeable alien element. . . . [The group] is an element both demoralizing and dangerous to the community within which it exists."

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